Ken Murray Breaks Down The Game

November 20, 1994|By Ken Murray

Quarterbacks

Winnipeg's Matt Dunigan played only

11 games because of a knee injury, but still threw for 31 touchdowns (and 16 interceptions). Baltimore's Tracy Ham had 30 TDs and 13 intercepts in 17 games. Dunigan, the most prolific single-game passer in pro football history with his 713-yard performance in Week 2, averaged 360.4 passing yards a game to Ham's 255.7. Dunigan did not look sharp in last week's semifinal win over Ottawa. Ham had a good game against Toronto, and his best game against Winnipeg three weeks ago.

Edge: even

Running backs

Winnipeg's Blaise Bryant is out with ligament damage in his left knee and has been replaced by former NFL runner Keith Woodside. Baltimore not only has Mike Pringle back from a groin injury, but in his absence last week, Robert Drummond ran for 111 yards. Baltimore had the most productive running game in the league, and Winnipeg was fifth. Pringle ran for 209 yards against Winnipeg in the last game.

Edge: Baltimore

Receivers

Slotbacks Gerald Wilcox (111 catches) and Gerald Alphin combined for 184 catches, 2,618 yards and 31 touchdowns for Winnipeg this year. Baltimore's top two receivers, Chris Armstrong (18 TDs) and Walter Wilson had 122 receptions for 2,486 yards and 22 TDs. Wilson is questionable with a separated shoulder, though. In the short passing game, Ham can go to fullback Peter Tuipulotu or Drummond.

Edge: Winnipeg

Offensive line

Winnipeg has a patchwork line, having lost starting guards David Black and Brett MacNeil to knee injuries. The Bombers' strength is their massive tackles, Chris Walby and Miles Gorrell. Baltimore's tackles, Shar Pourdanesh and Neal Fort, are as good, if not better. In Nick Subis, the CFLs have the All-East center. Baltimore gave up four fewer sacks and averaged 44 more yards in the running game.

Edge: Baltimore

Defensive line

Winnipeg's three-man front can exert pressure, but the Bombers create most of their havoc with blitzes. Baltimore's run defense was third best in the league, and its pass rush increased significantly once former Bomber Elfrid Payton arrived. Nose tackle Jearld Baylis will play on a torn calf muscle, but his presence alone will make Winnipeg account for him.

Edge: Baltimore

Linebackers

Winnipeg lost its two best linebackers (Payton and Greg Battle) from last year's team, but Greg Clark and Paul Randolph have played well for the Bombers. Reggie Givens, a product of Penn State, was assigned to handle Ottawa's Michael Richardson last week. He will probably get the same assignment against either Pringle or Drummond. Baltimore's unit of Tracey Gravely, Matt Goodwin and Alvin Walton (splitting time with Ken Benson) is quietly very efficient.

Edge: Baltimore

Secondary

Cornerback Don Smith and halfback Bobby Evans, two All-East picks for Winnipeg, combined for 10 picks in the regular season. Baltimore had two All- East DBs in cornerback Irv Smith and safety Michael Brooks. Corner Karl Anthony and halfback JTC Charles Anthony played well enough to make it, too. The Bombers' secondary has too many lapses.

Edge: Baltimore

Special teams

Winnipeg place-kicker Troy Westwood hit 42 field goals and 72 percent of his kicks, including 5 of 8 from 50 yards and beyond. Baltimore's Donald Igwebuike doesn't have that range, but he nailed 43 field goals at an 81 percent clip. Baltimore's Lester Smith led the CFL with an 11.4 punt return average, compared to Allan Boyko's 5.6 return for Winnipeg. Baltimore has the edge on kickoff returns as well, with Pringle averaged 21.4. Bryant was Winnipeg's top kick returner.

Edge: Baltimore

Coaches

Baltimore's Don Matthews has a career record of 109-65-1. He's in his sixth division final, where he has a 2-3 record. Matthews has been a head coach or assistant on six Grey Cup championship teams. Cal Murphy of Winnipeg is 71-31-1. He has been a coach or general manager for seven Grey Cup championships.

Edge: even

The Bottom Line

Baltimore has the best defense of the two finalists, and a much more versatile offense. In the CFLs' 57-10 blowout of Winnipeg on Oct. 29, they won with a combination of ball control offense and dominating defense. They are the better team, Winnipeg's history notwithstanding. Even bad weather should not derail the CFLs from their Grey Cup destination at this point. For Winnipeg, a 47-point beating under any circumstances is hard to forget. It will take Winnipeg's very best game, coupled with a poor game (( from Baltimore, to tip the scale now.

Edge: Baltimore

Baltimore Sun Articles
|
|
|
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.