Fogg prom­ises some­thing spe­cial for semi­fi­nal

Winnipeg Free Press - - SPORTS / BLUE BOMBERS - MIKE SAWATZKY mike.sawatzky@freep­ress.mb.ca Twit­ter: @sawa14

AF­TER an in­jury-plagued 2017, Win­nipeg’s Kevin Fogg had a re­turn to form at cor­ner­back with a ca­reer-high four in­ter­cep­tions and three forced fum­bles in 2018.

His other role as a punt re­turner has not been as fruit­ful; he av­er­aged

9.1 yards per re­turn, tied for ninth in the CFL. More­over, the Blue Bombers’ team av­er­age of 8.7 yards per punt re­turn was eighth in the nine-team league. Fogg did not re­turn a punt for a touch­down, but did re­turn a missed field goal 110 yards for a ma­jor.

The 28-year-old from Raleigh, N.C., promised some­thing spe­cial for Sun­day’s West Di­vi­sion semi­fi­nal in Regina.

“Kevin Fogg will have a touch­down on punt re­turn,” Fogg said with a grin fol­low­ing Fri­day’s fi­nal prac­tice prior to the club’s de­par­ture for Saskatchewan.

“It has been a long while — 2017 in Oc­to­ber. Per­fect time to do it against Sask. First play­off game and in their ter­ri­tory.”

Fogg ex­pects spe­cial teams to be cru­cial to the out­come of Sun­day’s game, the fourth meet­ing of the sea­son be­tween the Roughrid­ers and Blue Bombers.

“We’re go­ing to be great,” Fogg said. “We know that spe­cial teams is the chang­ing fac­tor in this game. Both good de­fences, so now we just have to make sure that, on the spe­cial teams side, that we get good (field) po­si­tion for our of­fence.”

THE GROUND GAME

Blue Bombers cen­tre Matthias Goossen, a first-time West Di­vi­sion all-star, would like noth­ing bet­ter than to see run­ning back An­drew Har­ris blast through some gap­ing holes Sun­day.

“Ob­vi­ously, we take a lot of pride in run­ning the ball, but when it comes down to it, what­ever’s called — if it’s a run play, great, if it’s a pass play, great — and we run that. What­ever (of­fen­sive co-or­di­na­tor Paul LaPo­lice) wants to call that day, we’re go­ing to run those plays. Ob­vi­ously, any O-line­man in the his­tory of foot­ball would say he loves run­ning the ball in­stead of drop­ping back and pass­ing.”

The frosty con­di­tions at Mo­saic Sta­dium should be a good fit Goossen’s pre­ferred ap­proach.

“Any time you have a game that’s -10 C, -20 C, and a chance for snow, it’s not ideal for pass­ing, right?” Goossen said.

“So when you have a good run­ning game, it’s that much more im­por­tant.”

STAY­ING WARM

Fogg is fine with cold weather, but only to a point. How will he stay warm Sun­day?

“By the heater,” Fogg said. “The heater will be my best friend. But we’ll do well. It won’t be as cold as Cal­gary last year. That in it­self was a task to deal with. It’s good to play in games like that be­cause then you know what you can and can’t do.”

Wide re­ceiver Drew Woli­tarsky, who was raised in Cal­i­for­nia but played his col­lege foot­ball at Min­nesota, is an old hand at this.

“The worst game I played in was

-5 F, which would be -20 C or some­thing like that, against Wis­con­sin (in 2013),” Woli­tarsky said.

“The ground was like ce­ment... you kinda get used to, ‘OK, I’m cold, I’ve just gotta ac­cept that. It’s cold out here, big deal.’ Now you can fo­cus on catch­ing the ball, do­ing your job. If you’re al­ways like, ‘I’m so cold, so cold, so cold,’ you’re not go­ing to be able to fo­cus on any­thing else.”

FILL­ING THE VOID

Vet­eran linebacker Ian Wild, a likely re­place­ment if Jo­van San­tos-Knox (lower body) is un­able to play Sun­day, said it helped to get some reg­u­lar snaps on de­fence in the reg­u­lar-sea­son fi­nale against the Ed­mon­ton Eski­mos af­ter serv­ing as a des­ig­nated in­ter­na­tional for most of the sea­son.

“I def­i­nitely think it helps,” Wild said. “Just to play with the guys around me, es­pe­cially since I haven’t had much time out there this year. It def­i­nitely helps to knock off some of the rust and clear up any com­mu­ni­ca­tion with the guys around me.”

JOHN WOODS / THE CANA­DIAN PRESS FILES

Win­nipeg Blue Bombers re­turn man Kevin Fogg (left) says he in­tends to score on Sun­day.

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