Montreal Alouettes Preseason Week 1 Recap
Despite the Montreal Alouettes being a fairly top-heavy team in terms of talent, there were still questions to answer heading into the 2022 season. Including the quarterback position. With names like Vernon Adams, Trevor Harris, Davis Alexander, Dominique Davis, and Ben Holmes on the roster this will be a battle to see who shakes out as the top three.
Quarterbacks Making it a Tough Decision for Coaches
Vernon Adams is the expected starter. The team reaffirmed that status by allowing him to sit out the week 1 performance. Instead, the first quarterback off the bench was Trevor Harris. Harris is expected to be the top backup again in 2022.
Harris came out and played well. He completed 9 of 12 passes for 124 yards and 1 touchdown. He threw the only passing touchdown on the day. He also led the team in passing yards. However, his 75% completion rate ended up being the lowest of the four quarterbacks who appeared in the game.
Dominique Davis is challenging for the top backup spot this preseason. He would come out and attempt 13 passes for 95 yards completing 11 of his passes. He had an 84.6% completion rate and STILL didn’t lead the team in this show of efficiency. Davis looked good and kept the competition for the quarterback spot rolling into next week.
Behind Adams, Harris, and Davis is a rookie by the name of Davis Alexander. Coming out of Portland State University, he played in 29 games but had an untimely limit on playing time his senior season. He has recovered and joined the Alouettes. He is hoping to make the roster as the number 3 quarterback. Alexander offers the highest upside and looks to be a solid developmental prospect going forward.
Alexander is a very mobile quarterback who can certainly help his team in the run game with 287 carries in college, averaging nearly 10 rushing attempts per game. He also scored 19 touchdowns on the ground. The main question about him coming out of college was accuracy. He silenced those critics in week one, for now.
He attempted 14 passes, completing 11 topping a 78% completion rate. He had the second-most passing yards on the team with 106 yards. He also had 3 carries for 7 yards and 1 touchdown. Which ironically led the team in carries, yards, and touchdowns on the ground showing why the Alouettes attempted a total of 46 passes.
The final quarterback to get playing time was none other than former USFL 4th overall draft pick Ben Holmes. Holmes was released by the New Jersey Generals following an injury that was rumored to keep him out for 8 weeks. It is week 7 in the USFL, and Ben Holmes is playing in his first CFL action. That narrative falls apart fairly quickly.
With rumors abound about what led to his departure, and his former team standing 6-1 and having clinched a playoff spot thanks to the man who replaced him for the Generals what did Holmes do? He came out and looked calm, and collected. He attempted 7 passes with just 1 incompletion for 38 yards. Not bad for a man who entered high school as a wide receiver before moving to quarterback long-term.
Deepest Wide Receiver Room in the CFL
At wide receiver with the sheer amount of targets they had, a lot of guys got to showcase their abilities on the field. None more than Krishawn Hogan.
Hogan was targeted 12 times, catching 11 passes for 102 yards and 22 yards after the catch. Hogan bounced around the NFL with the Cardinals, Colts, and Saints. He spent four seasons on active rosters in the US before heading north. His 6’3 222 pound frame is perfect for jump balls and allows him to body defensive backs right out of the play on 50/50 balls which was on display in this game.
Next up was Reggie White Jr, who at 6’3 210 lbs is another guy with prototypical X receiver size. He also showed in his rookie year in 2021 that he can play at the CFL level. Playing in just 5 games he was targeted 24 times and caught 18 passes for 177 yards and 2 touchdowns. In week 1 of the preseason, he was able to haul in 3 of 4 targets for 62 yards and the only passing touchdown of the day.
Global receiver Kevin Kaya hailing from France was targeted 7 times catching 5 passes for 45 yards. At 6’3 195 pounds, he is yet another taller target a theme in Montreal. All of these guys are fighting for their professional careers given the fact that the Alouettes spent two CFL National Draft Picks at wide receiver as well.
5’11 200 lb Fabian Guerra was targeted 5 times. He caught 4 passes for 24 yards with 11 yards coming after the catch. He is an interesting name to watch. He got his start in the professional world in 2018 with the Carolina Cobras of the National Arena League.
