There’s no quarterback controversy in Montreal, at least not this week.
Veteran Trevor Harris will start Thursday night when Montreal hosts the Saskatchewan Roughriders in its home opener. Incumbent Vernon Adams Jr., who Harris replaced in the first half of last week’s 20-19 road loss to the Toronto Argonauts, had a positiveCOVID-19 test and won’t dress.
Harris was 18-of-30 passing for 270 yards with an interception versus Toronto while rushing three times for 20 yards. Harris drove the Alouettes 63 yards on 10 plays – including a clutch 25-yard completion to Eugene Lewis on a third-and-10 gamble – but David Cote missed a 21-yard field goal with 11 seconds remaining.
However, it’s been that kind of start for Montreal (0-2), which opened with a 30-27 defeat in Calgary despite taking a 24-10 halftime advantage. The Alouettes also lost running back William Stanback, last year’s CFL rushing leader, to an ankle injury that required surgery.
Receivers Eugene Lewis and Reggie White Jr., though, continue to shine. Lewis has surpassed the 100-yard mark in both of Montreal’s games and has 11 receptions for a league-high 239 yards (21.7-yard average) while White Jr. has 10 catches for 134 yards.
And Jeshrun Antwi stands second in CFL rushing with 127 yards on 15 carries (8.5-yard average). But none of the three has scored a touchdown thus far.
Saskatchewan (2-0) certainly presents a solid challenge for the Alouettes.
The Riders’ defence is first in the CFL in sacks (13), fumbles recovered (four) and forced turnovers (10) and tied for first in fewest offensive points allowed (14.5 per game). Ten different players have registered sacks while Montreal has allowed six sacks through two games.
Saskatchewan’s offence is second overall in both time of possession (33 minutes, 32 seconds) and rushing (129.5 yards per game).
Quarterback Cody Fajardo has completed 42-of-58 passes (72.4 percent) for 558 yards with two TDs and no interceptions while Jamal Morrow has run for a CFL-best 140 yards on 26 carries (5.4-yard average) and a touchdown. Shaq Evans is the club’s top receiver with nine catches for 173 yards (19.2-yard average).
However, the Riders had to outscore Edmonton 14-3 in the fourth quarter last week to secure the 26-16 road victory. Morrow had 126 yards rushing and a touchdown as Saskatchewan ran for 184 yards overall against the Elks.
Harris and Co. must not only be clean against the Riders’ defence but also not be forced to play catchup. So Montreal will have to get Saskatchewan’s offence off the field and not allow it to control the clock.