Bombers ready to duke it out with Elks… ‘free’ Collaros has trust in Buck, and vice-versa… who’ll play longer: Bighill or Brady?

Article content

If you look just at the standings, Friday’s tilt at the stadium is a mismatch of gargantuan proportions: the 7-1 Blue Bombers against the reeling, 2-5 Edmonton Elks.

Advertisement

Story continues below

Article content

But the Elks will have at least one thing going for them in the return of quarterback Trevor Harris.
Coming off a loss to East Division basement-dwelling Ottawa, their third straight defeat, the visitors are in desperation mode, too.

“Sitting where we’re at, we understand that everybody’s going to be up to play us,” Winnipeg secondary coach Jordan Younger said, Wednesday. “So that’s Part 1. Part 2 is understanding that early in the game we don’t want to give them any hope. Don’t let them create their own momentum or energy, especially here at home. We want the crowd in it.

“Make them duke it out for 60 plays or whatever, I feel every team in the league will have a hard time sticking with us.”

After missing two games with a neck injury, Harris gives the Bomber defence plenty to think about.

Advertisement

Story continues below

Article content

Because of the way he thinks.

“You can tell he spends a lot of time studying his opponents, the contour of defences, the way people move, so he has an idea of what coverages they’re playing,” Younger said. “And that’s how he’s able to get rid of the ball so quickly. The ability to get rid of the ball quickly is what makes him special.”

The Bombers will study what their own defence has looked like on film the last couple of games, and change or disguise a few things.

“You want to throw a few new wrinkles, some things he hasn’t seen on film, give him something else to think about while he’s in his drops,” Younger said. “At the professional level, you have to be able to shoot at the same target multiple ways.”

That means changing the timing, the angles, even the responsibilities of players in coverage.

Advertisement

Story continues below

Article content

“You need intelligent players,” Younger said. “Players who are invested and willing to do the work to understand the system.”

That means going beyond the four-and-a-half-hour work days the CFL allows for coaches and players to interact.

The Bombers lean heavily on veteran safety Brandon Alexander to lead the way.

“In order to play at a high level consistently, you have to have guys that are willing to invest more time on their own,” Younger said. “You need to have guys that understand what to do with that time. Brandon Alexander is a substitute teacher. So he understands how to put a lesson plan together. That kind of knowledge and wisdom makes those sessions that he organizes very efficient. Because he understands how to teach.”

Advertisement

Story continues below

Article content

Quarterback Zach Collaros tosses the ball during Blue Bombers practice on the University of Manitoba earlier this week.
Quarterback Zach Collaros tosses the ball during Blue Bombers practice on the University of Manitoba earlier this week. Photo by Kevin King /Winnipeg Sun

Mutual admiration

The last two days have seen offensive coordinator Buck Pierce and quarterback Zach Collaros exchange plaudits like they were tossing a football back and forth.

Coming off a 500-yard plus offensive showing against the Lions in B.C., there’s plenty of credit to go around.

“Free is a good word,” Pierce said, describing the way Collaros is playing. “Confident is also a way to describe Zach. When you hear people say the quarterback is really seeing it well, that’s a mixture of his preparation, his film study … and also it’s a trust factor that he’s continuing to develop with myself and the coaches and the offensive line and everybody that’s part of this offence. He’s a competitive guy and he’s working extremely hard.

Advertisement

Story continues below

Article content

“Zach’s executing at a very high level.”

Over to you, Mr. Collaros.

“He’s my play-caller. He’s my elder. Of course I’m going to say he’s done a good job,” the quarterback said. “He had a real good feel for what B.C. wanted to do the other night. And he gave us an opportunity on the outside to make some plays. He told us that going into the game.”

While he passed for 400 yards for the first time as a Bomber, Collaros says this team is not changing its offensive identity.

“We still probably run the ball more than any team in the CFL,” he said. “That’s part of Buck’s DNA. He wants to really lean on the other team early on and into the fourth quarter.”

Audibles rare

The next time you see Collaros with a longer-than-normal call at the line of scrimmage, it doesn’t mean he’s changing the play call.

Advertisement

Story continues below

Article content

“I don’t know in the CFL how much you’re actually changing plays at the line of scrimmage,” Pierce said. “We have certain checks and certain things… but to be able to change a whole play with the 20-second play clock in the CFL and how it is with motion and those things, it doesn’t happen as often as some might think.”

Aging like fine wine

Somebody asked linebacker Adam Bighill, given the sparkling season he’s turning in at age (soon to be) 33, if he wants to play as long as NFL quarterback Tom Brady.

“Tom Brady’s what, 44? My body feels as good as it ever as,” Bighill said. “The strongest and fastest and most athletic as I’ve ever been. As long as I’m willing to put in the work to do that and compete at a high level, I feel like I can play this game as long as I want to. We’ll see where that takes me.

“But yeah, I’m feeling very competitive and I’m feeling very dangerous, so I just want to keep playing.”

pfriesen@postmedia.com

Twitter: @friesensunmedia

Advertisement

Story continues below

Comments

Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion and encourage all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments may take up to an hour for moderation before appearing on the site. We ask you to keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications—you will now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, there is an update to a comment thread you follow or if a user you follow comments. Visit our Community Guidelines for more information and details on how to adjust your email settings.

View original article here Source