Als hope to jump-start of­fence against Roughrid­ers

The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTS - KELSEY PAT­TER­SON

MONTREAL — On a night where Montreal will re­tire Ben Ca­hoon’s No. 86, the Alou­ettes will try to chan­nel the for­mer re­ceiver’s of­fen­sive prow­ess and climb out of the Cana­dian Foot­ball League’s base­ment.

Montreal and its league-worst of­fence play host to the Saskatchewan Roughrid­ers on Fri­day night at Per­ci­val Mol­son Sta­dium, where for­mer star slot­back Ca­hoon will be hon­oured dur­ing a half­time cer­e­mony.

Per­haps Ca­hoon’s pres­ence will be enough to spark the last-place Als (1-3), who are win­less since their sea­son opener more than a month ago.

Four games into their sea­son, the Alou­ettes are dead last in five of­fen­sive cat­e­gories: points, pass­ing yards, touch­downs, turnovers and time of pos­ses­sion.

“You have to give other teams credit, they’re do­ing things,” said gen­eral man­ager and head coach Jim Popp, who is un­der in­tense scru­tiny as the club con­tin­ues to floun­der. “I think we have the same strug­gles that a lot of teams have. I don’t think it’s any dif­fer­ent. Ev­ery team’s got their strug­gles.”

Montreal has been outscored 8937 on its cur­rent three-game los­ing skid. The team is av­er­ag­ing less than 15 points per game this sea­son.

“It’s not that we’re throw­ing two deep balls in a row,” added Popp, de­fend­ing the team’s of­fen­sive strat­egy. “We’re try­ing to get five, six, seven yards on first down. And if we don’t suc­ceed, we’re still try­ing to get five, six, seven yards on sec­ond down. It’s just that right now we haven’t cap­i­tal­ized.”

De­spite Montreal’s record and medi­ocre of­fen­sive pro­duc­tion, Rid­ers head coach Chris Jones re­fuses to take the Alou­ettes lightly.

“They chal­lenge you,” Jones told the team’s web­site. “And they’re very phys­i­cal. I think we’re the faster team but they def­i­nitely bring a lot of phys­i­cal­ity. They have a lot of veter­ans, they have a lot of pride there. They dropped some very close foot­ball games. They’re go­ing to be ready to play.”

Jones’s Roughrid­ers (1-3) are not with­out ad­ver­sity of their own. The Rid­ers’ only win this year came last week against the Ot­tawa Red­blacks on a last-minute field goal. That gave rookie QB Mitchell Gale a win in his very first CFL start.

With start­ing quar­ter­back Dar­ian Du­rant out with an an­kle in­jury, the 26-year-old Gale will be back com­mand­ing Saskatchewan’s of­fence for a sec­ond straight game on Fri­day.

“Mitchell has been around foot­ball for a long time,” said Jones. “He threw for 12,000 yards and 97 touch­downs in col­lege. He’s a guy who’s been around pass­ing of­fences for quite some time.

“All I want him to do is be Mitchell. Don’t try to do more than that.”

The young­ster will look to take ad­van­tage of a Montreal team play­ing on short rest. The Alou­ettes are com­ing off a 30-17 loss against the Toronto Arg­onauts on Mon­day.

“I don’t un­der­stand how a game could be sched­uled this close to­gether,” said Als quar­ter­back Kevin Glenn.

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