Five Thoughts Ahead of Tonight’s Game

John Hodge provides five quick thoughts ahead of tonight’s preseason game between Hamilton and Winnipeg at Investors Group Field. Be sure to check back at 3DownNation after the game for Hodge’s weekly ‘Bomber Thoughts’ blog post.

1. Excuses at an end for Willy

Drew Willy disappointed down the stretch of the 2014 season. Battered and bruised behind a shaky offensive line, Willy finished the season with just fourteen touchdowns to sixteen interceptions. These numbers are particularly disappointing numbers when one considers the tremendous four-touchdown performance Willy gave in the season opener versus Toronto.

Despite the disappointing nature of the second half of Willy’s season, the Bombers handed their starter a big, fat contract extension this off-season that will keep him in blue and gold through 2017. This move ended any excuses that may have been thrown around to account for Willy’s struggles. With a healthy body, revamped offensive line, twenty professional starts under his belt, and a shiny new contract, Willy must perform in 2015. With Hamilton slated sit out up to six regular starters on defence on Friday night, I’d like to see Willy put up a minimum of 150 yards through the air along with a couple of scores.

2. Hurl in the middle

The release of internationals Denicos Allen, Curtis Taylor, and Rodney Lamar means the Bombers have decided to go national at middle linebacker. Jesse Briggs, slated to back-up newcomer Sam Hurl this season, looked good in Toronto a week ago. Tonight is the first chance for Bomber fans to check out Hurl at the starting spot.

3. O-line has to look right

Rookie Sukh Chungh will get a second consecutive start at right guard beside second-year tackle Jace Daniels. Barring a remarkable turn of events, this means the pair can expect to start week one of the regular season in Regina. Chungh was excellent in the run game last week but struggled at times with over-aggressiveness in pass protection. Daniels, meanwhile, got off to a shaky start before settling down nicely in protection of Willy’s front side. I’ll be watching both tonight like a hawk.

4. Do the DB shuffle

The Bombers have been experimenting all through camp with DBs Chris Randle, Johnny Adams, Don Unamba, Shaquille Richardson, and Demetrius Wright taking turns at cornerback, halfback, and SAM linebacker. Friday night’s game will be our last chance to see how these players perform ahead of the regular season and should reveal the plan for how Mike O’Shea and company plan to dispatch their defensive backs come the regular season.

5. Revenge is a dish best served gold

The Bombers sent a skeleton crew to Hamilton two years ago that got dusted by a score of 52-0 in their second preseason game. Considering the number of back-ups the Ti-Cats are sending to Winnipeg for tonight match-up, it’d be nice to see the Bombers return the favor.

John Hodge is a Canadian football reporter based in Winnipeg.