Bombers, Alouettes familiar foes with championship on the line
Willie Jefferson believes the Winnipeg Blue Bombers’ defensive front can win Sunday’s Grey Cup game in the first quarter.
It’s all about getting in the head of Alouettes quarterback Cody Fajardo as quickly as possible when Winnipeg meets Montreal for the CFL championship on Sunday at Tim Hortons Field.
“Soon as the defence hits the field, we have the opportunity to set the tone for the game,” Jefferson, a defensive end, said on the eve of the game. “Winning on first down, stopping the run, getting to Cody, make him have a rough day, not letting him out of the pocket or extend plays with his legs ... If we can eliminate that, then we’ll have a good opportunity to have a good game.”
The Bombers defence excelled all season, allowing a league-low 377 points (20.9 per game), 35 touchdowns and an average of 298.8 yards of offence. Rushing the passer is their specialty. They tied a CFL playoff record with nine sacks in a 24-13 win over the B.C. Lions in the West Division final, and piled up 53 sacks in the regular season.
Jefferson said the athleticism of backup quarterback Dakota Prukop and preparation of the scout team helped the Bombers simulate the playing style of B.C. quarterback Vernon Adams Jr.
“It was the same way this week,” said Jefferson. “We know Cody’s m.o., we know he likes to extend plays when he can, we know he likes to step up in the pocket and try to throw the ball deep, we know quarterback draw, we know he likes to spin out and things like that ... Whatever we get in the game, it won’t be new to us.”
The Alouettes, for their part, have struggled to protect the passer, allowing the second-most sacks (61) in the regular season, and seven in their East final win over the Argonauts. Fajardo has been sacked 112 times over the past two seasons.
“He still does Cody Fajardo things,” said Jefferson, “like throwing the ball and falling to the ground, backing up, tripping on his feet, ducking when he feels pressure and stuff like that. As long as we can get to him early and make him feel our presence, make him touch that ground a couple of times in the first quarter, we’ll have a good day.”
Alouettes head coach Jason Maas said Fajardo and Montreal’s offence are well aware of the threat Jefferson poses: “It comes down to an awareness factor of where he is and what he can do. Then from there, you’ve got to play football and got to be confident.”
On the injury front, the Bombers listed linebacker Adam Bighill (foot) and receiver Dalton Schoen (ankle) as game-time decisions.
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