There were no obvious first-game jitters from Dan Hawkins in the Alouettes 38-33 win on Winnipeg on Thursday. However, it wasn't the smoothest debut as there are still a couple of things to work on. But in the end, a close road victory is the same value as a home blow-out win.
At least Hawkins had fun in his professional coaching debut.
"There are a lot of games that are going to be close, so you kind of know it's going to be like that, that's what makes it fun," said Hawkins.
Fun it was. The Alouettes started strong with a Geoff Tisdale interception on the Bombers first offensive play at Investors Group Field. This led to a Chris Jennings TD and then, on Winnipeg's first punt of the game, Tyrone Carrier took it to the house. Winnipeg bounced back nicely for their fans but in the end, Montreal's offence got back on track by the fourth quarter when Calvillo finally found the end zone with a 42-yard strike to S.J. Green.
Here are some of my observations from Week 1 for the Alouettes.
Dan Hawkins: Seemed to have an early grasp on the CFL game. He managed the clock well, conceded safeties when needed and procedure calls were minimal.
S.J. Green: Came up big when needed. In a receiving corps full of stars, he caught the game-breaking touchdown and was the most reliable of the bunch on the night.
Geoff Tisdale: I felt he was involved, he did get hit up on the Clarence Denmark TD but it was tight coverage. His early interception did help the Alouettes set the tone for the first half.
Tyrone Carrier and Noel Devine: You can already sense a jump in the Alouettes special teams game as both have dynamic speed. Devine also brought a certain punch to the Als offence when needed.
Other Notable Positives: Kyries Hebert, Mike Edem, Sean Whyte.
Pass Protection: The same issue the Alouettes had last season once Brandon Whitaker went down to injury. It is never good when a 40-year-old QB gets sacked five times in a game.
Special teams coverage: This will take time with a brand new coaching staff but the Als saw too many TDs returned against them last season so adjustments will need to be made to solve an early problem.
Jamel Richardson: After a sub-par season in 2012, you'd expect a few mistakes early in the season but it looked just like last season.
Other Notable Negatives: Luc Brodeur-Jourdain, Chris Jennings
On the injury front, the main concern was Anthony Calvillo's throwing hand as halfway through the game, he was wincing after hitting it on a helmet. He didn't miss a snap so the worries were put to rest quickly. Calvillo started strong, struggled a little in the third quarter but came out firing in the fourth after trying to rally the troops with some rarely shown emotion after a Chris Jennings drop.
All in all, Montreal picked up a road win to start the season, which is never easy. They get to do it all over against Winnipeg next Thursday in Montreal. Expect Winnipeg to make some adjustments and hope Montreal makes some of their own, too.
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