The Blue Bombers have been playing with fire all season, but somehow they still haven’t been burned.
The team’s kicking woes continue as Ali Mourtada had a horrendous performance Friday night at IG Field going 1-for-4 on field-goal attempts against the Edmonton Elks.
In what has been a common occurrence this season, the Blue and Gold (8-1) didn’t let missed kicks stop them from getting a win as they handed the Elks (2-6) a 30-3 defeat.
No matter the end result, it was obvious on this night Mourtada shouldn’t be the heir to Justin Medlock’s throne. Mourtada’s misses were from 41, 47, and 46 yards out. His lone make was a gimme from 24-yards away. Mourtada also missed a convert in the fourth quarter which led to the boo birds in the stands coming out in full force.
“Stretching,” wrote former Bombers kicker Troy Westwood on Twitter last night.
In four games as Winnipeg’s placekicker, Mourtada is 4-for-11 and his longest successful kick has been a 29-yarder. Before Mourtada’s CFL debut back in Week 7 in Edmonton — where he went 0-for-3 in a 37-22 win at Commonwealth Stadium — the 31-year-old from Foxborough, Mass., told reporters he felt confident kicking from 60-63 yards out under ideal kicking conditions.
It was calm at IG Field, as the wind was blowing at 8 km/h.
“Well, he would say the same thing, it’s not the way he’d like it to go either. We’ll just continue to keep working,” said O’Shea.
But will Mourtada be the kicker next week in Edmonton when the Bombers meet the Elks again?
“We just won 30-3. Let’s focus on the positive things that came out of this game,” O’Shea said.
Before Mourtada came to town, Canadians Tyler Crapigna and Marc Liegghio took stabs at the job. Crapigna went 3-for-5 before getting sidelined with a hamstring injury. O’Shea recently said there’s no guarantee Crapigna will be back this season. Liegghio, a rookie who still handles the punting duties, was 5-for-8 before Mourtada was brought in to replace him.
Add it up and the Bombers are kicking like a high school team — 12-for-24 on field goals on the year.
“I do believe that our guys understand three-phase football and they understand that if a phase or if a portion of a phase might not be going, that they’re going to do what they can to make sure they pick it up and pull their weight until that phase gets on track,” O’Shea said.
“We also had a blocked punt tonight which is a big special teams play that put us in a good position. Our guys understand they need to all pull their weight and if something’s not looking exactly right, they’re gonna make sure they work well for their teammates.”
The Mourtada signing was a head scratcher from the beginning. The team definitely needed to make an upgrade at the position, but nothing on his resume made it appear like he was going to be the solution.
He attended Pace University between 2008-2011 — a Div. II program in New York city — where he made only seven of 15 kicks in his final two years. He’s been fighting to make it in the pros ever since as he played a bit in the Arena Football League, tried out for the Cleveland Browns and Washington Football Team, and had several XFL tryouts. Mourtada’s most notable stop was the Indoor Football League (IFL) with the Massachusetts Pirates, where he connected on seven of 17 field-goal attempts earlier this year. The goal posts are half as wide in indoor football, but Mourtada has no excuse for his poor CFL numbers.
The first-place Bombers also have no excuse to not find a better option than Mourtada, especially with the playoffs right around the corner.
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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