It just keeps getting better and better. My statement is in reference to Blue Bombers quarterback Drew Willy and his pressure performance in Winnipeg's 27-26 win over Hamilton. His game was good - 31 out of 43 completions - but it was the last drive that was so impressive. With 1:40 to go, he moved the ball 94 yards, completing 7 of 9 passes for 79 yards and running for another 15; every yard had something to do with Drew Willy.
So as much as it is time to recognize the performance, it is also good to recognize the support behind the performance on two levels. First Marcel Bellefeuille as an offensive coordinator has excelled at teaching the foundation and developing the game plan for Willy. Also, there's Buck Pierce. Listed as running backs coach you know he must have a calming influence on the present quarterback. Pierce as a former player has pretty much experienced everything you can as a player, both good and bad, and that experience is very valuable to a player like Drew Willy who is going through that process right now. It's been mainly good for him, but you know the bad is coming.
The game itself was a battle of the punters in the first half and an exchange of big play makers in the second. And that half was the only good half for Hamilton. To say that Dan LeFevour was humbled a bit is accurate as Winnipeg did an exceptional job of running, chasing and catching a quarterback who had over 100 yards rushing the previous week. One bright moment for Hamilton was the punt return for a touchdown by Quincy McDuffie - at 5'10" and 178 lbs he has an elusiveness that makes him special. Whomever found him deserves a pat on the back because I think the young man can play and produce. Yes, the Ticats had one and gave one away on the last play but what can you do? Only "man up" as players, learn from the mistakes and move on to play the BC Lions on Friday night. Don't over-analyze or criticize, just learn and move on.
In Montreal I just don't get it. Yes they have some serious quarterback problems and some absence of confidence in both pivots. Throwing accuracy is the No. 1 problem but how do you improve upon that when you can play consistently as an opportunity to improve? Troy Smith started out the game and ran 13 plays. Then Alex Brink came in and ran 15 plays. Back to Smith and eight more plays and to conclude the game Brink ran 18 plays. That is the type of rotation you use in an exhibition game if you want to evaluate four separate quarterbacks. It's not what you do in Week 6 when you need to commit to one QB until you conclude that one can or cannot do the job. For Toronto the best running back they have is Steve Slaton. That is the guy I would make my starter.
Watching the second game on Friday night, you have to wonder what type of team the BC Lions will be from week to week. Kevin Glenn showed remarkable resiliency in going 3-for-3 to win it in the end but when Travis Lulay is back it will be his team. The early performance by Andrew Harris this season has been enjoyable to watch. IF, and I know it is a big IF, he keeps this pace up Harris is on pace for 1,000 rushing yards and 1,000 receiving yards. Easy to say, tough to do.
Finally, Saturday night in Ottawa and you could see it coming. Every team at some point of the year has a game that starts bad, gets out of control and in the game film afterward you remember it but don't let it get you down. On Saturday night the Redblacks looked like an expansion team for the first time this year. They have pieces but not the parts just yet. Rick Campbell has assembled a good CFL staff and they should be confronted with the mistakes made to make sure they don't happen again. This one has to be an education that provides future results as Ottawa looked like a collection of players, as opposed to a team of performers.
With Saskatchewan this thought popped into my head at halftime. Someone should give George Cortez another shot as a head coach. For whatever the reason and it's insignificant now, George did not endear himself with many in Hamilton when he was a head coach there. Why, who knows? But the second time around you learn and adapt with flexibility. His success with quarterbacks and QB systems is undisputed and like John Hufnagle his overall experience is this league is an asset of extreme benefit. I don't know if the next young talent is out there but a slightly older one is Cortez. The Riders had intense focus in Ottawa and just like Cory Chamblin said after the crushing 48-15 defeat in Toronto during Week 2, "we will learn from this" - and they did.
For the future? Saskatchewan at Winnipeg is the best game in the seventh week with only 13 to go.
And a final thought after the final note. My congratulations and sincere thanks to the people in Calgary. An all-time record was set in the Purolator Tackle Hunger food donation with 258,000 lbs of food brought to the stadium in one night. I an trying to visualize what that looks like and I can't. That type of response says in loud volume the compassion and strength of the people in Alberta and in the city of Calgary. And I'm not comparing to any other cities, just acknowledging a great moment to help others. Oh, and Edmonton: your day is Friday, September 26. Just a reminder.