SportsRedblacks Look to Bounce Back Against Alouettes in East Division Matchup

Redblacks Look to Bounce Back Against Alouettes in East Division Matchup

Redblacks Look to Bounce Back Against Alouettes in East Division Matchup

Photo credit: Paul Chiasson, The Canadian Press

Following a lackluster performance against the Stampeders in Calgary last Thursday night, the 1-1 Redblacks travel to Montreal looking to get back on track. The 1-2 Alouettes meanwhile are looking to build on their first real success of the 2018 season. Friday night will mark the first East Division matchup of the year, pitting the second (Ottawa) and third (Montreal) ranked teams against one another.

The Alouettes defense has had a tough time for the most part in 2018 but came through with an impressive performance against the Roughriders quarterbacks in week three, including forcing an astonishing four interceptions. Trevor Harris will need to perform better this week than he did against the Stampeders if the Redblacks are to have any luck in getting into a rhythm offensively.

Harris threw for only 135 yards and an interception last week, while running back William Powell delivered a strong 123 rushing yards. Powell leads the CFL in rushing yards per game, but will likely need an improved Ottawa passing game to get the same open lanes from the opposing defense. Powell could have his hands full trying to elude Montreal standouts Chris Ackie and Henoc Muamba.

Comparatively, Montreal has struggled to get anything going on the ground through the first three weeks, averaging a league-worst 58.7 rush yards per game. Feature back Tyrell Sutton has received only 15 carries in the last two weeks and must now go up against the third best defense by yards allowed per game.

The Redblacks defensive unit is also allowing the second least points per game (20.5), but will be without one of their leaders tonight. The CFL handed linebacker Kyries Hebert a one-game suspension for his high hit on Stampeders wide receiver DaVaris Daniels in last week’s game. Hebert is second on the Redblacks in tackles and an integral part of the team’s run defense.

In terms of defending the passing game, the Redblacks have been stellar as well. The Ottawa secondary has made life difficult for Zach Collaros and Bo Levi Mitchell thus far, forcing four interceptions with their tight coverage. New addition Rico Murray holds the league-lead with two interceptions himself. Next up on the list of opposing quarterbacks to shutdown is Jeff Matthews in his first career start.

Matthews, the Alouettes’ backup signal-caller to Drew Willy,has seen relief time under centre in two consecutive games for Montreal but will now have to start in place of the injured Willy. Matthews may be inexperienced but he possesses an explosive deep-threat in wide receiver and former Redblack Chris Williams. The lightning-fast Williams caught only three balls last week but amassed 130 yards and a 79-yard touchdown. He can blow a game wide open at any moment, the Alouettes just need to find a way to get the ball in his hands.

After an 0-2 start to the season, Montreal seemed to catch the Roughriders off guard in their win last week. The Alouettes had been the butt of many jokes around the CFL heading into that game, but Redblacks head coach Rick Campbell says they are not overlooking them.

“They just beat Saskatchewan on the road,” said Campbell at practice on Tuesday, citing the difficulty of beating the Roughriders in Regina. “It’s an eastern division opponent on the road. Huge game and we know we will have to be at our best to win.”

Last year, it took Ottawa until August 18th to tally their second victory of the season. A win against the Alouettes Friday night could go a long way in establishing the Redblacks early on in playoff position in the East.

Tonight’s game between Ottawa and Montreal will get underway at 7:30.

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