Bomber Thoughts: Week Twelve, Saskatchewan at Winnipeg

Bomber Thoughts is a blogging series for which Blue Bomber Talk author John Hodge writes new posts immediately following every Blue Bomber game of the season.

Winnipeg Blue Bombers v Saskatchewan Roughriders

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers defeated the Saskatchewan Roughriders on Saturday evening by a final score of 22-7. Here are my thoughts:

1. I’ve been talking up this Blue Bomber defence for weeks. Though many people have criticized Richie Hall’s unit for allowing the league’s second-most yards per game, it’s important to remember that time of possession plays a huge in role in yards for and against. Coming into week twelve, Winnipeg’s defence was averaging almost thirty-six minutes per game — far too many for any unit to be successful. On Saturday evening the Bomber defence was on the field for just twenty-eight minutes and fourteen seconds. The result? 212 yards allowed with five sacks and two interceptions against the league’s top-ranked offence. That’s impressive.

2. Matt Nichols was solid in his Blue Bomber debut, completing twenty-one of thirty passes for 283 yards and a touchdown. The sixth-year pivot was also charged with an interception on Darvin Adams’ first quarter bobble, but that error was on the receiver. Nichols will never be an all-star, but he’s a competent back-up and the type of steady pivot this Bomber club sorely needs. Considering how pleased Nichols was after the game — he told TSN’s Sara Orlesky that tonight’s game was the most fun he’d had playing football since college — you’d have to think there will be mutual interest in a contract extension before Nichols hits free agency this February.

3. Don’t look now, but the combination of Drew Willy and Matt Nichols gives the Bombers something they haven’t had since before I can remember — a solid starter and a decent back-up quarterback.

4. Reports out of practice this week indicated that Drew Willy is no longer on crutches, but can still barely walk. Considering he was hurt five weeks ago tomorrow, somehow I doubt the Bombers’ original 6-8 week projection for Willy’s return will end up being accurate.

5. I wrote a piece earlier this week on the trade of veteran guard Chris Greaves. If you haven’t already, feel free to check it out here.

6. Speaking of guards, I thought rookie Sam Longo struggled tonight. His first quarter whiff on John Chick’s stunt was what led to Matt Nichols’ first fumble of the night.

7. It’s unfortunate that Chris Randle will miss the rest of the season, but it’s great to see Maurice Leggett playing closer to the line of scrimmage in Randle’s vacated SAM linebacker spot. Leggett, the club’s Most Outstanding Defensive Player a year ago, put up a team-leading six tackles along with two sacks in his expanded role in Hall’s defence.

8. Newcomer Justin Cole has three sacks in three games in blue and gold. That’s more than Bryant Turner (2) and Greg Peach (0) have on the season. Combined.

9. With all due respect to Edmonton’s Derel Walker, Khalil Bass’ Banjo Bowl performance should have him leading the race for the Western Division’s Most Outstanding Rookie Award. With a game-sealing pick-six now on his resume, Bass has fifty-six tackles and four sacks in eleven career CFL games. That’s outstanding.

10. It was great to see the Bombers run a successful fake punt in the first half of Saturday’s Banjo Bowl. Plays like that were what Bomber fans were expecting when Mike O’Shea was hired as the team’s head coach on December 4th, 2013. It’s a shame it took more than 600 days to see one such play come to fruition.

11. Rod Pederson said on TSN1290 radio earlier this week that the season of whoever lost this game would be “probably over.” Somebody needs to tell Rod that Saskatchewan’s season ended a month ago.

12. Regina’s mayor apparently isn’t aware that the Bombers-Riders season series is over. Whoops.

Regina mayor

13. If you’re a fan of the Bombers’ royal blue uniforms, make sure you don’t miss this week’s Blue Bomber Talk Podcast. Tim and I will be breaking some big news that we think will make you very, very happy.

14. I can’t help but wonder how last week’s Labour Day Classic would have gone had Matt Nichols started for the blue and gold. We’ll never know, but, as I said before last Sunday’s game, the Bombers were never going to win with Brohm at the helm.

15. The officiating in Friday night’s Hamilton-Toronto game was terrible and Saturday’s Banjo Bowl was no different. CFL referees don’t wrap themselves in glory at the best of times, but this week has been a true disaster thus far. And Andre Proulx hasn’t officiated his weekly game yet. Jeez.

16. Speaking of disasters, the Labour Day Classic and the Banjo Bowl always spark conversation about which fan base is more disrespectful to visiting fans. It’s a tired debate and not one worth having. The sad truth is that there are jerks on both sides of the rivalry — all you can do is not be one of them.

17. With the win, the Bombers are now 4-7 on the season. It’s an ugly record, but, depending on whether or not Montreal and/or BC can get it together over the next month, it has the Bombers in a decent position to make a push for the third and final playoff spot in the CFL’s Western Division. With the Bombers set to play in Montreal next week — one of the few places where the Bombers always seem to win — things are about to become very interesting in Bomberland. Game on.

John Hodge, Blue Bomber Talk

Twitter: @BlueBomberTalk


John Hodge is a Canadian football reporter based in Winnipeg.