Winnipeg Free Press Newspaper Archives Aug 26 2015, Page 27

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Winnipeg Free Press (Newspaper) - August 26, 2015, Winnipeg, Manitoba C M Y K PAGE D3 TODAY’S BOMBERS REPORT WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 26, 2015 D 3 A MEDIA scrum has just pulled away from Robert Marve — and that’s a scene the Winnipeg Blue Bombers quarterback had better get used to over the next few weeks — when a straggler lingers to ask him a few more questions. And it was then, during a brief chat about managing expectations in what will be his second pro start this weekend with the pressure of winning right now, that the 26- year- old Floridian provides a snapshot of his approach to the game. “ You know, I feel like me boasting or me being up and down on my game is not going to help the team at all,” said Marve, after the press crew had finished having him dissect his first- ever start against Toronto 12 days ago. “ When people ask me, ‘ How you feel you did individually?’ it’s tough. “ To me, quarterbacking is like being the captain of a ship: Did we arrive where we wanted to arrive or not? We didn’t in my first start. Now we need to work to get better.” Let’s be fair here: Expecting Marve, who now has 58 pass attempts in his career, to lead the Bombers into the playoff picture while Drew Willy is on the shelf is an enormous ask. Sure, the same is being asked/ demanded of James Franklin in Edmonton, of Trevor Harris in Toronto, of Brett Smith in Saskatchewan and of Rakeem Cato in Montreal. That’s all part of the nature of the game and of the gig and Marve knows it. But while quarterbacks get too much glory in victory and too much blame in defeat, there’s no question the spotlight will remain on the Bombers’ No. 16 over the next month or so. He is the man of the moment, however long it might last. And the Bombers — with an overflowing injured list and some serious issues on special teams — will need Marve to be more than just OK. They’ll need him to fast- forward his learning curve and become a difference- maker on offence. Again, that’s a big ask, but it is this club’s reality at 3- 5. “ The thing with Marve is he didn’t even have a full practice before his first game,” reasoned Bombers defensive tackle Zach Anderson after practice the other day. “ We had a rain delay on a short week and basically just threw him in there for a game. We’ll get him some practices, get the offence rolling and get started on a streak. “ We’re not trying to tread water until Drew comes back. As far as we know, Drew could be out for the season and our starting quarterback is Marve. And we’re OK with that. That’s fine.” Now is as good a time as any, what with the Bombers taking a step back and not practising Tuesday after coming back early from their bye week, to offer up a few takes on the local footballers, beginning with five figures we figure are on the hot seat with 10 games remaining... At the helm Marve and mates insist they are not treading water until Willy’s return — there’s a new captain in charge NOTABLE NUMBERS 0- 4 Winnipeg’s record when trailing after three quarters. Beat the traffic by leaving early? Might as well. 26 The number of sacks surrendered by the Bombers, highest in the league. Can’t hang all of this on the Oline because QBs have to get the ball out of their hands quickly, receivers have to get open and offensive co- ordinator Marcel Bellefeuille has got to counter the blitzes with some creativity of his own. But the Bombers invested a lot of money in the trenches to avoid being dead last in this category — again. 4 Interception total for rookie Bomber cornerback Johnny Adams, tied for most in the CFL. - 77 Winnipeg’s points for/ against ratio ( 160 PF/ 237 PA); worst in the CFL. Three of the Bombers’ five losses this year have been by 26 points or more. 44 Tackle total for rookie linebacker Khalil Bass, tied for fourth- most in the league and tops on the Bombers chart. 