After crushing the B.C. Lions in a 56-18 win in the CFL Eastern Final Sunday, the Montreal Alouettes were quick to point out that they finished the regular season with the best record in the league.
A day later, those same Alouettes assured reporters that that confidence should not be mistaken for cockiness as they prepare for Sunday's Grey Cup game against the Saskatchewan Roughriders in Calgary.
"I don't think we're a cocky team; we never said that, and we've never shown that," quarterback Anthony Calvillo said Monday after a brief team meeting. "We're very confident in our ability to go out there and play, and that's how we're going to approach the game."
Receiver Jamel Richardson, who scored three touchdowns on the B.C. Lions in the East Final, agrees with Calvillo that the team isn't cocky, but he feels the confidence that is oozing out of the team is necessary for success in football.
"You've got to have confidence to play this game, period," Richardson said. "We feel we were 15-3, and we had the best record in the league for a reason. We feel we work harder than everybody else, and we feel like every time we walk out on to that field, we're going to blow the other team out."
Still, if there is one person who can make sure the players never cross that line of over-confidence, it's head coach Marc Trestman. Week after week, as the Alouettes continued dominating their opponents, Trestman would say nothing but good things about the team they just finished dismantling.
"Our coach won't allow us to disrespect an opponent," said running back Avon Cobourne. "He's very anal about us getting too over-confident and disrespecting our opponents. There is a line you can cross, but I don't think we would allow each other to get like that, and I know coach Trestman won't."
Calvillo, receiver Ben Cahoon, centre Bryan Chiu and guard Scott Flory are the four Alouettes players that have been on each of the seven editions of the team to reach the Grey Cup game this decade. That means each of them has a 1-5 record in the big game heading into Sunday, but Chiu says there is something different about this team.
"We're a more complete team than we were in past years," Chiu said. "Our defence is the stingiest in this league, and our offence is going so well right now. There's so much trust in this locker room; we believe in each other. It's definitely a different feeling."
One advantage the Alouettes will definitely hold over the Roughriders is Grey Cup experience, not only in handling the game but also all the distractions that surround the event in the week leading up to it.
"Nothing's new anymore," said guard Paul Lambert, who will be playing in his fifth Grey Cup with Montreal. "You know the routine in and out. You know which days are more hectic than others. You know the media requirements. So, you're just there as a shoulder for the younger guys if they have questions on how to handle the time management aspect of it."
Although everyone on the Alouettes is saying they're not cocky, Richardson couldn't help but show a bit of that extreme confidence when sizing up Sunday's match-up for his offence.
"They've got a good defence over there, but we have a great offence," Richardson said. "So, somebody's got to give, and I feel it's going to be them."