WINNIPEG - One of the toughest assignments Paul LaPolice had in reviewing Thursday’s game was trying to decide what grade to hand out for his special-teams units.
In the 32-25 victory over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, LaPolice saw a mixed bag of results, touching both end of the extremes.
The ups-and-downs saw the Blue Bombers punt team surrender a 72-yard touchdown return to Chris Williams but later force Williams to fumble when he was stripped by Henoc Muamba, leading to the go-ahead touchdown from Chris Matthews.
“We have to fix that, we’ll clean up our punt team (coverage) and get that straightened out,” said LaPolice, noting a couple of players were out of their lanes on the Williams score. “But we did some good things on special teams too.”
Because of the season-ending injury to special-teams captain Brady Browne, the punt team featured two new players, James Green (playing his first game of the season) and receiver Cory Watson.
Punter Mike Renaud had a strong day overall, hitting nine punts in the contest — including a 66-yarder that left him with a 40.2 yard average in the game. He also had a fumble recovery.
The only blemish was the Williams return, but that wasn’t his fault as Williams picked the ball up on a bounce and found a seam to turn a short gain into a major.
LaPolice also chose to have Renaud punt from his own end zone when the Blue Bombers had the wind at their back when some thought he might concede a safety.
Not only did Renaud boom the punt, the Ticats took a penalty on the play to back them up even further.
“I didn’t just want to give them two points,” said LaPolice.
Even kicker Justin Palardy battled some adversity, missing a 48-yard attempt before coming back to hit his final three of the contest before adding an 82-yard single that put the Blue Bombers up by eight points.
Palardy has missed only two of his 18 attempts this season (the other came in Week 3 against the Edmonton Eskimos), leaving him with a strong 88.9%, while adding 12 converts and two singles for 62 points.
It was a relatively quiet day for the Blue Bombers return game as Demond Washington had five punt returns for 35 yards and four kickoff returns for 78 yards, 31 of which came on his first touch of the contest after the Ticats scored on their opening possession