Was it 2022 or the first game of 2023? All REDBLACKS fans know is that game one of the 2023 season vs the Montreal Alouettes was a lot like any of the games played between 2019-2022.
Let’s not waste much time and jump right into this, in Down and Distance, there will be three thoughts after each REDBLACKS game (first down = Good, second down = Bad, third down = Ugly).
What a start to the season for the Redblacks’ defence, recording one fumble, sick total sacks (four of them came on second down) & 10 tackles for loss. The unit was able to hold the Alouettes to a total of 63 rush yards (2.9 per carry) & star Running Back William Stanback to only 42 yards on 16 carries (2.6 per carry)
The secondary didn’t come away with an interception and did give up some big plays but overall, the defensive unit was the reason why it was such a close game.
Outside of Lewis Ward going four of four on field goals, the special teams units were not what we have come to know under Bob Dyce. Richie Leone had six punts that avg 42.7 yards, which is four yards lower than his 2022 average. On top of the lower punt avg, the cover unit wasn’t consistent, Alouettes returned five punts for 97 yards and Chandler Worthy had a touchdown return called back due to a penalty. Maybe the loss of Pruneau is bigger than one thought.
We are so used to DeVonte Dedmon being the difference maker on special teams that when has a normal night, It’s considered a disappointment. Dedmon returned seven punts for 51 total yards (7.3 avg). The punt return team didn’t help him much as he seemed to always have three to five Alouettes on top of him as soon as he got control of the ball.
It was a disappointing night for the special teams units as a whole, but this should be looked at as a one-off and be a positive impact in the home opener on Thursday vs Stampeders
The Road To Olympic Gold – FC13 Podcast
This one is obvious, the offence continues to struggle to close out drives with a touchdown and instead settle for field goals, they had seven two-and-outs in the game including six drives in the second half without a single first down.
Arbuckle had three interceptions all throwing into double coverage but he overthrew his receiver plenty of times including Nate Behar at the back of the endzone & Jaelon Acklin had drop on a perfect place ball by Arbuckle on back-to-back plays at the end of the first half that would have tied the game going into halftime
This isn’t all on the players, This also lies at the feet of offensive coordinator Khari Jones. Personal usage and lack of receiver sweeps/shuttle passes seemed to allow Noel Thorpe to stack the box and send extra pressure. Why did Jackson Bennett only touch the ball three times? Dedmon was your Naturalized American, why did he not get a single touch on offence?
If Ottawa wants to show the fans that 2023 will be different then Jones & Co will need to start producing more touchdowns than field goals.
Honourable Mention: First Down
The offensive line deserves an honourable first-down mention. The five man unit that features second-year players Center Cyrille Hogan-Saindon & Right Tackle Zach Pelehos. They gave up one sack & two tackles for loss. They gave Arbuckle consistent time to make a play every game. If this unit can be consistently positive, it will be the first time since 2018 they had a positive offensive line.
Thursday, June 15 at TD Place – Time: 7:30 pm vs Calgary Stampeders (0-1)
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