Strategies to beat Calgary

Okay, boys and girls, how are we going to get this done?

This is a formidable team we're facing, a team with no obvious weaknesses, featuring a QB who has proven to be our bane over the past few years and a defense run by our ex-coordinator, who knows Calvillo inside and out.


First-down production any which way. Calgary's whole M.O. on defense is to stuff the run on first down, then lock into press coverage on second and long. We can't play into their hands by doing the same thing on first down. Besides handing the ball to Cobourne, I would like to see a few hitch screens (to Richardson or Watkins), which would help to blunt the edge of that pressure defense. Slant routes could also be helpful, allowing Calvillo to find receivers quickly in the middle of the field, which should be vacated with the Calgary linebackers either blitzing or playing the run. We have to mix it up.

Draw plays on second and long. As many of us know, Chris Jones loves to send three-man pressure and drop everyone into coverage on second and long. One way to beat this formation is to run the draw play to Cobourne. With everyone in pass coverage, the middle of the field should be vacated (nobody is going to put a QB spy on Calvillo! :slight_smile:). As Glen Suitor pointed out yesterday, one weakness with press coverage is that if you surprise them with a run, the defenders already have their bodies turned away from the play, and aren't in a good position to come back and help out on run support.

Don't forget about the run. I know our short-passing game is almost a running game on its own, but it doesn't replace an effective ground game out of the backfield. We simply can't let the Stamps pin their ears back and come after Calvillo. We have to force them to respect the run. It's not going to be easy. If we can bounce a few successful runs to the outside, it will take the edge off the pass rush.

Test that secondary deep. If Calgary figures out that we're only going to dink and dunk, they will smother our receivers all day long and stop worrying about being beaten over top. We have to take our shots down field, which brings me to...

No dropped balls. We had at least two big drops yesterday that fortunately didn't come back to haunt us. Calgary is a better team than Edmonton and will make us pay if our receivers don't focus. The chance to burn a team for a big play doesn't come around very often; when it happens, the receiver has to secure the football.

Utilize all our weapons. Richardson is no longer a well-kept secret. Calgary will do their best to shut him down, which is where Cahoon, Watkins, Cobourne (as a receiver), and even Bratton need to capitalize.

Fullback bailout. Teams tend to forget about the fullback on pass plays. Why not use Carter on screen plays to defuse blitz pressure?


Stop the run. Our run D has been excellent all season long, and it can't stop now. We're facing the best tailback in the league. If we can hold Reynolds in check, Burris becomes one-dimensional, which increases our chances of stopping Calgary's offense.

Stick with your assignments, make your tackles. It all comes down to discipline. Players have to stay in their gaps, avoid freelancing, read plays correctly, and then wrap up on the tackle. No arm-tackling or leaving your feet to make a hot-dog play. Get two hands on the player, wrap him up, and don't let go. If you see a teammate tackling, swarm to the ball.

Mix up pressure packages. Burris is a veteran and a master at reading coverage. If you give him the same look on a certain down or in a certain situation, he'll find the weak spot in the scheme and carve you up. The way to force turnovers is to make Burris think something is there when it really isn't. This will be Burke's greatest test as a defensive coordinator, particularly given the quality of Calgary's receiving corps (Lewis, Rambo, Copeland, Ralph, Thelwell).

Spy on Henry. The last time we played Calgary, Burris burned us repeatedly by calling his own number on second and long and running up the middle for big gains because we'd vacated the middle of the field. That has to stop. Reggie Hunt used to be an excellent QB spy in Saskatchewan. This is what he should be doing on any second and long situation, either to stuff Burris on a QB draw or to zone-cover crossing routes.

Start the presses. If we give guys like Lewis, Rambo, and Copeland open releases into the middle of the field, we're going to get embarrassed. We have GOT to get up on the line of scrimmage and jam the receivers at least some of the time.

Trench warfare. Our D-line rose to the occasion yesterday. Next week, they'll face a much stiffer test. Calgary's O-line is the best in the league besides ours. Somehow, some way, they have got to get pressure on Burris. They don't necessarily have to sack him a bunch, but they do have to disrupt his timing and force him to throw before he wants to.


No big plays. One blocked punt for a TD, one punt returned for a TD. Unacceptable. Larry Taylor deserves credit for saving our bacon, but he is not going to break off two punt-return TDs against Calgary. Scott Squires, this is your job on the line. Everyone has to be clear on their assignments, guys have to stay in their coverage lanes and not get washed to the side, and blockers have to be disciplined. We can't afford to give away points on special teams. The Stampeders took one of the best return men in the league in Ian Smart and neutered him for the whole game. Taylor is not going to have the room to maneuver that he did against Edmonton.

Wow what a thoughtful and well reasoned post.

