Big Blue ready to get down to business



HAMILTON — The only game being played at Tim Hortons Field on Saturday was the waiting game.

Both the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and Hamilton Tiger-Cats held their walkthroughs and went over their plan of attack one final time.

If they could’ve hit a fast-forward button to Sunday, they certainly would have.”On a personal level, I caught myself just wanting the game to show — wanting to be here, wanting to be here — and you still have a lot of time and if you let that time go by without doing a few of the things that you should do, you’re missing out on opportunities,” said Bombers head coach Mike O’Shea on Saturday.

“Whether that’s clearing your head, talking to family, getting a good bite to eat, watching more film, talking to your teammates — all the things that you can do in that time frame you need to do. That’s part of the process, right?” Players appeared to be loose, like they usually are at the final practice of the week, but at the same time, the vibe was definitely more serious. There wasn’t as much horsing around and some players, such as wide receiver Kenny Lawler and defensive end Jonathan Kongbo, could be seen taking a few minutes to walk around the field by themselves to soak it all in and envision the plays that they hope to make on Sunday.

“When it’s time to lock in and be focused, we’re strictly business. There’s no laughing and joking around,” said defensive end Willie Jefferson.

“But it’s like a switch gets flipped as soon as the meetings and things are over. As soon as you step outside the stadium, it’s all laughs, jokes, guys playing music, hanging out with one another. That’s something coach O’Shea wanted us to do more this year than we did in 2019. He wanted us to be more together as a team, he wanted us to connect with one another, not as players, but as friends outside of the football aspect. That’s something we’ve done a little bit more this year and I’m happy that we have.”The Bombers have already accomplished a lot this year and that was solidified on Friday night when they swept the CFL’s Award show.

Most Outstanding Player: Zach Collaros. Most Outstanding Defensive Player: Adam Bighill. Most Outstanding Offensive Lineman: Stanley Bryant. Coach of the Year: Mike O’Shea.

That doesn’t guarantee a thing, just ask the Tiger-Cats who had four award winners in 2019 and went on to get shellacked by the Bombers in the Grey Cup.

“We just do a great job of focusing on the day-to-day and the task at hand,” said offensive lineman Pat Neufeld. “We’re extremely happy for our teammates who won those awards and they’re well-deserved. But for today, we’re focusing on a game and what happened yesterday or any time before that is in the past. It’s that kind of mindset for us.”

The 2019 Grey Cup got out of hand rather quickly with Ticats pivot Dane Evans turning the ball over on four occasions and getting sacked six times in a 33-12 defeat. The rematch in Week 1 of the regular season, which featured Jeremiah Masoli behind centre for the Tabbies, wasn’t much better for Hamilton with Winnipeg winning 19-6 at IG Field.”It’s two great teams, both a lot different than when we played in Week 1,” Collaros said.

“Both are greatly improved. Two great organizations going at it. I’m really happy for the league, really happy for the country, having a year off and being able to pull this off this year, it’s been an amazing season. And it’s going to be a lot of fun to play on Sunday.”

O’SHEA UNDEFEATED AT GREY CUP

Mike O’Shea is a perfect 5-0 at the Grey Cup.

He’s 3-0 as a player, 1-0 as an assistant coach, and 1-0 as a head coach.

“I’m honestly not surprised, to be honest with you. Besides being a great friend, he’s a great coach,” said Tiger-Cats head coach Orlondo Steinauer on O’Shea’s career record in the big game.

“I’ve been around him, like I know, so I’m not surprised at all. I wasn’t aware of that, but definitely not surprised.”

EVANS TO PLAY THE FULL GAME?

Dane Evans will start the Grey Cup, but will he end it?

Jeremiah Masoli started the East Division final in Toronto last week and got off to a slow start, leading to Steinauer benching him for Evans. Evans went on to complete all 16 of his passing attempts to lead the Ticats to a 27-19 victory.

Steinauer was asked how long of a leash will be given to Evans if the team doesn’t come out of the gate rolling on all cylinders.

“Fair question, and I don’t have the answer. Dane will start the game for us… Every football team in this league kind of hold their breath if their starter gets hurt and we’re not in that situation. If everything goes according to plan, you’d assume Dane won’t come out, right? So, there is no leash. It’s the same as in Toronto. There was no plan for Jeremiah to come out. It was a gut feeling.”

taylor.allen@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @TaylorAllen31

Taylor Allen

Taylor Allen
Reporter

Eighteen years old and still in high school, Taylor got his start with the Free Press on June 1, 2011. Well, sort of.

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