I wouldn’t have blamed a single person if they had projected the Redblacks to lose last week against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. The Blue Bombers have been one of the most consistent and talented franchises in the CFL for many years. It’s no accident that they continue to wind up in the Grey Cup even if they did lose their last appearance.
“So you’re telling me there’s a chance?”
Heading into this game as we all knew, Jeremiah Masoli was diagnosed with an Achilles tear ending his season just a week after we got news Tyrie Adams had torn his ACL, ending his season as well. With Arbuckle’s struggles this led to Crum getting his chance to finish the game against Hamilton.
Crum kept Ottawa competitive but made a few mistakes that left in question if the Redblacks would target a veteran free agent, even possibly McLeod Bethel-Thompson. Compounding these thoughts MBT was released by the USFL paving the way for him to sign with another team. Versus Hamilton his stat line wasn’t pretty 14 of 21 for 149 yards, 0 touchdowns, 2 interceptions. He rushed 6 times for 91 yards and 1 touchdown.
Over the last game and a half he earned the start going forward after displaying mobility, toughness, leadership, and most importantly a little bit of magic. Every great quarterback in any league needs to be able to make magic happen when the game is on the line. Great quarterbacks will rise to the occasion on last second drives and will lead their team to victory and that’s precisely what Crum did with less than a minute remaining to tie the game.
Week in Review
On that last drive alone Crum collected 82 passing yards going 7 for 7 on the drive if you include the 2 point conversion. He scored the touchdown on an impressive 12 yard run where he would not be denied the end-zone. Knotting the game up with 9 seconds remaining this game was headed to overtime.
The Redblacks would go second on offense in overtime, to some an advantage in this situation. Winnipeg drove down field, but the defense stiffened up when it was needed the most. Stopping the Blue Bombers and forcing a field goal. The Blue Bombers held the lead 28-25 with Crum given one more change to defeat the dynasty. Once again Crum took the game in his hands.
On first down coordinator Khari Jones called a run play to Devonte Williams that went for 6 yards. Putting Ottawa in a very favorable position on second down. Crum decided he wasn’t going to leave it up to a third down attempt. He took off running 29 yards away from the end zone and again he willed his team to victory by forcing his way into the end zone.
He finished the game 26 of 42 for 261 yards 0 touchdowns and 1 interception rushing 9 times for 103 yards and 2 touchdowns.
To this point: 40 of 63 for 410 yards 0 touchdowns, 3 interceptions, 15 carries 194 yards and 3 touchdowns.
He by no means had a perfect game but to be quite honest very few quarterbacks can or will ever have a perfect game in their career. Mistakes happen it’s what you do after these mistakes that define who you are as a quarterback.
Crum showed me that he can have a short term memory, not dwelling on mistakes and simply focusing on what it’s going to take to win the game. That last drive was a thing of beauty and it makes me wonder if we will see more no huddle going forward.
Rushing Game Nonexistent
The Redblacks run game outside of Crum has been nonexistent. Tuggle had a huge game just two weeks ago, but it’s like he’s been lost in this offense and hasn’t been given the same amount of focus since. Against Hamilton the backs had just 16 carries for 45 yards, half what Crum produced on 6 carries.
Against Winnipeg it was more of the same. Devonte Williams, Jackson Bennett, Tyrell Pigrome, and Nick Arbuckle combined for 12 carries for 47 carries and 2 touchdowns. Crum is essentially a rookie quarterback and being asked to carry this offense, not unlike the way Ottawa approached the game with Arbuckle starting. I’m not quite sure why they continue to abandon the run game so early given that they’ve been forced to turn to their back up quarterbacks.
The Redblacks defense in consecutive weeks has stood tall against the run they held James Butler to 62 yards on 17 carries. They then followed that up by holding the Blue Bombers to just 14 carries for 26 yards as a team. This actually wound up being a significant factor in their victory. The Redblacks dominated time of possession 47:07 to 21:38. If the Blue Bombers had found a way to possess the ball for even 1 more minute they likely win this game.
The defense also found ways to get off the field on second down. Holding Winnipeg to 8 of 20 on 2nd down. The line produced 3 sacks forcing 23 yards lost. Blessman Ta’ala logged his first career sack, and has looked like a great pick in the 2023 draft. The Redblacks offense may have scored the winning points, but make no mistake it was the defense that kept them in this game and made victory possible.
I’m fairly certain when Dandrige takes off his pads you’ll find the familiar Superman logo underneath. This man has played lights out since the season began. In this latest game he corralled the only interception for Ottawa, while adding 146 return yards on 8 attempts.
Since the injury to DeVonte Desmond he has handled the punt return duties full time while dabbling in kick returns as well. So far in the season in 5 games he has 9 tackles, 2 interceptions for 25 yards and 1 touchdown, adding 7 kick returns for 175 yards or 25 yards per return, and 22 punt returns for 268 yards and 1 touchdown.
Honestly seeing him return kicks and punts I’m curious what he would look like on offense. However that’s likely not a realistic possibility with the depth at wideout, and his necessity to the defense.
Previewing Stampeders Part Two
Looking forward to this week’s game the Redblacks face the Calgary Stampeders for the second time this season. In their last matchup, Nick Arbuckle was the starting quarterback, and mustered just 15 points losing by 13.
The rushing attack as a whole produced just 42 yards running just nine times. This is one fact we know will not be repeated. Dustin Crum has done his damage on the ground and I expect that to continue in this weeks game. We may not see him near the 100 yard mark, but the team needs to cross the century mark to stay competitive in this game.
Justin Hardy was targeted ten times last game catching 6 games for 54 yards. He could be a huge contributor again in this game. His run after catch ability will be a factor in this weeks game.
Calgary is remarkably healthy heading into this game with just one player listed that didn’t practice Thursday. They could be getting several players back from injury in a key matchup for Ottawa.
Meanwhile the Redblacks have a Mash unit on their hands in Ottawa.
My biggest concern is on the defensive line where Lorenzo Mauldin the reigning CFL Sack King is questionable, and Blessman Ta’ala is out. If Mauldin misses this game Ottawa could struggle up front.
With Jackson Bennett hurt I hope to see more of Tuggle once again. Williams and Tuggle should make for an effective 1-2 punch but Ottawa seems invested in giving Bennett carries. Couple that with injuries and it’s a pairing we haven’t yet seen. Ryquell Armstead was released to bring in more depth on the defensive line this week as well. With Ta’ala ruled out, I have to agree with this decision.
Ottawa with Crum at the helm has scored 41 points in a game and a half. Without him in 3 1/2 games they scored 55 points. Crum may need to clean up some things in his game, but the offensive output has seen a dramatic uptick since he entered the lineup.
The Calgary offense has scored 24 points per game this season. The defense has allowed 99 points in that same stretch. This should be a close game, I would expect it to be decided by one score. Vegas has Ottawa as 4.5 point underdogs which I would say is fairly accurate. However I am predicting an upset here with Ottawa winning 28-24 in other words, bet on Ottawa, and bet the over.
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