So let me nit-pick just a little.............:smiley:

First down production...........skip the hitch screen. Usually produces a yard or two at the best, and with Calgary's defenders playing press coverage 90% of the time they're right up on the receiver at the snap of the ball, so I don't think any hitch screen would work terribly well, and might backfire badly (as in the defender stepping up and getting an interception).

And for testing their secondary deep...............Ruffin is the guy to go after (stay away from Browner)..........and for a deep route let's shock them (and everyone else) by throwing deep to Deslauriers.

Otherwise, I wish you'd email your fine suggestions to Mr. Trestman.

Good point, I hadn't thought of that. We certainly don't want INTs coming off that play (or any play, for that matter!). That being said, even a one or two-yard gain is helpful insofar as it sets up the 'play-action' element later on. That is, Calvillo can fake a hitch screen with pump-fake, then go deep with the receiver running a stop-and-go route. It's all about the same look generating different plays.

Another way to help the hitch screen is to establish Cobourne on the ground, and then use play-action to him to get the DBs to bite for the split second needed to hitch the pass to the receiver. I'm thinking specifically of Calvillo in shotgun here. Snap, play-action to Cobourne, quick hitch to Richardson or Watkins.

And for testing their secondary deep...............Ruffin is the guy to go after (stay away from Browner)
Agreed. Ruffin will only be playing his second game of the year. Let's victimize him whenever possible. Calgary's D is very aggressive, but aggression carries its own risk. If we can make them pay for that aggression, they will start giving our receivers more cushion, opening up the underneath stuff.
..........and for a deep route let's shock them (and everyone else) by throwing deep to Deslauriers.
What a shock that would be! I like the audacity of what you're suggesting, but I have no faith in Deslauriers to make that catch, or even to get open long enough for Calvillo to attempt the pass. Then again, I'm sure we were all saying the same thing before the 2002 Grey Cup and Woodcock's 99-yard TD scamper that essentially won us the game. :)

In my book, though, Watkins is the ideal candidate for these plays. He's going to have extra room to maneuver because the Stamps will key in on Richardson (big play) and Cahoon (possession). This is where Watkins can really be the difference. I notice that if he isn't involved early in a game, he tends to lose focus and that's when the dropsies start. We need him alert, focused, and executing at peak efficiency. If he can even make one big catch down the sidelines, we'll have planted the seed of doubt in Calgary's minds that they need to watch out for the big play.

Oh right faith in Watkins to catch the deep ball...Like the 2 deep balls he dropped yesterday that were easy cathces while he was wide open and should have taken them to the house!?!?!?!? Cobourne dropped one too and Bratton dropped a whole whack of balls including one in his hands in the endzone. The only person whose gonna catch that ball for sure on a deep route is J. Rich... Watkins and Deslauriers are both WAY too inconsistent. You're gonna have to stick with what works until it doesn't Cahoon is still key and J. Rich has been able to create seperation from the DB's all year, hopefully this Sunday won't be any different. We made Edmonton look good, the only way we're gonna beat Calgary is if all the receivers are on and not playing like they did Saturday, you can't drop that many balls and expect to win. Also special teams have to get their heads out of their a$$es... the blocking was awful, Edmonton made it thru the "A" gap on 2 consecutive punts untouched...we're lucky we only got burned for 7 on those. Plus the punt coverage team was lack lusture... can't win with sp teams playing like that!

Watkins didn't go over 1000 yards this season by playing mumbletypeg. He's a quality receiver who can pile up good YAC if, as I said before, we get him involved in the game early. We need to use all our weapons if we're going to beat Calgary. They'll blanket Cahoon and Richardson when possible, and given the brutal officiating in this league, we can expect to see plenty of clutching and grabbing that doesn't get called. So it's up to us to fight through and make something happen.

Agreed.... I wasn't disputing the fact that Watkins is good, especially after the fact, I just find him inconsistent, especially in the big games. However, you're right that AC is going to need every target available and they're going to have to be on their game, I fear another lethargic start could cost us.

I agree that Watkins is inconsistent. But that’s precisely why we need to get him going. Otherwise, they can just throw a blanket over Cahoon and Richardson. Yes, and we had better not have another lethargic start, as you said. It could be fatal against Calgary.

Well, coach Trestman has already been to the big dance before with the Raiders. Not sure if they won lol...but at least he has been in a championship game wich could be a factor. Also a bunch of Al's players have been to the big dance a few times in there career and not being able to win the whole thing, im sure really urk's them. At there age they know that this might be there last chance to win the cup, so I think they will play there heart and soul out to win this game. Also like the other poster said there was 38 thousand fans in the stadium and it was frickin loud! I just cant imagine how much noise can be made with 65 thousand + fans! Burris isn't going to be able to hear nothing, it's gonna be great! To tell you the truth I have more faith in this game then the Eskimos game. Am I crazy or do you Al's fans feel the same?

