Stamps back on quite a run

DAN TOTH -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 12:30 PM ET

The signs are all in plain view.

A distinct nip in the air.

Early morning frost blanketing the field.

Calgary Stampeders players trotting out to practice sporting toques (wool hats to half the roster holding U.S. birth certificates).

Any way you sum it up, it's real football weather and the season when teams typically start leaning on their running games as chilly temperatures and brisk winds make passing less reliable.

Additionally, not since 2001 has the Stamps' late-autumn schedule been as significant as the team travels to Regina to face the Saskatchewan Roughriders, although the forecast calls for unseasonably mild weather tomorrow in the Queen City.

For the first time since Kelvin Anderson's heyday a few years back, the Stamps have a ground attack to turn to in the form of broad-shouldered tailback Joffrey Reynolds.

Reynolds is second in the CFL with 1,236 yards, seven touchdowns and a sparkling 6.1-yard average. His presence provides the team with a consistent running game, one they'll need to succeed down the homestretch and into the playoffs, suggests guard Jay McNeil.

"We know with Joffrey that if we give him just a little bit of a hole to get him body-on-body with defenders, he's going to get a lot of yards because you can't arm tackle him," explained McNeil, a 12-year veteran who helped Anderson become the team's all-time leading rusher with seven 1,000-yard seasons.

"That's big. It was a given with Kelvin he was going to get 1,000 yards and now, with Joffrey, it's fun again. Every time we call a running play. we expect something exciting to happen."

Reynolds, a Texan whose 'awe-shucks attitude' has endeared him to everyone since arriving in Calgary a year ago, will have a much tougher task against the 'Riders.

Although Reynolds rushed for 150 yards the first time the teams met three months ago, that night the Roughies were without massive 315-lb., tackle Nate Davis.

Davis is back on the roster, another reason the 'Riders boast the league's second-best run defence, allowing just 91 yards per contest.

"I'm sure it will be harder to run this game," Reynolds said.

"We need to execute our plays and they're probably going to bring a lot of guys down to the run. Play action will be good for us this week."

As usual, Reynolds gives the nod to his blockers when asked about his rushing totals.

"They give me good decisions as far as not stuttering in the backfield," Reynolds says.

"They give me good lanes, especially getting on guys where I can make good reads. "

Stamps head coach Tom Higgins underlines the importance of a ground game as the playoffs approach.

"We will face the day when throwing the football like we normally do in the regular season is a thing of the past," Higgins said.

"You have to be balanced in order to have late-season success and I think that's what makes us optimistic about the final run."

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CALGARY STAMPEDERS @ SASKATCHEWAN ROUGHRIDERS

TOMORROW AT 2 P.M., TSN


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