Alouettes need a jolt, Redblacks ride with Tate
MONTREAL — The Montreal Alouettes hope a mid-season coaching change will give them the jolt they need to get back in the CFL East Division playoff race.
General manager Kavis Reed will be running the show from the sidelines when the Alouettes play host to the Ottawa Redblacks on Sunday afternoon. Reed took over as coach after firing Jacques Chapdelaine and defensive co-ordinator Noel Thorpe this week.
“I hope it’s something in which we can find a way to build some strength and unity because we’re all we’ve got right now — we have to lean on each other,” Alouettes linebacker Kyries Hebert said. “We’re going to have to play hard, fast and physical.
“It can’t be based on Xs and Os because we won’t be able to put in an entire defence or any complicated things within a matter of days. But we’re going to show up and be ready to go.”
A mid-season change worked for Hamilton, who were 0-8 when Kent Austin stepped aside and named June Jones as coach. Since then, the Tiger-Cats have won two in a row, including a 26-22 win in Ottawa last week.
The results tightened the weak East standings such that Ottawa leads with only nine points, one more than Toronto, three more than Montreal and five more than Hamilton. Only the top two are sure to make the playoffs, but the division remains wide open.
The loss to Hamilton not only ended the Redblacks’ three-game winning run, but also cost them starting quarterback Trevor Harris, who left in the third quarter with a separated shoulder in his (right) throwing arm.
But Ottawa has a quality backup in 11-year veteran Drew Tate, who completed eight passes for 114 yards and a touchdown as the Redblacks mounted a second-half comeback attempt.
Montreal was in disarray when the coaching change was made. They have lost four games in a row — three of them blowouts including a 32-4 loss to Ottawa two weeks ago and a 41-18 drubbing in B.C. last week.
Quarterbacks coach Anthony Calvillo was handed playcalling duties on offence while defensive line coach Greg Quick will do the same with the defence. They had only three practices to start implementing changes.
“It’s out of our hands,” quarterback Darian Durant said of the moves. “We have to make do with what we’re given.
“We have to do the best we can for AC and hope that we can get this thing turned around. First of all we have to clean up the little things. It starts with penalties, with not missing assignments. We have to be a smarter team.”
Firing Thorpe was a surprise because defence has been the team’s only strong area in recent years. But Reed said they had been only “just OK” this season.
The Alouettes have already lost twice to Ottawa.