B.C. Lions quarterback Dave Dickenson fires a pass against the Montreal Alouettes during CFL regular-season action on Sept. 1. The two teams will meet again in the 94th Grey Cup on Nov. 19 in Winnipeg. (Ryan Remiorz/Canadian Press)
Grey Cup final preview
The best of the East and West battle for Lord Earl Grey's mug on Nov. 19 in Winnipeg. It all comes down to one game. CFL on CBC analysts Darren Flutie and Greg Frers break down each team and give their predictions.
Last Updated Nov. 16, 2006
Flutie: B.C. represents a lot of challenges. With [all-star defensive end] Brent Johnson and the pressure the Lions bring, Montreal is absolutely going to struggle with that. The challenge will be for the tackles, Luke Fritz and Uzooma Okeke. They might need to bring a slotback [near the line of scrimmage] to help out. There will also be a challenge to establish the run. Teams usually don't run the ball well against B.C. But if the Alouettes can keep them guessing and [running back] Robert Edwards can get 75 to 100 yards and 15 carries, that's effective running.
[Quarterback] Anthony Calvillo came in with good schemes against Toronto [in the East final] and that's a tough team to throw against [like B.C.]. Calvillo will have to find [a favourable] matchup with [wide receiver] Kerry Watkins and [slotback] Ben Cahoon. Those guys will have to move around and get the one-on-one situations. Calvillo is good at recognizing where he can get a one-on-one and takes advantage.
Impact player: Calvillo. He'll have to continue to be patient the way he was against Toronto. He's going to have to throw well. He had a real game plan going into the Argos game and used his eyes real well. He'll have to do that against the Lions, too. Maybe drop right and move the defence and throw back left.
Frers: The biggest thing about B.C.'s offence is their great depth at quarterback. You had an injured Dave Dickenson and Buck Pierce came in and played outstanding. Now, Dave is 100 per cent healthy and did exactly what Dave Dickenson does, which is being one of the top calibre quarterbacks in the CFL. He showed that against the Saskatchewan Roughriders, one of the most dominant defences in the league. He never lost control of that football game, throwing 27 completions of 37 attempts.
Dickenson has the ability to look downfield and make appropriate reads and he's dissecting the game. He didn't rely on one receiver - he went to six different receivers throughout the course of the game [against Saskatchewan].
The rushing totals for Joe Smith last week shows that the offensive line was doing a great job. [Fred] Perry and [Terrell] Jurineack were the best tandem rush ends in the CFL with 23 sacks and you didn't hear their names at all during last week's game. That means [B.C.'s] Rob Murphy and Jason Jimenez dominated off the edges.
That line and Dan Dorazio as the O-line coach did a fantastic job against what was supposed to be the most dominant defensive line in the CFL. … [Dickenson] has got tremendous confidence in that offensive line.
Impact player: Dickenson. This is the healthiest he's been in a playoff game in his entire career. He's the best quarterback that's never won a Grey Cup right now. If [B.C.'s offensive line] are able to have that kind of performance against the Montreal Alouettes [as they did against Saskatchewan], then in my opinion, Dave is unstoppable. He's so accurate and smart in understanding what's going on in the field and he's dangerous if he's got that kind of time and comfort.
Flutie: [Linebackers] Tim Strickland and Duane Butler will be the key, as will [tackles] Adriano Belli and Ed Philion on the defensive line. But they'll have their work cut out for them in the secondary. It will be a huge task to stop [league-leading receiver] Geroy Simon, Paris Jackson and Jason Clermont. I don't know if they can do it. If [quarterback] Dave Dickenson gets time [to throw the ball] these guys are going to kill [the Alouettes].
Impact player: Strickland and Butler by bringing pressure, getting into [pass] coverage, getting an interception or getting a fumble. They continue to be Montreal's high-energy guys. The motor's on full every play. They're getting big hits, causing havoc. They're either blitzing or a key part of the coverage – Butler on the right side and Strickland on the left.
