Buck in the trend

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 8:22 AM ET

It appears the Edmonton Eskimos are going to catch a bit of a break.

Although B.C. Lions head coach Wally Buono has until one hour prior to kickoff to make his final roster changes, it seems that backup quarterback Buck Pierce - not all-star Dave Dickenson - will start tomorrow against the Eskimos in Vancouver.

Dickenson - the highest-rated pivot in the entire league - has an ankle injury that the Lions apparently don't want to aggravate any further.

But while the Eskimo defensive unit is happy with the probable change under centre, nobody is doing cartwheels on the locker-room floor.

"I would rather have Buck Pierce than Dave Dickenson because I think experience says a lot as far as learning our defence and changing things late (at the line of scrimmage or during the play)," said Edmonton cornerback Malcolm Frank.

"But if we don't do our job, we can get beat.

"If we give up long touchdowns and big plays, they are going to beat us."

And that is exactly what happened two weeks ago when these teams met at B.C. Place.

TWO SECOND-HALF SCORING DRIVES

After hurting his ankle in the second quarter, Dickenson had to hand the reins to Pierce - and he engineered two scoring drives in the second half, including the deciding blow.

Leading 17-7 in the third quarter, Pierce and receiver Geroy Simon combined for a 56-yard touchdown to put the game out of reach.

Although he was just a walk-on tryout player with the Lions 18 months ago and played in the shadows of Dickenson and Casey Printers last year, Pierce missed just three throws against the Green and Gold two weeks ago, finishing 11-14 for 182 yards and two TDs.

"When Pierce came in the game, that is when it kind of got out of control," admitted Edmonton halfback Shannon Garrett.

But although they now know that Pierce is the probable starter, the Eskimos are not going to change their game plan for tomorrow night.

"This is the defence that we have learned since Day 1 (of this year) and there is no need to change it," said linebacker Singor Mobley.

Instead, the 3-5 Esks feel they just need to improve the fundamentals in their game - tackling and mental focus - to beat the first-place Leos.

A DIFFERENT SITUATION

And this veteran-laden crew of coaches and players also know that Pierce will be walking into a different situation tomorrow compared to earlier this month. Instead of entering a game with a 17-point lead and facing a defence on its heels, the 24-year-old sophomore will be starting just the third game of his professional career.

In his only start of this year, Pierce threw three interceptions against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers last week in Dickenson's place.

On the flip side, though, Edmonton knows that Pierce likely received more reps in practice this week and brings a certain element that Dickenson doesn't possess.

"Buck is a lot faster and I think he will run the ball a lot more than Dave," said cornerback Keyuo Craver.

Pierce had two impressive 10-yard runs against the Esks, just adding salt to the wound of losing two weeks ago.

Now the Esks are hoping to turn the tables.


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