The 96th Grey Cup in Montreal this Sunday could be one for the ages. Both the Calgary Stampeders and the Montreal Alouettes were the top teams in their division, their Quarterbacks are the finalists for the CFL's Most Outstanding Player, both offenses can light up the scoreboard, and both defenses can shut down when called upon.
I didn't really think anything of it when it was first made aware to me that Montreal, being the host, had an advantage. Then I remembered being at the 2001 Grey Cup when the Stampeders beat the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
I remembered how good of a job Montreal did hosting the game, and how loud it was. That game didn't even have the Als playing in the big game. Imagine how loud it will be when there are 68,000 fans, and most of them are cheering for the Alouettes. It will get mighty loud without any help from the alleged "canned crowd noise".
As we've seen in the past, the offense needs to hear the calls of the quarterback, and not being able to hear that can cost precious yards in penalties, and can frustrate an offense to no end.
The Stampeders are a slightly stronger team, and may have had an advantage if it were in any other city, but the fact they are playing in the deafening confinds of Montreal's Olympic Stadium, the advantage definitely shifts to the Alouettes.
This, however, does not guarantee a win for the Als. There are two keys to combat the noise. These two factors will have a definite impact on the outcome of the game.
1. Preparation. George Cortez isn't new to playing in loud buildings having coached teams in BC Place Stadium. There must be a communication system that will allow the team to work in sync, and not get caught with unnecessary procedure penalties.
2. Take The Crowd Out Of It. This almost 100% of the time needs key No. 1 to be implemented for key No. 2 to work. The Stampeders are known for their slow starts, and if they get behind early, it will be much harder to make that comeback with the crowd interfering the way they do.
If you take the Montreal fans out of it early by scoring early and often, the fans lose their intensity, and it makes it easier for the offense to work to finish the Als off.
Having said that, if the Als can shut Burris down early, and put points up early, Montreal will have a much better chance of winning. Even in a shootout, the Als will have an advantage, and keeping the crowd in it will make it that much easier to allow for Anthony Calvillo to finish his career with a Grey Cup victory. Failure to do so will give Henry Burris a chance to win his first Grey Cup as a Starter, and finally silence his critics.