Canadian receivers, standout defenders & eight other thoughts on the Redblacks tying Montreal

Photo Scott Grant /
Photo courtesy: Scott Grant/

On a night when many around the league learned a tied CFL pre-season game ends without overtime, the Ottawa Redblacks left Montreal without the win, but with a  better idea of where a few players stand at the end of the pre-season.

Here are my thoughts on the game:

1) Dominique Davis and Jonathan Jennings didn’t make the trip, which meant the battle for the number three quarterback position took centre stage. After a decent performance against Hamilton, Will Arndt got the start against the Alouettes. Although he had a few off-target throws (including an interception), for the most part, he looked comfortable in the offence and decisive in his reads. He displayed good touch on his passes as he went 16-of-23 for 184 yards and an interception. Arndt also plunged in for a quarterback sneak touchdown from the one-yard line. That’s something R-Nation might see a lot of in 2019, as Ottawa uses its third string quarterback primarily in shortage situations, and Arndt did enough to lock down that position.

As for Danny Collins, he continued to struggle. A week after completing only a single pass attempt, Collins went 12-of-20 for 127 yards and an interception. It wasn’t a surprise to see him become a roster cutdown casualty.

2) Although he didn’t have the best night running the ball (turning four carries into 14 yards), John Crockett more than made up for it by being a factor in the passing game. Crockett proved to be a reliable check down option, catching four passes, but more impressive than the catches themselves was his ability to make defenders miss and create positive yardage after the ball was in his hands. Crockett finished the night with 38 receiving yards and 33 of them came after the catch.

3) In the congested receiving corps battle, three Canadians distanced themselves from the competition. Jacob Scarfone led all receivers with a game high seven catches for 75 yards. Two of his catches moved the chains on second down. Second year Laval product Marco Dubois turned four targets into four catches for 49 yards. Lastly, Nate Behar made four catches for 28 yards, including one that moved the chains on second down, and another on the game’s final possession to keep the drive alive on third down.

4) Given that most of Ottawa’s secondary played soft against the Alouettes, DeAndre Farris’ efforts should earn him a roster spot. Farris had three tackles, three knockdowns and would have had an interception if not for a phantom roughing the passer call. Can’t hold it against the officials though, it’s the pre-season for everyone after all.

5) On a night when the Redblacks left 38 players in Ottawa, it was somewhat surprising to see former NFLer and experienced CFL player Jonathan Newsome not only suit up, but play nearly the entire game at a brand new position. Against Montreal, Newsome lined up at the middle linebacker position, one he has never previously played in the CFL. He’s started games at defensive end and last week, got the nod at weak side linebacker. His versatility is a testament to his ability and it was nice to see him rewarded with a fourth quarter fumble recovery touchdown for his efforts. Newsome’s been a good solider and his “learning experiences” at linebacker in the pre-season could pay dividends down the road.

6) Time for a Global player check in. With Lewis Ward and Richie Leone not making the trip, Jose Maltos handled all kicking duties. He averaged 42.3 net yards per kickoff, 36.4 net yards per punt and made 2-of-3 field goal attempts, missing from 26 yards. As for receiver Guillermo Villalobos, he turned six targets into two catches for 16 yards.

7) Count me amongst those who like the Als’ uniform and logo change. It’s clean, crisp and the unique helmet logo looks great. For a franchise that’s struggled to do much of anything right in recent times, they knocked their makeover out of the park.

8) Things kicks off for real in Calgary next Saturday. Given that no Ottawa team has won at McMahon Stadium since 2004, a tough task lies ahead for the Redblacks. But what better way to start the season off than by measuring yourself against the reigning Grey Cup champions?

Santino Filoso is originally from Ottawa and has written about the Redblacks since 2013. He is the only CFL writer currently living in Brazil (as far as we know).