Joff-Jon has become the best one-two running back punch in the CFL.
Maybe that’s because Joffrey Reynolds and Jon Cornish are the only true tandem at the position.
The big reason is the emergence of Cornish, who in his fourth season with the Calgary Stampeders has hit another gear.
For the third time this campaign, the Kansas university football product — who grew up in New Westminster, B.C. — broke free for a 50-yard rush. The huge gain helped the Stamps beat the B.C. Lions 48-35 Friday night.
Of course, it certainly hasn’t hurt that Reynolds continues his amazing consistency, even though he’s getting less time on the field now that Cornish plays every third offensive series.
“It’s not a typical thing to have what we’re doing here,” said Cornish, who was named Canadian of the week by the CFL. “Especially having someone in the top five in rushing, and another (running back) in the top 10.”
While Reynolds has burst into third place in league rushing, Cornish has steadily moved up the rankings to 10th.
The only blemish in his season is the fact he hasn’t scored a touchdown despite rushes of 50, 52 and 50 yards in three separate games.
“Maybe we can call those plays at the 40-yard line instead of the minus-55,” Cornish said with a laugh. “It’s been a different play every time but it’s worked out to similar results.”
During this off-season, he trained for speed, and he’s shown it off when he gets into the open field.
As the season has gone along, Cornish is getting more and more carries, and he now has 274 yards on 31 attempts.
It hasn’t hurt Reynolds, who now has 621 yards on 101 carries, and the Stamps have the most potent rushing attack in the CFL with an average of 152.5 per game.
The one thing that bothers Cornish is his average minus those long runs. Without 152 yards on those three carries, he has just 122 on the other 28 for a 4.4-yard clip.
“My average per carry in the second half is 20 and in the first half it’s two,” Cornish said. “Maybe I’m not warmed up properly or I’m not reading the holes right. The one thing I benefit from is seeing what Joffrey sees. I get to see the holes before I go in there.
“In B.C., our original plan was to run the ball up the middle. They were twisting and doing all sorts of stuff there. We took it outside. Both of us starting having success. We can work together to make each other better.”
To Reynolds’ credit, the 2009 West Division most outstanding player hasn’t cried about not getting the ball as much.
In fact, he doesn’t mind watching Cornish work and getting a different perspective of the defence.
With Cornish becoming a huge threat to break one deep, it’s opened up the passing game when the backup is in there.
“Jon is reeling off big runs,” Reynolds said. “I thought before teams played the pass when he got in the games, but now we’re keeping them honest.”
It would help if Cornish scored once in a while, but Reynolds isn’t about to make fun of him when he calls for a replacement after a marathon scamper.
“I don’t bug him at all,” Reynolds said. “If I break a 50-yarder, I’m probably waving him over, too. The run I had before the half that put us in field-goal position, I waved him on the field.
“This is a good situation as Jon has come along. When he first came here to now, he’s really become a back teams have to defend against.”