Frers: B.C. has a lot of speed and lot of interchangeable parts. What I mean by that is a guy like Brent Johnson could drop off in coverage, a guy like Aaron Hunt could drop off in coverage. Otis Floyd and Javier Glatt can play multiple positions and they also have [Carl] Kidd and Jamal Johnson has come on … The Lions have halfbacks that can come off and blitz. There's so much speed and pressure from so many different directions, which makes it very difficult for an offensive line to maximize protection for their quarterback.
The Lions burned Montreal's offensive line so bad in that last game [a 36-20 victory on Sept. 16] counting 12 sacks – 11 versus Anthony Calvillo. They are very sound athletes. Defensive linemen could be switched into coverage, for example. Basically, they're very unpredictable.
Impact player: Brent Johnson as a defensive lineman, but all of those four guys are fantastic. I think Otis Floyd is a fantastic player, an all-star. And in the secondary, Barron Miles in that free safety position is obviously an impact player. He's also the coach on the field who makes sure everyone is on the same page. Miles anticipates so well and gets into the minds of quarterbacks.
Montreal Special Teams
Flutie: [Kick-returner] Avon Cobourne did well against Toronto [combined 140 yards on kickoffs and punts] but I don't think anything he does will change the game. [Kicker] Damon Duval has been great [4-for-4 on field goals versus the Argos]. That [44-yard] field goal he nailed was no chip shot and there was still [51 seconds] left in the fourth quarter [with Montreal leading 33-24]. He's a clutch guy.
Impact player: Duval. He understands the situation and doesn't get nervous about those late-game kicks. He doesn't choke.
B.C. Special Teams
Frers: I think they've improved with Ian Smart, who really set the tone with that 48-yard kickoff return to start the game last week. They've also blocked a punt in each of their last three regular season games. Montreal has blocked two – Chip Cox has blocked two -so both teams can put pressure on kickers, so they'll have to get the ball off quick.
In the prairies, the wind may be blowing. It's going to be cold, it's going to be windy and field position in a highly intense Grey Cup game is paramount. The coverage teams from B.C. have got to be good simply because they haven't been that great over the last four weeks of the season.
Impact player: Paul McCallum. The monkey's off his back. He was 5-for-5 last week, tied Lui Passaglia for point scored in a playoff game with 19. It would be great for all the fans if it came down to a last-second field goal.
What are the keys to victory for Montreal?
Flutie: They have to get pressure on the quarterback, and by that I mean their helmets. When [Lions quarterback Dave Dickenson] is healthy, he's as good as it gets in the CFL. You're not going to control a guy like that. You have to get helmets on him. That doesn't necessarily mean a sack, but hit him early [in the game] and when he's about to release the ball, so you get him thinking. Montreal also has to run the ball effectively. The guys up front [on the offensive line] know they can run the ball and it'll make everything easier with the passing game if they can.
What are the keys to victory for B.C.?
Frers: Their offensive line has to be great and they have to protect for Dave Dickenson. The Lions defence also has to bring pressure on Anthony Calvillo. B.C. will be good against Robert Edwards. A lot has been said about Edwards and what he rushed for last week, but that was against the Toronto Argonauts. Ask any football player, particularly defensively, what they need to do to win and they'll say if you can put pressure on the opposing quarterback and render him ineffective then you win the football game.
Flutie: B.C. will win 34-20. I don't think Montreal will run as well as they did against the Argos [in the East final]. Even if B.C. struggles offensively early on, they'll eventually get going. They're steady, steady, steady and will keep coming at you. There is so much the Lions can do with Dickenson and his receivers that they don't have to count on [running back] Joe Smith getting 100 to 150 yards rushing a game.
Frers: I'm going to go with B.C. It's 60 minutes of football and anything can happen – that's very true. And yet, I don't see B.C. letting up and filling their heads. Over the last month of the regular season they didn't really play a meaningful game, meaningful being that it impacted where they were going to end up in the standings. They had that level of intensity through those games. They are definitely all about business and they've got the talent. It's going to be a lot closer than people think, probably similar to the second time these two teams played this season [a 36-20 Lions victory on Sept. 16].
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