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Stampeders set to take on Blue Bombers with new-look offensive line

07/17/2015 06:10 EDT | Updated 07/17/2016 05:59 EDT
CALGARY - After finding a way to beat the Toronto Argonauts at home last Monday, the Calgary Stampeders hope to do the same against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers just five nights later.

The Stamps (2-1) will take on the Bombers (2-1) at McMahon Stadium on Saturday night without the services of starting offensive linemen Edwin Harrison and Dan Federkeil, who both suffered broken legs in the second quarter of Calgary's 25-20 win over the Argos.

"What occurred in the game was pretty bizarre," said Calgary head coach and general manager John Hufnagel. "What I really enjoyed about our football team last week was that they kept their poise.

"All three phases of the game understood what needed to be done to give us a chance to win the game. They hung together and they found a way to win. That's very pleasing to see as a head coach."

Second-year Stampeders centre Pierre Lavertu said he's confident that Calgary's new-look offensive line can get the job done to open up space for quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell to run Calgary's offence.

"Focus on our technique, make sure that everybody's on the same page," said Lavertu of what it will take to have success against the Bombers. "That's on me. I'm the centre. I need to make sure that everybody knows where they're going so we're going to make plays from there."

Mitchell also has confidence in his rebuilt offensive line, which will feature Spencer Wilson at right tackle, Brad Erdos at right guard, Shane Bergman at left guard and newcomer Garry Williams at left tackle. Williams played 41 NFL games with the Carolina Panthers from 2009-14 before signing with the Stamps in May.

"I know those guys are prepared," said Mitchell, who threw for 303 yards and two touchdowns against the Argos. "I know they're ready to play. Garry looked me in the eye in the locker-room and said, 'Don't worry man, I'm going to go out there and play and I'm not going to let anybody touch you.' I'm excited to see him play."

Winnipeg coach Mike O'Shea said the Bombers didn't spend much time focusing on Calgary's roster changes in the week leading up to Saturday's clash between the co-leaders of the CFL's West Division.

"They're well coached, they've got good depth," said O'Shea, whose squad edged the Montreal Alouettes 25-23 at home on July 10. "Their systems are their systems. They're going to come in and run them. We have to defend. You can't go out and plan for one particular roster move. You've got to go out and defend the entire Calgary offence.

"I think you'd be foolish if you thought that some of their roster changes were going to lower their level of play."

Second-year Winnipeg safety Maurice Leggett agreed with his coach's assessment.

"Calgary's still Calgary," Leggett said. "They're a great ball team no matter if they bring someone in last night. They're still going to be Calgary — a good, physical football team and we have to stop the run."

Veteran Calgary defensive back Brandon Smith said the Stamps also have to be wary of Winnipeg's potent offence, which is led by quarterback Drew Willy.

"He's playing well," Smith said. "They're a good, young offence. They have some players that can make plays. They're playing with a lot of effort as well. Their running game has been doing well, so we have to always try to stop the run. When the opportunities come to make a big play and get a turnover, we have to seize the opportunity and make it happen."

Despite completing 20-of-29 passes for 251 yards in the win over the Als, Willy was disappointed that the Winnipeg offence had to settle for four field goals and no touchdowns.

"We need to be better in the red zone," said Willy, who ranks second in the CFL with a QB rating of 117.6. "We moved it decently last game, but if we can get those 12 points we had in field goals to 28 points, that'll help us extremely.

"We did a lot this week to improve in that area and I'm looking forward to it."

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