MONTREAL — Roughriders head coach Ken Miller doesn’t believe in using past losses to motivate his troops, and says his players feel the same way.
But heading into tonight’s visit to the league-leading Montreal Alouettes, some of those Saskatchewan players will indeed be looking for a bit of revenge.
The Alouettes (6-1) walked into Mosaic Stadium on July 18 and laid a 43-10 thumping on the Roughriders (4-3).
Miller says he hasn’t used that experience as a rallying cry for his team.
“The last game is history, so we really focus on one game at a time and one play at a time,” Miller said Thursday.
“That’s how we approach it, and the players have bought into that. So past doesn’t really affect present and we’re focused on this game.”
Try telling that to Darian Durant.
The Roughriders quarterback had a miserable game the last time he faced the voracious Alouettes defence, completing only 10-of-20 passes for 112 yards and an interception before being pulled in favour of Steven Jyles.
Despite what Miller might say, Durant hasn’t forgotten Montreal’s last visit to Regina.
“We always remember our home losses,” Durant said. “If we can come in and spoil a home game for them it would be big for us.”
That won’t be easy against an Alouettes defence that hasn’t allowed a touchdown in two straight games and leads the CFL in most major statistical categories, including points allowed and total yards against.
But what should be frightening for the rest of the league — and particularly the Roughriders tonight — is that the Alouettes haven’t hit their stride offensively in spite of the fact they are only one point behind Calgary for the league lead in points scored.
“We’re not even close,” Alouettes quarterback Anthony Calvillo said. “We know as an offence we need to do a better job of staying on the field a little bit longer and sustaining drives. That’s the thing that stands out in my mind.”
A lot of the credit for Montreal’s offensive production, at least on the scoreboard, goes to the defence creating turnovers and winning the field position battle. For instance in last week’s 39-12 win in Winnipeg, Calvillo had three straight passes go for touchdowns, with two of them coming off turnovers.
Receiver Ben Cahoon wants the offence to stop relying so much on the defence to create scoring opportunities.
“We need to make things happen for ourselves rather than being opportunistic and capitalizing on a turnover that the defence causes or a great return on special teams,” said Cahoon.
“We need to get the ball in bad field position and take it the full length of the field. We do have opportunities each week for that, and that’s one area we can improve in.”