And now on with the game news.........
It looks like Sask’s loss of Paul LaPolice - their former offensive line co-ordinator - is Winnipeg’s gain. The Bombers look like a completely different team this year. I recognized Paul’s style in many of the plays tonight, having seen them so often when he was with my team. His decision to start former BC Lion, Buck Pierce, at first glance looks to be a good one. Buck was solid tonight. He ran when he saw an opening and got a couple of important first downs doing so. He remembered to slide into a tackle thus protecting his head better. He threw for over 400 yards, and he looked happy and relaxed on the field.
The Bomber defense sacked Kevin Glenn so many times, I lost track and otherwise bedevilled the Ti-Cats out of play after play. The day did not start out that way, however.
On the first play of the game, Marcus Thigpen blew past all Bomber defenders on the kick-off return to charge down the field for a 92 yard return and a TD. The Bombers weren’t able to run the kick off out of the end zone on the following play, and the Ti-Cats led 8 to 0. Things started to go downhill for Hamilton after that.
Terence Edwards was the main man for Pierce tonight, showing both speed and agility. Fred Reid ran for over a hundred yards, most of which were made in one single hand-off when he managed to skip through the defense and tear off down field before the Cats finally managed to catch him.
Hamilton’s only other highlight was yet another kick-off return and TD by none other than Marcus Thigpen. This time he ate up 119 yards before loping into the end zone. Thigpen is a joy to watch as he dodges tackles while zigging and zagging through the lines looking for open field where he hits his stride and is gone like the wind.
At times the game looked like a comedy of errors as one team would give up the ball only to recover it on the next play but have it taken away again on a challenge. It was almost hilarious. The game was rife with turnovers.
It was a sweltering close day in Winnipeg and you could see how exhausting it was for the players. The Bombers managed to keep their strength up till close to the end but Hamilton looked completely worn out by mid-fourth quarter. The number of penalties that Hamilton took in the last quarter was a measure, I believe, of their exhaustion – they were pretty stupid penalties.
All in all, I would say Hamilton has a lot of work ahead of them. They did not look like a cohesive unit tonight and they played like amateurs at times. The Bombers looked much better in comparison but they too need to keep working if they hope to reach the calibre of either the Riders or the Alouettes.
Congrats to all Bomber fans, it looks like you have much to cheer about this year.
Cheer up Ti-Cat fans, it is only the first game and I have faith in Marcel and the team.
Final score: 49 to 29 for the Bombers.