November 16, 2018

In The Trenches

CALGARY, AB - JUNE 16, 2018: The Calgary Stampeders won 28-14 against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats at McMahon Stadium on Saturday's Home Opener. (Photo by Angela Burger/Calgary Stampeders)

We’re ready for a slugfest.

As Sunday’s Western Final tilt against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers nears, the Stampeders’ offensive line is bracing to take on a tough front seven.

“I think the biggest thing is their physicality,” said Derek Dennis of the Bombers’ booming defensive line. “They’re going to come, and they’re going to come hard.

“They’re representative of their head coach (Mike O’Shea), the type of player he was. You can tell that he prides himself on making sure his team is physical, so we know that we’re in for pretty much a street fight.

“Everything’s on the line, there’s nothing to hold back.”

It’s a game that will no doubt be won in the trenches.

“They do a great job of trying to create single blocks all the way across the board,” explained offensive line coach Pat DelMonaco. “Most of the time they bring five at least, at times on second down they’ll bring six – that requires your back to block too. They’re trying to create single blocks all the way across the board – you need to be able to win your one-on-ones.”

Sounds simple, right?

Not exactly.

“They do a lot of things to try and confuse you,” said Brad Erdos. “You have to be ready for everything coming from the front.”

“It can make things tricky.”

That includes some extra additions to the blitz.

“They’re a defence that likes to put their playmakers in positions to make plays,” Dennis said “They’ve got a great group of linebackers – they know how to rush the passer, as well as coverage. They even drop their defensive ends, or defensive tackles into coverage.”

It’s nothing they can’t handle, though.

“We just prepare for their substitution packages,” added coach DelMonaco. “Which also creates tendencies though – you have a better idea of what they’re trying to do based upon who they’re bringing out on the field. Just like they have to execute their plan, we need to execute our plan against what they’re doing.”

And if the Stamps’ execute their plan properly, quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell’s going to have a lot more time to hang onto the ball.

When that happens, you’re going to have a good day.

And when the run game gets going early, it makes it that much better.

“It’s our job to make sure we keep Bo comfortable in the pocket, and that we open up holes for Don (Jackson), Terry (Williams) and Romar (Morris) – so they can do what they’re good at.

“I think the run game is going to be crucial. I think teams know that when we’re running the ball it makes it easier for Bo to stand back there and make plays, we don’t want to make the game one dimensional.”

“Especially in cooler weather, you have to get the run game going,” said Erdos. “If it’s too cold out and the ball’s a rock and you can’t catch it very well, you’ve got to run it so that’s a priority.”

Other than that, it’s a pretty straightforward plan.

“We need to be ready for a 60 minute fight,” DelMonaco said. “We have to be ready to keep throwing punches. It’s going to be a game with ebbs and flows; we have to ride the little lows and really accelerate through those highs.”

“If we play to up to our potential and we ball out like we can – we’ll be ok,” said Erdos.