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Bauming: Bombers looking for Pierce to step up versus Als

Darrin Bauming

7/4/2013 3:55:34 PM

After completing zero passes in the preseason, Buck Pierce entered Week 1 against Montreal, took his first snap, turned to his right, and wobbled a ball into the hands of Alouettes cornerback Geoff Tisdale.

It wasn't what the 33,500 fans at the regular season opening of Investors Group Field were hoping would be written in the history books as the first offensive play at the new home of their Blue and Gold.

It ended up being the first of the 31-year-old pivot s three interceptions on the day. The team added a fumble and a turnover on downs to put the total at five versus Montreal's one. Not the ratio head coach Tim Burke — or any coach for that matter — is looking for.

Granted, the Bombers "O" and Pierce had a great third quarter where he went 7-of-7 for 147 yards and a touchdown to Clarence Denmark, including a 65-yard catch-and-run by Jade Etienne to set it up.

But omit the third quarter — albeit, not totally fair, I know — and Pierce's day looked like this; 12-of-27 for 111 yards, one TD, and three INTs. The examination is relevant because the Bombers trailed 14-0 less than five minutes into the game, and were again outscored 14-0 in the fourth quarter, relinquishing their nine-point lead to lose 38-33.

And although the Buck Pierce reliability-heath discussion is tired, it remains at the forefront of the offensive analysis.

Without Buck Pierce, Winnipeg would be up the creek with a water-logged paddle.

Joe Mack and the team covet No. 2 Justin Goltz's potential upside — he is big, has the arm strength, is an effective runner, and doesn't have a glaring individual skillset weakness — but he is inexperienced and untested. Although talented, Goltz has not stood out in practice and hasn't looked good in the miniscule amount of actual game action he has seen.

CFL rookie Max Hall has shown potential because of his natural skillset and experience starting three games in the NFL, but the 27-year-old's path to starting games in Canada appears to be at least a year away. Or at least the Blue Bombers hope it is.

Now Winnipeg did manage a decent 290 yards of net offence against the veteran-laden Als defence in Week 1, but 11 total first downs and only ten carries for 38 yards on the ground is a far cry from success against any team.

And while Buck Pierce should show better after shaking most of the rust off in the first game of the season opening home-and-home against the Alouettes, the best help Winnipeg's quarterback could receive in Week 2 is for offensive coordinator Gary Crowton to take note of the team's 2012 Most Outstanding Player nominee Chad Simpson's twitter handle: @givechaddaball.