64.3 Percentage of converts made by kicker Lirim Hajrullahu ( nine of 14). Interestingly, the leaguewide success rate on two- point conversions is 69.2 per cent and the Bombers are 2- for- 2 in two- point tries. ED TAIT LIRIM HAJRULLAHU POSITION: KICKER WHAT’S TO LIKE: His leg is big and he’s got long- range capability — he hit from 53 yards out twice in the loss to Toronto, eclipsing his career high of 51 from last year. His punting, although he has had a couple blocked, has also been superior and he’s developing consistency in pinning returners deep or doing the coffin- corner thing. THE CONCERN: What’s up with the converts? He has already missed five this season ( nine of 14) and whiffed the 32- yard tries in four different games. This from a guy who was 11 of 14 in field- goal attempts from 40- yards plus last year. This team already had little room for error in the score zone, and especially so now with Marve at the controls. BEST- CASE SCENARIO: His FG numbers — 14 of 17 — have been good. If he can beat this mental block, or whatever it is, on the converts and continue to work on his punting, he could play an important role in the push to a playoff spot. NICK MOORE POSITION: SLOTBACK WHAT’S TO LIKE: He leads the Bombers in catches with 33, despite missing two games, and is second only to Calgary’s Eric Rogers in second- downconversion receptions with 13. Moore had a chemistry with Willy and has the same with Marve, and that speaks of his understanding of the playbook and his ability to get open. THE CONCERN: The two games missed this year, coupled with the half season he missed in 2014, are a worry. And for all his productivity, most of it has come between the goal- lines — he now has 77 catches as a Bomber, only one of which finished with him in the end zone. BEST- CASE SCENARIO: He stays healthy and finds the end zone often. The Bombers are without their best deep threat in Darvin Adams and Moore, combined with Clarence Denmark, needs to be more than just a guy who can move the sticks. He had six TDs in his last year with B. C. before signing in Winnipeg and if he could hit that number again — and that would mean five scores in the final 10 games — it would be a boon for the Bomber offence. TROY STOUDERMIRE POSITION: KICK RETURNER WHAT’S TO LIKE: Let’s be clear here: the Bombers’ woes on special teams go much further beyond the return game, but this is as good a spot as any on which to fixate. Stoudermire was spectacular a year ago, leading the Bombers in both kickoff and puntreturn yards and taking one punt to the end zone. THE CONCERN: He began the season on the injured list and, since coming back, has done more east- west than north- south in the return game. Worth noting: Justin Veltung’s averages, both in kickoff and punt returns, are slightly better. BEST- CASE SCENARIO: The Bombers need Stoudermire to flip the field for them again and be the dangerous threat he was last season. He’s too good an athlete not to bust at least one return from now to the end of the campaign. HEAD COACH MIKE O’SHEA AND HIS STAFF WHAT’S TO LIKE: There is a loyalty to the head man from his players and appreciation for his no- nonsense approach. The defence is becoming a force under new assistants Richie Hall, Todd Howard, Barron Miles and Greg Knox. THE CONCERN: The special- teams mistakes have been an issue for a good chunk of the season and the offence often gets it fed to them by opposition defensive front sevens. O’Shea’s loyalty to some of his vets will also be tested if the losing continues. There’s also no hiding from this stat: since going 5- 1 to open 2014 the Bombers are 5- 15 since. BEST- CASE SCENARIO: A playoff appearance, especially with the Grey Cup right here in the Bombers backyard. That berth would represent a progression on the field and help the bottom line off it. ed. tait@ freepress. mb. ca Twitter: @ WFPEdTait ROBERT MARVE POSITION: QUARTERBACK WHAT’S TO LIKE: He brings a dynamic excitement to the huddle and can use his mobility to extend plays. Says all the right things when the microphones are in his face and has a big collection of supporters in his own huddle. The concern: remember just a few weeks back when everyone was gushing about Montreal’s Rakeem Cato and how he might be the next great passer in Alouettes’ history? Yeah, umm, about that... with more film to study, defensive co- ordinators are now attacking Cato with a variety of looks. Since throwing three touchdowns against Calgary in his first start, Cato’s TD- to- interception ratio is 4: 7. EXPECT THE SAME FROM MARVE: We really won’t get a read on his game until he gets a few miles behind the wheel of the Bomber offence. BEST- CASE SCENARIO: Marve helps keep the Bombers in the playoff picture until Willy returns, establishing himself as a bona fide No. 2, or 1A, in the process. D_ 03_ Aug- 26- 15_ FP_ 01. indd D3 8/ 25/ 15 9: 21: 50 PM

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