OTTAWA – Moral victories won’t help the Ottawa Redblacks in the standings.
After dropping a 19-17 loss to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers on a last-minute field goal in their season opener last week, the Redblacks are hoping for a different result when they host the two-time defending Grey Cup champions for a rematch on Friday.
Ottawa did a lot of good things last week against the Bombers but fell just short. Preparing for Winnipeg in a back-to-back situation presents a different challenge.
“It’s interesting, you’ve got to figure out what they’re going to do differently is the first thing we’ve got to figure out and then adapt and see what happens,” said Redblacks head coach Paul LaPolice. “The other thing is like, you do a lot of good things you don’t want to change too many things either of which you did well, so it’s an interesting chess match the back the backs.”
Home has not been kind to the Redblacks. They’ve posted just one win at TD Place Stadium in each of their last two seasons.
“If you want to win your division you better win at home is something our general manager said early in training camp,” LaPolice said. “If we want to make sure we’re in the heat of things you want to win your home games.”
Ottawa held Winnipeg to just 239 passing yards and 50 yards rushing, but left points on the field.
Jeremiah Masoli looked solid in his Redblacks debut, going 24 for 34 for 380 yards. It was an impressive outing considering he’s working with a new team and a new offence.
“We’ve just been putting the work in,” Masoli said. “No secret to the recipe. Guys have been staying after, doing extra things to make sure we’re on the same page and I just expect us to keep going.”
Masoli took an advantage of his familiarity with receiver Jaelon Acklin from their days with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. Acklin set a career high with 143 receiving yards to lead all CFL receivers in Week 1.
With Justin Howell on the six-game injured list, rookie Alonzo Addae will start at safety for the Redblacks. The 24-year-old is a 2021 second-round draft pick who has impressed early on. He was third on the Redblacks depth chart for the season opener and moved ahead of veteran Antoine Pruneau.
Addae got playing time last week, He said he benefitted from the experience and feels there’s a huge difference from when he came in for training camp.
“Definitely more confident,” Addae said. “The first day out here I was getting adjusted to the 12-man game and being a sponge and soaking up the playbook as much as I can.
“Now I have a full grasp of the playbook and also been in the film room learning the game, the ins and outs and surrounding myself with great veteran players that have passed the knowledge down to me.”
Last season the Bombers had just three losses and two came on the road on the back end of a home-and-home series.
Ottawa remains without running back William Powell (Achilles).
Brendan Gillanders and Jackson Bennett are on the one-game injured list leaving Ottawa with no backup for RB Devonte Williams. LaPolice said backup fullback Anthony Gosselin could fill in if necessary.
Blue Bombers linebacker Jesse Briggs is listed as out for the game.
WINNIPEG (1-0-0) AT OTTAWA (0-1-0)
Friday, TD Place Stadium
HOME SWEET HOME: The Redblacks are 4-1-2 in home openers since they joined the league in 2014, however home hasn’t been that sweet of late as Ottawa will be looking to change a 1-14 record in their last 15 home games at TD Place.
JUST KICK IT: Lewis Ward made all three of his field goal attempts last week raising his career mark to 90.1 per cent (127-of-141).
THREE IS ENOUGH: The Blue Bombers are riding a three-game winning streak over the Redblacks dating back to July 5, 2019.