MONTREAL — Tim Burke has a special appreciation of just how good Anthony Calvillo actually is.
As a former member of the Montreal Alouettes staff, the interim head coach of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers had the benefit of seeing Calvillo on an up close and personal basis, which is why he left little doubt when asked about the biggest challenge his team faces in Monday’s East Division clash at Percival Molson Stadium.
“Obviously it’s Calvillo, he’s the master,” said Burke. “We’ve got to get him off rhythm somehow, whether it’s by getting a pass rush or playing man coverage and making him hold the ball a long time, maybe have a couple of wrinkles that might throw him a little bit. Really, that’s the biggest key.
“The other thing is offensively, we’ve got to produce and come out and get going against their defence. And we’ve got to finish strong too.”
Calvillo is having another outstanding season, with 29 touchdowns to go against nine interceptions while racking up 3,908 yards through the air.
The numbers suggest he’ll receive consideration for another Most Outstanding Player nomination, but Calvillo isn’t that worried about individual achievements at this stage in his career.
“As a quarterback, you want to help your team win and we’re in first place, so I’m happy about that,” said Calvillo. “You try to be consistent. Overall, I’ve been doing a very decent job of that.
“Actually, I’m feeling better this year than last year, which was a bit of a struggle physically. But this year, it’s been pretty fresh. My body and mind is feeling great.”
The Blue Bombers will attempt to win their first road game in seven tries this season and improve on their 3-10 record.
“When everything is not working out for you, what else do you have but to try to make the best of a bad situation,” said Blue Bombers receiver Cory Watson. “We need to win these next five games and have an attitude where we’re confident in winning those five games.”
Joey Elliott will be the third different Blue Bombers quarterback to start against the Alouettes this season, but he doesn’t feel like he’s on a short leash.
“I don’t feel that at all,” said Elliott, who was 20-of-30 for 173 yards in relief against the Toronto Argonauts last week but threw three interceptions. “I need to get in a groove and find a way to get things done and that’s what we need to do offensively.”