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October 6, 2018

PREVIEW: CGY @ MTL

Can they reverse the curse?

The Stampeders head to Montreal to take on the Alouettes this Thanksgiving, looking for their first victory at Molson Stadium in nearly five years.

It’s a new team, a new season, and the Stampeders like their chances.

“We’re hoping that our guys re focused and ready to play,” said head coach Dave Dickenson. “We’ve had a little bit of issues there, but I’m going to focus on the positives. All year we’ve been a different team, we’re working hard, and we have no excuses. We play to win and I don’t expect it to change when we’re out there in Montreal.”

And the players agree – there’s a reason the windshield is bigger than the rearview mirror.

“We just have to let the past be the past and focus on the task at hand,” said defensive back Brandon Smith. “We have to stay locked into the game plan, and not let any of the off-side distractions get us.

“We’re about today, and we’re about this week. We just have to keep the course; we’re playing good football, so we’ll continue to do that.”

And to win this week, the Stampeders’ defence will have to work quickly to shut down Montreal quarterback Johnny Manziel.

“We just have to continue to play within the scheme of our defence,” Smith explained. “We have some guys up front who do a good job getting after the quarterback…That’s the key to the game, we have to win up front – and we have a good chance of doing that with the front seven.”

That shouldn’t be too much of an issue given the Red & White’s lights-out defence this year.

The bigger focus now is solidifying their offensive plan as the Stamps’ line-up is expected to see more changes this week.

“Eric Rogers practiced a good half,” Dickenson said at practice Thursday. “We also got a lot extra out of Chris Matthews, so we do feel better about our receiving corps. I do expect Eric to be ready, and we’ll see if ratio-wise if the other guy can draw in, but he’s trending in the right direction so it’d be nice to have him out there.”

“Matthews is a pro, he’s a guy that can come in and play well, there would be some adjustments…but at some point soon I’d like to get him on the field.”

But regardless of who’s out there, they’ll have to battle hard to get around Montreal’s defence, who has been finding plenty of success as of late.

“We’ve been watching the tape from last time, and seeing everything they’ve been doing the last few weeks,” said running back Don Jackson. “They had a very good game plan against the run last week, and I think we struggled offensively as a whole, but we saw all those things and we want to be able to capitalize on the things we’re good at.

“I expect the guys filling in for the guys that are hurt to come in and do the things they’re supposed to do, every guy on the field we have a faith in – that’s from the top-to-bottom of the roster, so we’re good.”

With a home playoff game also on the line on Monday, you can expect the Stamps to bring everything they’ve got to the City of Saints.

“It’s important to get it done,” Dickenson said. “It’s big for our organization, and for our team, we want that home playoff game – that’s priority one. Then if you can tick another box and get the bye then you feel good about your season, not that it’s going to be successful yet because you have to try and finish at the end.

“We’re doing the right things; but we have a lot of improving to do, and a lot of work to do. We’re a different team, each week we seem to have a different roster, so there’s a lot of competition which is good, and hopefully we play well.”