It was a cool thing to look at in the middle of summer, a nice little distraction from the dog days of the CFL season.
But hands-up if you really believed that in October we’d still be talking about Blue Bomber running back Andrew Harris’s quest to double down on history.
With three games to go, the 30-year-old Winnipegger remains within reach of 1,000-yard seasons rushing AND receiving, something nobody from either side of the border, or beyond, has ever done in the league’s 105-year history.
The math: Harris needs to average 43 yards on the ground, 61.3 through the air, over the last three games.
A first-time feat like that would stand forever, be revisited forever and dissected forever.
Going along for the ride would be five happy hogs who bulldozed the trail for Harris and gave their quarterback enough time to find him for all those passes.
“Oh, yeah, it’s an exciting thing,” a grinning Travis Bond was saying, Wednesday. “If he go down in history, we go down in history along with him — the guys that open the holes for him and help him get to where he wanted to be at, a 1,000-1,000-yard back.
“We’ll always be remembered with Andrew Harris.”
Harris always calls his linemen the heart of the team.
It’s beating faster these days, knowing what’s at stake.
Bond says he “kind of, sort of,” keeps track of where Harris is at.
“It’d be good if he could bust it at the home game, here,” Bond said, referring to Game 17 against B.C., on the 28th. “It’d be a good thing to give him some love and show the fans that we appreciate them for being here every step of the way.”
That might be a little ambitious.
Fellow hog Jermarcus Hardrick says they can’t get fixated on it, and their head coach recently reminded them.
“To be honest, it’d be great,” Hardrick said of the record. “But the other part of that, after our last game O’Shea said we need to put all our personal goals aside. The team comes first. And I respect anything the head man says.
“If it doesn’t happen and we’re still in the playoffs and still doing great, I’m happy regardless.”
I asked Hardrick why the coach might have felt the need to remind them.
“He didn’t say it for any particular reason,” Hardrick said. “He knows. We’re on Twitter, we’re on Facebook, we see everything. He’s just trying to help us out. He doesn’t want us to get into the clippings and we try and do something and it hurts the team.
“And I’m loving the message we’re getting: stay focused, don’t worry about any goals, just win by one point.”
Leave it to Mike O’Shea to be the party pooper.
“It’s just reaffirming the idea of what we’re here for,” O’Shea explained. “It’s distractions in general or other things that keep you from your duty when you come through that door to your teammates — the obligation you have to prepare to the best of your ability. When you step through that door, you’ve got to leave anything aside.
“What we have on this team is a lot of guys that already know that.”
That said, O’Shea says he loves that players want Harris to make history.
Harris is more than happy to share the glory, too, saying the entire team would be attached to it.
But No. 33 obviously carries a soft spot for the big men doing the dirty work.
“They’re excited for it and take a lot of pride in it,” Harris said. “At the end of the day I’m honestly doing it more for them than I am for myself.”
So what are the chances?
They probably got a little better with the loss of leading receiver Darvin Adams to injury.
Take him out of the lineup, factor in the weather turning cooler, and guess what the Bomber offence is likely to turn to in the next three games.
“With Darvin out, that is a big hole,” Hardrick said. “We’ve got one of the top guys down. But we’ve got one of the top running backs. And I look at us being one of the top offensive lines, on paper.”
You do the math.
O’Shea leaning towards playing Harris right to the end
So if it comes down to the final game of the regular season and Andrew Harris is close to cracking the 1,000/1,000 mark, does he play or does he rest for the playoffs?
Head coach Mike O’Shea’s default position is to keep everybody playing.
“Still not at that point, yet, where I would think of resting guys,” O’Shea said. “It’s about winning and continuity and going in in a good frame of mind. I’d really have to wrestle with all that and see how it fits together, talk to the staff and players and see where it all pieces together in that specific situation.”
Harris says as much as he’d love to make history, he’d acquiesce to the coaches.
“Obviously getting into the playoffs being healthy and flying around is important,” Harris said. “I don’t know how they want to do it. Whatever’s best for the team.”
With six more catches, Harris would become the fifth Blue Bomber to record 100 receptions in a season.
“That’s a huge accomplishment,” Harris said. “I’m assuming Milt Stegall is one of them. To be in the talks with some of the greats, that’s a big accomplishment. That’s something I take a lot of pride in. Catching balls and running routes is part of my game.”
Stegall is, indeed, one of them (106 in 2002).
Eugene Goodlow (100 in 1981) was the first CFLer to do it. Other Bombers in the century club are James Murphy (116, ’86) and Gerald Wilcox (111, ’94).
Published at Wed, 18 Oct 2017 20:41:30 -0400