Lost to Tampa bay

Yes Mike you're use "there" instead of "their" and "then" instead of "than"........:smiley:

In all seriousness though, I think your assessment has validity. I think we'll come into this game more determined than (not then) the other guys, and that just might provide the intangible difference that puts us over the top.

Play 60 minutes for the O , the D & ST !

3 times this year we lost games because we played 50 minutes !

To see what to do against Calgary there are 3 games that can be looked at to get some insights and there are common treads in all of these 3 losses for Calgary.

Calgary in Winnipeg week 5: That's the game where Dindwiddie looked like Dave Dickenson. Winnipeg didn't allow a sack and the intercepted Burris one if I remember correctly. Dindwiddie spread the ball around and Winnipeg won the battles at the line of scrimmage.

Calgary vs Regina: Crandell's last good game. He spread the ball around Riders won the battles at the line of scrimmage.

Calgary vs Regina: Bishop's last good game. He spread the ball around Riders won the battles at the line of scrimmage.

Key to beating Calgary is to

1- Control line of scrimmage

2- Spread the ball around. If you go one dimensional on Chris Jones they will tee off and beat you up.

3- Get at least one interception off of Burris. Really slows him down.

4- They have two playmakers on offense. Rambo and Reynolds. Als have to keep those two guys in check. Nick Lewis has a busted up hand and can only be used to block, obstruct and run interference. Ralph and Copeland will be second and third reads.

5- On offense in the red zone you have to use overpower them. Carter, Diedrick. You have to overmatch them physicaly or beat them with speed. The guy who has had the most success against them this year is Dressler.

The answers to the Calgary puzzle are mostly found in the game film of their games against the Riders.

The ideas from the above notes indicate we have some very knowledgeable football minds on! I think Burris is the key figure our defense should focus on. I agree that Reggie Hunt would be the one to spy on Burris. Burris is the best they have and, any defensive action that could cut down his effectiveness would be a large component to an Alouette victory!!!!!

Hfx, I see your point about studying game film. However, the big problem is that Calvillo is a timing quarterback. Dinwiddie was just flinging balls out there, Crandell only needed to manage the game because of Sask's D, and Bishop is a gunslinger. All very different QBs from Calvillo. A timing quarterback throws to a spot, not to a receiver. He depends on the timing of the receiver routes. That's why press coverage is so ruinous to timing QBs (incidentally, it's also what gives Peyton Manning, another timing quarterback, so much trouble). A jam at the line of scrimmage disrupts the receiver's route, putting him a step behind when Calvillo releases the ball. The way to combat press coverage is to run the ball effectively and attack DBs with the deep ball: the goal is to get them to back off the bump-and-run coverage because you are burning them on the ground or over top. Once they start giving your receivers a cushion, that's when you go back to the quick-passing game that relies on timing routes.

I am in full agreement, though, that controlling the line of scrimmage is key on both sides of the ball.

I think that stopping the run will be key. Montreal has pretty good DB's and that will probably force Calgary to run more. Spying Buris at least most of the time is a good idea also. Put the best HB on Rambo also..

I am really cheering for the Als in this one. I do consider myself a fan of all the CFL but in my heart I can only cheer for 4 teams (Ham, Mon, BC and Sask). Plus it would be great to see someone actually have a good time at the Big O with an Als win at home.

Go Als!

Kick azz you guys.

I'm sick of hearing all the 'west is best' crapola they have been spewing on here all year.

Crygary will play a lot of man coverage on your receivers, the key will be for AC to take advantage of the mismatches when he gets them. AC's been around the block long enough that he should make them pay.

Well, if the Als win, we can quiet a lot of that 'west is best' talk (though I must admit it is deserved this season, considering how dismal the east was).

Crygary will play a lot of man coverage on your receivers, the key will be for AC to take advantage of the mismatches when he gets them. AC's been around the block long enough that he should make them pay.
One key here is using Cobourne as a receiver. If he's unaccounted for coming out of the backfield, he might wind up matched against a linebacker in coverage, which is a great mismatch for us.

Agreed, and also use Kerry Carter out of the backfield more often.............whenever we go to him it usually works pretty well, and he's a bit of a load for one guy to try to bring down in the open field.

We need to find a way to rattle Burris and get in his face. Unlike Ray, Burris is a QB who will be much less effective the more he gets hit.

Also, I think an intelligent crowd can go a long way in helping out the Als in this one. They need to make Burris' eardrums pop when he's on the field.

Browner is battling an ankle injury, can we find some way to exploit this? Find a way to get a deep threat matched up on him, maybe on a stop-and-go route that would force him to make hard cuts on a bum ankle? I realize that Browner is a shutdown-type corner whom you normally avoid throwing to, but if he's dinged up and it affects his mobility, now might be the time to pick on him with the deep-passing game.