Whitlock makin' a run for it

DEREK VAN DIEST, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:40 AM ET

Arkee Whitlock would rather have the wins.

The Edmonton Eskimos running back has started the season with a pair of solid rushing efforts that have gone to waste.

Whitlock ran for 116 yards in an opening weekend loss to the B.C. Lions, then picked up another 99 in Sunday's defeat against the Montreal Alouettes.

"It's hard to enjoy those type of things when you come out with two losses," Whitlock said. "I'm looking forward to where I can have a decent game on the ground and then we get a victory, that would be the best of both worlds.

"But it does give us a lot of confidence knowing that we can run the football. One of my goals coming in was to be able to establish a run early. We had a bit of trouble with that at the start of last season and then got it going towards the end of the year."

Whitlock has accounted for the majority of the Eskimos carries this season.

Against the Lions he had 16 for an average of 7.2 yards.

"Arkee provides a burst for us," said Eskimos head coach Richie Hall. "Look at what he did in the second game of the season this year compared to the second game of the season last year. This time against Montreal things went a little bit different for him. Each day he's feeling more comfortable and become more of a better all-around football player. We know he can run the football. It's the other things, like blocking and pass receiving, that we want to get him up to speed."

Whitlock hopes to have a similar effort when the Eskimos travel to Saskatchewan to take on the Roughriders.

"Even though we're 0-2, we think we're still a good football team," Whitlock said. "We were able to run the ball very effectively in spurts and we were only one or two mistakes away from winning.

"Right now we're trying to improve and be more consistent. Unfortunately, we haven't been able to enjoy our run game, which has been good, because we haven't been able to pull out the victories."

Whitlock, 26, has developed into a key weapon out of the backfield for the Eskimos.

"He's just so dynamic as a runner, he has really good feet, he can make good cuts and make guys miss," said Eskimos quarterback Ricky Ray. "As a offence, sometimes we're not going to block everybody and he's got the ability to make that first guy miss and then pick up positive yards. He's been able to do that and gain yards when he probably should have been dropped for a loss."

Whitlock's ability to avoid an initial tackle and then gain yards in the open field helps keep defences honest.

Defensive backs cannot afford to focus all of their attention on the Eskimos' talented receiving corps.

"I don't think anybody really sees it, but I think that's part of the reason we've been able to have success on the ground, knowing that we have guys that can run the top off the coverage like that," Whitlock said.

"When you get those guys running back and you're able to break through the first level and get into the secondary, those guys are just turning around and chasing receivers."


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