Stamps aim to stop ... Stamps
By Ian Busby, QMI Agency
|Calgary Stampeders' Brandon Smith makes a catch during practice.
As a member of the Stamps, it’s been a long time since Brandon Smith faced Stamps.
As luck would have it, last year that happened to be a good thing for the Calgary Stampeders.
Immediately before the Battle of Alberta was set for three meetings over a span of five weeks in 2010, Fred Stamps went down with a shoulder injury.
Without Stamps, the Eskimos offensive attack took a hit — while the entire team crumbled — and Calgary swept the series by a score of 144-40.
Back in 2009, the Stampeders were left scrambling to replace their underrated halfback Smith because he was out the year with a torn ACL.
On Saturday, Stamps leads the Eskimos into Calgary, and Smith is focused on slowing down the CFL’s leading receiver.
“It’s always a fun going against him,” Smith said.
“I know he will run every route hard. I have to be prepared and stick with him.
I can’t fall for those double moves.”
It will be a team effort for the Stampeders to stop what is the one of the most potent offensive CFL units through three weeks.
The Eskimos have the league’s top rushing attack, and they will get Arkee Whitlock back from a hamstring injury. He hasn’t played this season but gives the Eskimos a strong threat along with Canadian Jerome Messam, who is third in league rushing.
With receivers Jason Barnes and Adarius Bowman also having great seasons so far, the Stamps can’t necessarily focus just on Stamps.
If they wanted to try, Smith feels he could stick with him.
“I don’t feel there is a receiver in the league I can’t cover,” Smith said. “If there was somebody I thought could beat me on a certain play, I don’t need to be out here playing. I would have lost the battle already.
“No disrespect to the other receivers but I feel I can cover anybody in the league.
“I have a lot of confidence in myself, my teammates and the coaching staff.”
In the Labour Day doubleheader last year against the Eskimos, Smith suddenly caught fire.
He picked off a Ricky Ray pass headed for Kelly Campbell and took it for a touchdown. It was the first of four interceptions over the two games. Smith didn’t have another the rest of the season, but he picked up one last week against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
The Eskimos are a much different offensive team this year with new co-ordinator Marcus Crandell at the helm, and Ray has yet to turn the ball over in three games.
“I’m not sure I could do the same routine as last year,” Smith said. “Some of the guys said when you break the ice, they start coming. “I never knew they could come back-to-back with two-interception games.
“I didn’t get too many opportunities after that. Not too many balls went off my hands.”