Guerra initially resigned with the Cobras for the 2019 season. Then the Alliance of American Football was born. He announced his intention to pursue a chance with the Memphis Express. He made the team. This is when his career got interesting. He was cut after week 1 in the AAF, he then signed with the Columbus Destroyers of the Arena Football League, before also signing a deal with the Cobras once again.
However, Guerra has always had his heart set on the outdoor game and returned to it in 2020 with the Montreal Alouettes. He was ultimately released in April of 2021 but brought back for the 2022 offseason. He spent the brief stint in between playing with The Spring League. Guerra has long odds to make the team, but we will see how things go.
On the defensive side of the ball:
The defense was able to produce 3 sacks. Two of which were logged by men who haven’t played in a CFL regular-season game yet.
Linebacker Josh Harvey-Clemons had 1 tackle and 1 sack. The 6’4 220 lb linebacker bounced around the NFL for a while before taking the opportunity with the Alouettes. He was with the Washington Commanders from 2017-to 2020. He played a hybrid role of linebacker and strong safety which is very similar to what he will do with the CFL. His professional statistics currently stand at 41 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 4 passes deflected, and 2 tackles for loss. He looks to add to that total in 2022.
American Defensive End Chris Favoroso collected a tackle and a sack as well. Favoroso is fairly young having left college in 2019. His rookie season would have fallen in 2020 during the canceled season. He came to Montreal before the 2021 season but didn’t get into a game. Favoroso showed what he can do in 2017 with the University of Montana. Collecting 44 tackles, including 13 for a loss, 6 sacks, 1 forced fumble, and 1 pass deflection. He has the talent, and versatility to be a solid performer for the Als.
The last man on this list is a notable name from the 2021 season. He joined the team via free agency before 2021. Nick Usher a 6’3 235 pound pass rusher from UTEP produced 5 sacks last season for the Alouettes and collects 1 sack in week 1 of the preseason showing he is already in midseason form. In 2019 before the covid 19 marred 2020 season, he was able to notch 6 sacks for Edmonton. I am curious to see how big of a role he plays in 2022.
Several Men Battling For Specialist Spots
At kick-off specialists, they have the incumbent. Kicker David Cote served as the kick-off specialist, and primary kicker last season. However, it seems the Alouettes would like to turn kick-off duties over to someone else so Cote can focus on field goals. Despite this, they still allowed him the first kick-off which he boomed for 73 yards, the high of the game for the Alouettes.
Behind him is Andrew Foster a rookie punter from Morehead State. In college, he handled all the kicking/punting duties for five seasons. He was a better punter than he was a kicker, however. He had a career kick conversion rate of just under 60%. He attempted just 1 kick-off for 64 yards and had 3 punts for 109 yards but just a 29-yard net average.
The last man tossing his hat in the ring for the kick-off specialist position is the top pick in the 2022 USFL Specialist draft class, and week 4 Special Teams Player of the Week Matt Mengel. Mengel is a triple threat in the kicking game. He lands with Montreal in a competition for the punter and kick-off specialist spot. But adds value as a backup kicker in the event of injury to Cote. Mengel attempted 1 kick-off for 56 yards and 2 punts for 74 yards. He led the team in net average on punts showing his ability to hang the ball when needed.
The only man not yet listed is Joesph Zema. Part of the reason he has competition on the roster is the fact that he is primarily a punter and has never kicked off before. He was solid in his rookie season last year, but the Alouettes seem intent on taking kick-off duties off of Cote’s plate. The 2021 rookie attempted 2 punts for 86 yards but averaged 36 yards net. Zema has the inside track to the punter job if the Alouettes can live with Cote kicking off and having no real backup option at kicker.
Looking For Answers With Limited Time
After Week 1 there has been a host of data and film collected on the men listed above doing battle for limited roster spots. However, there is still one more preseason game to sort out the remaining roster battles. With just 9 days until they kick off the regular season the next week of practice and week 2 of the preseason is nothing short of crucial for the fringe roster players fighting for their opportunity to play in the regular season.
I know one thing for certain, no matter how these battles shake out, Montreal is likely to boast one of the best rosters in the Canadian Football League. Check back here on CFLnewshub.com for a review of week 2, and a breakdown of the cuts made before week 1 of the regular season.
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