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Quarterback in the spotlight as Alouettes host Riders, Calvillo jersey to be retired

10/12/2014 01:25 EDT | Updated 12/12/2014 05:59 EST
MONTREAL - Quarterbacks are in the spotlight heading into the Montreal Alouettes' meeting with the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

The Alouettes (5-8) will retire the No. 13 jersey of perhaps their greatest quarterback ever, Anthony Calvillo, when they play host to Saskatchewan (9-5) at Percival Molson Stadium on Monday afternoon.

And the Roughriders will continue their search for a starter between Tino Sunseri and Seth Doege as they look for a reliable replacement for the injured Darian Durant.

Sunseri, who came on in relief of Doege in a 31-24 loss to Calgary last week, is expected to start, but coach Corey Chamblin is likely to make a switch if the Roughriders don't move the ball.

Montreal coach Tom Higgins knows what it's like, having used four quarterbacks this season in a bid to find a successor to Calvillo. Of late it has been Jonathan Crompton.

"It's simple, they're not quite sure that they have one yet," Higgins said this week when asked about the Riders' quarterback situation. "We understand that because we've gone through that ourselves this year.

"We anticipate seeing both of them at some point in the game. The thing for us is to try to make them as uncomfortable as we can, whether they're passing or having to run the football."

The Alouettes, who are coming off a bye week, are 4-1 since Crompton took over as the starter. They will be looking to join Hamilton and Toronto atop the East Division with six wins, having kept close with the Argonauts' thriller win over the Tiger-Cats on Friday night.

Montreal will be without running back Brandon Whitaker, second in the CFL in rushing with 764 yards, who injured a foot this week. Tyrell Sutton is likely to get most of the carries.

Without Durant, whose season ended with a torn tendon in his right elbow injury on Sept. 7, the Roughriders have lost two in a row and three of their last four.

But they can clinch a playoff spot with a win, which would boost their chances of hosting a post-season game.

"They're going to do what they do," said Montreal linebacker Chip Cox. "They'll run their plays. They're not going to change at this point of the season."

The Roughriders beat Montreal in their only meeting this season by 16-11 in Regina on Aug. 16.

This one should also be close.

"It was a game we felt we were able to get and didn't," said Higgins. "Being at home is a little bit of an advantage, but both teams were a lot different than they are today."

Last week, Doege started but was pulled in the second quarter after going 3-for-9 for 28 yards and three interceptions. Sunseri went 16-for-19 for 289 yards but fell just short of catching the Stampeders.

Crompton has not been all-star material, but has managed to do enough to win, which neither Troy Smith nor Alex Brink could do with any consistency earlier in the season. They have also used Tanner Marsh, mostly in short yardage situations.

Montreal is last in the CFL in team passing with a 53 per cent completion rate and only 2,574 yards in 13 games. The Riders are second-lowest at 58.9 per cent and 2,735 yards.

It's an unfamiliar situation for Montreal, which won three Grey Cups and was almost always a contender with Calvillo as the starter from 2000 until he suffered a concussion midway through the 2013 campaign. He opted to retire last winter.

He will get a long ovation, and the Alouettes players hope to sneak out to take in at least part of the halftime ceremony.

"Just an incredible person and the smartest quarterback I've ever been around," was how tackle Josh Bourke described Calvillo.

Added receiver Dave Stala: "It was an honour to play with him and catch so many balls from him over the years. It's great for him to get his number on the wall. He's a winner. Great guy and great team player."

Higgins said Calvillo is "one of those iconic names that will be talked about, like Ron Lancaster and Warren Moon. It's very fitting to have his jersey retired, well deserved. It's nice to be around when that happens."

Then, two teams trying to get by without a long serving veteran behind centre will try to get a much-needed win.

The Riders picked up a quarterback from Calvillo's era this week by signing Kerry Joseph, although the 41-year old is not expected to play. Joseph led the Riders to the 2007 Grey Cup.

"Whatever they ask me to do is fine," Joseph said this week. "I just want to help this team win."

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