The Montreal Alouettes enter the playoffs on a 5 game-winning streak. Looking at who stood out in their last 2 victories against the Edmonton Elks in week 19 and the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in week 21.
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Hamilton’s 4th Quarter Run Blocking Excelled
Hamilton’s interior offensive line had a great 4th quarter doing an excellent job of creating holes for Sean Thomas Erlington who also played exceptionally well in the 4th quarter. Erlington had 5 carries in the 4th quarter for 49 yards and a touchdown. If not for Kabion Ento’s interception with 4 minutes left it seemed like Hamilton was going to run away with the game. At the time Hamilton was driving with a 20-19 lead and had the ball on Montreal’s 51-yard line.
With Montreal’s pathway to the Grey Cup having talented running backs such as James Butler in Hamilton and A.J. Ouellette and Andrew Harris in Toronto strong run defence is essential. Hamilton rested James Butler in week 21 and their 2nd string runningback rushed 12 times for 80 yards (6.7 average) and a touchdown. Montreal did have more success in their run-stopping in the first 3 quarters as they held Erlington to 31 yards on 7 carries (4.4 yards per carry).
T.D. Moultry’s QB Hurry Led to 4th Quarter Interception
Montreal’s rookie defensive end out of Auburn T.D. Moultry did not record a stat in this contest. He did not receive as much playing time as I was expecting in this match with the standings being solidified. Moultry did have a QB hurry at a crucial time which came on Montreal’s 4th quarter interception. He beat Hamilton’s left tackle quickly and rushed the quarterback getting his hand up. Taylor Powell attempted to throw around his hand resulting in the throw being behind his targetted receiver. The ball was deflected and caught by Kabion Ento who returned the ball 23 yards to Hamilton’s 52.
Montreal’s Pass Coverage Played Another Great Game
Collectively Taylor Powell and Bo Levi Mitchell combined for 15 completions on 29 passes (51%) for 159 yards and 2 interceptions. That’s a 39.3 QBR. At times Montreal was also able to put additional pressure on the quarterback due to the good coverage preventing the passer from finding an open target.
Next week the difficulty will be increased against Hamilton with Tim White back in the lineup after sitting out week 21.
Montreal’s Run Game Played Well
William Stanback led the way with 7 carries for 48 yards. Stanback broke a couple of tackles on his 23-yard run. Stanback also had 2 receptions for 13 yards.
Jeshrunn Antwi had 4 carries for 18 yards. Antwi also had a reception for 18 yards which was all YAC making a player miss behind the line of scrimmage. Antwi’s yard per carry this year increased from 5.66 last year to 5.87 this season. However, his number of carries was drastically less after getting 106 carries last season he had only 39 carries this season. In part, this was due to William Stanback missing extended time last season. Regardless Antwi demonstrated himself to be a highly serviceable running back this season.
Montreal’s Passing Performance
Cody Fajardo played the first quarter, Caleb Evans played the 2nd and 3rd quarters, and Davis Alexander played the 4th quarter.
Cody Fajardo was efficient completing his first 2 passes for 36 yards and a touchdown after Montreal recovered a fumble on the opening kickoff. Fajardo spun away from pressure on a play that looked like he was about to be sacked and turned the play into a 2-yard gain running outside. Fajardo looked
Davis Alexander was also highly efficient throwing only 1 incompletion which was to avoid a sack from Simoni Lawrence who rushed into the backfield untouched. Alexander has demonstrated good accuracy in the past 2 CFL preseasons as well and he has completed 38 of his 52 passes (72%) over his preseason appearances. 18 of his 48 yards did come from a good play by Jeshrun Antwi getting YAC.
Despite playing the most Evans had the lowest production among the Alouettes’ quarterbacks in this game. One of his passes was dropped on an outside throw although the ball was sailed very high and took some time to reach its intended target.
There is less to discuss than what
Last season in week 21 Cole Spieker led the Alouettes in receiving yards with 6 receptions for 105 yards and a touchdown. He again led the Alouettes in receiving yards in week 21 this season although there was less passing production to around. Spieker showed good hands going up and grabbing a ball over the middle and also demonstrated his ability to fight for extra yards.
Tyler Snead led the team in YAC with 22 and finished the season 2nd in the CFL in YAC despite having limited usage earlier in the season.
