The Montreal Alouettes will play their first home game of the 2022 season as they host the Saskatchewan Roughriders on Thursday night.
It will also be the third straight Thursday night game for Montreal to start the year.
Despite their 2-0 record, the Alouettes have featured in both games this season. They lost their season opener 30-27 to Calgary before suffering a heartbreaking 20-19 loss to the Toronto Argonauts in Week 2.
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Montreal quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. completed just two of his four pass attempts for 14 yards midway through the second quarter of week two. The Als then made the decision to let Trevor Harris take over at center for the remainder of the game.
Harris completed 18 passes for 270 yards and threw an interception. With Adams unavailable for the Als this week due to illness, Harris is listed as the team’s No. 1 quarterback and will make his first start of the 2022 season against the Riders.
As head coach Khari Jones said the decision to switch quarterbacks in Week 2 was made solely to win games.
“I just felt like it was about time,” Jones told MontrealAlouettes.com. “We didn’t really move in the first quarter and I just felt like Trevor would help us out there a little bit. He did a solid job. I’m not sending a message or anything. I’m just trying to win soccer games. That’s all I intend to do. We happen to have solid quarterbacks and I was just trying to put the best quarterback in there.”
Harris will look to connect with receivers Eugene Lewis and Reggie White Jr. as they line up against a Roughriders defense that aired 315 yards in their Week 2 win over Edmonton.
Lewis caught seven passes for 127 yards, including 39- and 42-yard receptions in the second quarter against the Argos. White Jr. caught six passes for 83 yards.
Thursday night is the second game the Als will have to run back without star William Stanback as he recovers from an ankle injury sustained in Week 1.
In Week 2, it was Jeshrun Antwi who was called up as the main defender for Montreal. He carried the ball 29 yards eight times and saw five goals in the passing game.
Just before Thursday night’s matchup, he will face off against a powerful Saskatchewan defense that surrendered just 47 yards on the ground in their win over the Elks.
Despite losing last week, the Als defense managed to hold off McLeod Bethel-Thompson and Co. on just one touchdown.
Defensive lineman Darius Williams recorded an interception while defensive end Nick Usher and defensive lineman Michael Wakefield pushed through the defensive line for a sack each.
Cornerback Mike Jones was arguably Als’s best player of Week 2. He had turned over an interception in the first quarter, but he proved valuable in covering the entire game against Double Blue. Montreal will certainly be counting on another outstanding display against a versatile Riders offense.
Montreal’s defense must maintain defensive pressure against Riders quarterback Cody Fajardo for 60 minutes. Fajardo has thrown for 558 yards and two touchdowns in two games. It’s early days, but his average 9.6 yards per completion this year is the highest of his career.
Watch the game live here PPV. Saskatchewan Roughriders @ Montreal Alouettes, June 24, 1:30am CET (1:30pm, 7:30pm ET)
In their Week 2 win over Edmonton, Shaq Evans was again Fajardo’s main target, hitting five of his eight goals for 81 yards.
Mitchell Picton and Kian Schaffer-Baker will also provide impressive options that Alsen will need to slow down. Picton contributed to the Riders’ victory in Week 2 with a 28-yard reception for a touchdown. He followed up the touchdown by catching the two-point conversion that followed.
One of the biggest turnarounds from Week 1 to Week 2 for the riders was the success in running Jamal Morrow back on the ground.
Morrow rushed for 126 yards and a touchdown against the Elks after rushing for just 14 yards on nine carries the week before. He also came into the reception game with four catches for 28 yards. He’ll look to bring that momentum into the game against an ALS defensive unit that allowed 107 yards on the ground in Week 2 against Toronto.
The increased workload of having to fill multiple roles for the team doesn’t seem to bother him.
“Whatever the team needs, I’m here for it,” he told riderville.com. “I have no problem making the kick return play and then going in as a running back. As long as we win, that’s all that matters.”
Head coach Craig Dickenson was pleased with the versatility Morrow has brought to the team and looks forward to more of that in the coming weeks. The depth at the location allows the Riders to spread out Morrow.
“Jamal is a good player and he can do a lot of different things,” Dickenson told riderville.com. “We’re glad he’s on our team. We have two good jams, Frankie (Hickson) is good too. We let both play, but we also want to play with the hot hand.”
Ultimately, Morrow’s performance landed him as one of three CFL top performers for Week 2.
On the defensive side of the ball, drivers have held opponents to 29 points and allowed just 71 rush yards in two weeks.
Their three-man linebacker corps of Larry Dean, Darnell Sankey and Derrick Moncrief combined for 15 defensive tackles last week. Dean, Sankey, along with defensemen Garrett Marino, Pete Robertson and Anthony Lanier II all recorded a sack. With 13 sacks in two games for Riders defense, no other team in the league has more than four sacks.
Against the opposing pass game, Moncrief and safety Mike Edem patrolled in the air. Edem and Moncrieff each recorded an interception, bringing Saskatchewan’s total to four and tying the league lead.
The Riders’ defensive unit will be looking to capitalize on an Alouette offense that has conceded six sacks and thrown three interceptions in two games.
However, for the 2-0 drivers ahead of Week 3, if there’s one area for improvement it’s giving up mileage through penalties. They had 14 penalties in Edmonton for a total of 134 yards.
The Als finished 2021 3-4 at home. The drivers have already won once on the road and will try again when they travel to Percival Molson Memorial Stadium on Thursday night.
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