MONTREAL –The Montreal Alouettes will play their first home game of the 2022 season as they’re set host the Saskatchewan Roughriders on Thursday night.
It will also be the third consecutive Thursday night game for Montreal to start the year.
Despite their 0-2 record, the Alouettes have been in both games they’ve played in this season. They lost their season opener 30-27 to Calgary, before suffering a hearting breaking 20-19 loss to the Toronto Argonauts in Week 2.
Montreal quarterback, Vernon Adams Jr. completed just two of his four passing attempts for 14 yards midway into the second quarter of Week 2. The Als then made the decision to let Trevor Harris to take over under centre for the remainder of the game.
Harris would go on to complete 18 passes for 270 yards and threw an interception. With Adams unavailable for the Als this week due to illness, Harris is listed as the team’s No.1 quarterback and will make his first start of the 2022 season against the Riders.
Als head coach Khari Jones said the decision to switch quarterbacks in Week 2 was made strictly in order to win games.
“I just felt like it was time,” Jones told MontrealAlouettes.com. “We weren’t really moving in that first quarter and I just felt like Trevor would give us a little lift there. He did a solid job. I’m not sending any message or anything. I’m just trying to win football games. That’s all I’m looking to do. We happen to have solid quarterbacks and I was just trying to get the best quarterback in there.”
Harris will be looking to connect with receivers, Eugene Lewis and Reggie White Jr. when they lineup against a Roughriders defence that allowed 315 yards through the air in their Week 2 win over Edmonton.
Lewis caught seven passes for 127 yards, including 39 and 42 yard receptions in the second quarter against the Argos. White Jr. caught six passes for 83 yards.
Thursday night marks the second game the Als will be without star running back William Stanback as he recovers from an ankle injury suffered in Week 1.
In Week 2, it was Jeshrun Antwi who was called on to be the primary back for Montreal. He carried the ball eight times for 29 yards and saw five targets in the passing game.
Approaching Thursday night’s matchup, he’ll be up against a tough against a Saskatchewan defence that surrendered just 47 yards on the ground in their win over the Elks.
Despite suffering a loss this past week, the Als defence managed to hold McLeod Bethel-Thompson and company to just one touchdown.
Cornerback, Mike Jones was arguably the Als best player in Week 2. He had a first quarter interception overturned, but proved to be valuable in coverage all game against the Double Blue. Montreal will certainly be relying on another standout performance against a versatile Riders offence.
Montreal’s defence will need to maintain defensive pressure for 60 minutes against Riders quarterback Cody Fajardo. Fajardo has thrown for 558 yards and a pair of touchdowns through two games. It’s still early, but his average 9.6 yards per completion so far this year is the highest of his career.
In their Week 2 win over Edmonton, Shaq Evans was once again Fajardo’s main target, catching five of his eight targets for 81-yards.
Mitchell Picton and Kian Schaffer-Baker will also provide formidable options the Als must find a way to slow down. Picton contributed to the Riders win in Week 2 with a 28-yard reception for a touchdown, he followed up the touchdown by catching the ensuing two-point conversion.
One of the biggest turnarounds from Week 1 to Week 2 for the Riders was the success of running back Jamal Morrow on the ground.
Morrow rushed for 126 yards and a touchdown against the Elks after managing just 14 yards on nine carries the week prior. He also factoed into the receiving game with four catches for 28 yards. He’ll be looking to carry that momentum into the game against an Als defensive unit that allowed 107 yards on the ground versus Toronto in Week 2.
Morrow also continued to make an impact in the kick return game, returning a pair of kickoffs for 47 total yards on Saturday night.
The increased workload of having to perform multiple roles for the team doesn’t seem to bother him.
“Whatever the team needs, I’m here for it,” he told riderville.com. “I have no problem doing the kick return game and then going in as the running back. As long as we get the win that’s all that matters.”
Head coach Craig Dickenson has been happy with the versatility that Morrow has brought to the team and looks forward to more of the same in the weeks to come. The depth at the position allows the Riders to spread Morrow out.
“Jamal’s a good player and he can do a lot of different things,” Dickenson told riderville.com. “We’re glad he’s on our team. We have two good tailbacks, Frankie (Hickson) is a good one too. We’ve had both of them playing, but we also want to go with the hot hand.”
When all was said and done, Morrow’s performance landed him as one of three CFL Top Performers for Week 2.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Riders have held opponents to 29 points and have allowed just 71 rush yards through two weeks.
Their three-headed linebacker corps of Larry Dean, Darnell Sankey and Derrick Moncrief combined for 15 defensive tackles last week. Dean, Sankey, along with defensive linemen Garrett Marino, Pete Robertson and Anthony Lanier II all recorded a sack. Making for 13 sacks in two games for the Riders defence, no other team in the league has more than four sacks.
Against the opposing passing game, it was Moncrief and safety Mike Edem who were patrolling the air. Edem and Moncrieff each recorded an interception, bringing the Saskatchewan total to four and tying the league lead.
The Riders defensive unit will look to capitalize on an Alouette offence that has allowed six sacks and thrown three interceptions through two games.
However, if there’s an area for improvement for the 2-0 Riders heading into Week 3, it’s giving up yardage through penalties. They took 14 penalties that totalled 134 yards in Edmonton.
The Als finished 3-4 at home in 2021. The Riders are have already won once on the road and will look to do so again when they travel to Percival Molson Memorial Stadium on Thursday night.
Kickoff in Montreal is set for 7:30p.m. ET, the game can be seen on TSN, RDS, ESPN2 and can be followed along on CFL.ca’s Game Tracker.