The surprise here was for Austin Mack to not record a reception. He had 3 targets. The first target was bobbled before he was hit by Hamilton’s safety Stavros Katsantonis forcing the incompletion. The other 2 targets were broken up by Hamilton’s Kenneth George Jr. and Will Sunderland.
I thought overall the offensive line played well providing holes for the running back to launch from although that will be more difficult next week as Hamilton will bring their star defensive tackle, Casey Sayles, back into the lineup who was resting this week.
In pass protection, the offensive line played well overall but was not always recognizing the blitz and at times linebackers were able to enter the backfield cleanly. Hamilton had 7 total pressures from 2 linebackers Chris Edwards and Simoni Lawrence. Montreal allowed 3 sacks in week 21 with only 1 of those sacks being to a defensive lineman.
Jamal Davis II seemed fired up to face his old team as he had a QB hurry and a QB hit as well as assisted 3 different run stops.
On Fajardo’s touchdown, wide receiver Regis Cibasu moved to the backfield presnap setting up essentially a splitback formation with William Stanback on the other side of Fajardo. This formation provided the pass protection required for Fajardo to connect with Tyson Philpot for the touchdown.
As mentioned earlier defensive end T.D. Moultry hurried the quarterback late in the 4th quarter leading to the inaccurate throw which was intercepted.
Mustafa Johnson continued his strong play with 3 run stops and a QB hit.
Lwal Uguak continues to show a strong return on investment after being a first-round draft pick for Montreal this past offseason. He now has 4 sacks in the last 5 games.
Shawn Lemon has proven to be a tremendous free-agent acquisition and leads the team in sacks with 9 over 13 games played.
One thing that sticks out to me with Montreal is how well they utilize their linebackers in different blitz packages. Montreal has handled a lot of injuries among their linebacking group this season. Reggie Stubblefield has made a case for himself to be rookie of the year after stepping into a big hole left following Najee Murray’s season-ending injury. Stubblefield made 2 stops against the pass in week 21 tackling the receiver for a loss and also had a QB hurry.
Tyrice Beverette had 3 QB hurries and a stop against the pass.
Avery Williams had a QB hurry, a run stop, and a stop against the pass as well as helping with another run stop.
Darnell Sankey had 2 run stops, a QB hit, helped with another run stop, and broke up a pass. Sankey also had an interception on the final play of the game. Sankey made a smart play closing in to the ball carrier as Reggie Stubblefield made a stop and punched the ball out of his hands before he hit the ground and recovered the ball himself.
Kabion Ento had a great game at corner making 2 stops against the pass and did not allow any big plays his way. He had the 4th quarter interception. He also provided tight coverage later on an incompletion on 3rd down.
Marc-Antoine Dequoy forced a fumble on the opening kickoff getting Montreal the ball in great field position.
Ciante Evans broke up a 20-yard pass in the third quarter. Wesley Sutton also broke up a pass that was an attempt deep downfield.
Dionte Ruffin played a good game overall but was beaten on a 37-yard pass down the right sideline with the receiver coming back to the ball. Ruffin also had a 43-yard pass completed his way to Kiondre Smith in the third quarter although the coverage was not bad it was more so an excellent throw from Taylor Powell and a good catch from Smith.
Dishon Mcnary Jr. had a play in which he made a big hit on Sean Thomas Erlington on a short pass that resulted in an incompletion.
Montreal’s returners all played well. James Letcher Jr. had a 125-yard missed field goal return for a touchdown in week 19 against Edmonton and scored a touchdown again in week 21 on a 99-yard punt return.
Tyler Snead looked good on his 2 kickoff returns which he averaged 31.5 yards on. Snead had 2 kickoff return touchdowns in college.
In field goals, David Cote missed a 45-yard field goal to the right and a 50-yard field goal was accurate but did not have quite enough distance to make it. He made both of his field goals from within 40 yards. One of the missed field goals was returned 122 for a touchdown by Tyreik McAllister.
Joseph Zema had the longest punt of his CFL career at 69 yards. He averaged 46.1 yards per punt over 10 punts placing the ball in good spots for the cover team to prevent returns. Montreal limited Tyreik McAllister to only 35 total yards over 6 punt returns. Brock Gowanlock had 3 special teams tackles including a good shoestring tackle covering a punt.
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