48-Hour Primer | TOR vs WPG
There might be a temptation for Mike O’Shea to channel his inner Tony D’Amato – you know, the fictional head coach of the Miami Sharks played by Al Pacino in ‘Any Given Sunday’ – and dust off the best of his motivational speeches this week.
After all, the unbeaten Winnipeg Blue Bombers are meeting the winless Toronto Argonauts Friday night at IG Field in what looks to be the most lopsided matchup on the Canadian Football League’s Week 5 schedule.
And the danger here, of course, is these are also exactly the kind of ‘trap’ games in which teams have been caught backing off before, only to get slapped upside the head.
A quick tour through the Bombers locker room after practice Wednesday had the troops saying all the right things about trusting the process and respecting the game and the opponent. And the man who knows this team better than anyone trusts there will be no complacency from his troops when they run out of the tunnel Friday night.
“It’s the type of guys we have and the amount of work we put in every week,” said O’Shea. “They come in early, they stay late, they’re staying out after practice and doing a bunch of stuff. They seem to know what it takes.”
The Bombers 3-0 start has featured a dominant run by the defence that has seen them not give up an offensive touchdown in 34 consecutive possessions – and counting – while a balanced attack has even more weapons in its arsenal than a year ago when it led the league in scoring.
The Argos, meanwhile, are coming off a crushing 18-17 loss to the B.C. Lions last week, are winless in their last 10 road games, and are 1-12 in their last 13 games.
“We’re not worried about anybody’s record. Not their record, not our record – we’re worried about winning this week,” said receiver Darvin Adams.
“It’s just like when you get into a fight… if you’re so worried about what the other person is going to do you’ve already lost. We’re just trying to focus on the punches we can control.”
The Argos do have a ton of talent on paper, but have been out-scored 114-38 in their three losses and – while this is hardly telling this early in the regular season – currently rank last in 22 of the 79 offensive, defensive and special teams statistical categories the CFL charts, and second last in 25 others.
“They’re a professional football team. They have a lot of good players, a lot of guys that have Grey Cup rings as of a few years ago,” said safety Jeff Hecht. “So, they know how to win, there are guys in their locker room who know how to win. Maybe they haven’t found their formula for this season quite yet, but they’re still professionals. They’re still playing at a high level, that’s why they’re in the league.”
“You put yourself at a disadvantage if you just think anything is just going to happen on its own,” added cornerback Chandler Fenner. “You can’t take anything for granted in this game.
“They put their pads on the same way we do and if we don’t give our best effort, we’re putting ourselves at a disadvantage. You don’t want to give anybody an opportunity to have an edge on you, especially psychologically or mental because emotionally you aren’t as invested as you may have been in another week. That’s a rookie mistake, and we won’t do that.”
The Bombers finished their final full practice in advance of Friday’s game with the Argos behind closed doors on Wednesday. Here are some notes and quotes from today’s media availability in our 48-HOUR PRIMER…
HIT TO THE PAYCHEQUE:
The CFL announced Wednesday that four players had been fined for transgressions last week, including Bombers right tackle Jermarcus Hardrick who was nailed for ‘using his hands to deliver a blow to the head of Ottawa REDBLACKS defensive lineman J.R. Tavai.’
Also fined with Hamilton OL David Dean for a high hit on Montreal QB Vernon Adams Jr., while B.C receiver Duron Carter and Stefan Logan of the Als were both fined for violating the league’s social media policy.
As per league policy, the amount of the fines were not disclosed.
UPDATE FROM SICK-BAY:
Bombers head coach Mike O’Shea said LB Adam Bighill did not practise on Wednesday.
“We’ll see,” he said of Bighill’s status. “I think it could come right down to the game. Once again, I don’t think he needs to practice to play.”