Stampeders have dark horse in Reynolds
When you're dealing with the two best aerial attacks in a pass-first league meeting in a championship game, it can be easy to forget the league's leading rusher is playing as well.
Calgary Stampeders running back Joffrey Reynolds has no problem with that.
In fact, his teammates will tell you he prefers it that way.
"If you ask Joffrey, he'll tell you it's fair, he wants to be that dark horse that comes in and steals the show," Stamps quarterback Henry Burris said Thursday during Calgary's media lunch.
"Joffrey loves being the dark horse, and as long as he likes it, I'll leave him there. But he'll definitely be a guy who's going to make big plays and allow us to be successful in the game."
Calgary right tackle Jeff Pilon says off-field praise is not something Reynolds actively seeks or needs because, but come game time, that's when he wants the attention to be on him.
"We have a lot of great talent on this team, but these guys aren't 'me' guys. They're about the team and giving it what it needs," Pilon said. "That's Joffrey, he doesn't really care about the attention.
"He's a real quiet guy. He just wants the ball in his hands."
Reynolds says it's not surprising that a lot of the attention goes to Burris and his receivers considering the season they've had, but his wasn't too shabby either with 1,310 yards on the ground and 12 touchdowns.
In his fifth CFL season, Reynolds put up his fourth straight 1,000-yard campaign and was named a league all-star for a third time.
The Montreal Alouettes can expect to see a lot of Reynolds running the ball down their throats in the Grey Cup on Sunday.
The Edmonton Eskimos only ran the ball three times against the Alouettes in the East Division final, a total Reynolds should pass within Calgary's first two possessions.
"God, I hope so," he said laughing. "I don't know what Edmonton's game plan was, but that's really not a good recipe for winning for any team because you don't want to become one-dimensional.
"Montreal has a good defence, and they try to make you one-dimensional. The big thing for us is, if they try to make us one dimensional, we're going to have make plays to make them respect the pass and, hopefully, we can come up with a balanced attack."
This is Reynolds's first Grey Cup game, but he says any nerves he may have had were washed away when the Stampeders stopped a string of three straight playoff defeats with a 22-18 win over the British Columbia Lions in the West Division final last Saturday.
So there isn't much danger of Reynolds being over-pumped on Sunday.
"If you'd have asked me last week, that would have been more of a factor," he said. "Without us having won a playoff game in a while, not having been in a Western final at home in a while, that was definitely overwhelming.
"I'm not saying the Grey Cup isn't, but that was a big pressure situation from our end last week."
'It's like a chess game'
Reynolds had some success in Calgary's two wins this year against the Alouettes, racking up 167 yards on 29 carries, matching his 5.8 yard per carry average on the season.
But the second-ranked Montreal run defence will not only have Reynolds to contend with, as Burris had a field day on the ground against the Alouettes in their previous two meetings, with 128 yards on 15 carries.
Burris said his ability to get outside on a quick defence like Montreal's stems directly from Reynolds's ability to keep guys honest.
"It's like a chess game," Burris said. "If they're keeping contain[ment] on me, that means there's one more running lane for Joffrey to take advantage of.
"When you have a guy that's put up 1,300 yards rushing, that poses a lot of different threats for a defence. You've got to take something away, but you've got to give something."
Calgary head coach John Hufnagel is not putting too much stock into his team's performance in those first two meetings with the Alouettes.
He feels the Stampeders will need to be creative in order to ensure the ground attack remains effective.
"They've done a great job in the latter part of the year," Hufnagel said. "Their run defence got better as the year went on and their ability to contain the quarterback got better.
"They were able to stop Edmonton for a reason. It's going to be a big test for us to accomplish what we want to accomplish, which is to be productive running the football."