O-line shares blame for Stamps run woes

Stampeders running back Joffrey Reynolds was held to 15 yards on seven carries in his last game....

Stampeders running back Joffrey Reynolds was held to 15 yards on seven carries in his last game. (QMI Agency file photo)

IAN BUSBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:38 PM ET

MONCTON, N.B. - The stat line goes to one player, but five other Calgary Stampeders feel responsible.

So when Joffrey Reynolds has just 15 yards on seven carries, the Stamps hoggies take it personally.

They get even more upset when it’s suggested the six-time 1,000-yard rusher is slowing down because of performances like the one had in Saturday’s 32-19 loss to the B.C. Lions at McMahon Stadium.

“For whatever reason, the stats haven’t worked out in his favour this year,” right guard Dimitri Tsoumpas said. “Should the opportunity arise, he will be the first in line to make the cuts he needs to.

“It falls on us. As an offensive line, how well your running back does and your offence in general reflects your offensive line.”

Head coach John Hufnagel pinpointed the short-yardage situations as an area that needed to get better from last week’s losss.

Four times, Reynolds was given the ball with less than five yards to make a first down, and the plays all failed. Hufnagel said the running back has to be able to get past the line of scrimmage, which means the hoggies need a better push.

When the defence knows you are running the ball in those situations, it often comes down to several one-on-one battles.

Blocking assignments must be completed, but it has to be done with a certain attitude as well. It’s an attitude the Stamps are trying to find as they get ready for Sunday’s Touchdown Atlantic against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

“It won’t be easy to fix,” Reynolds said. “Last week, the defensive line wanted it more.

“When a team wants it more. It’s a mentality. When we had guys like (retired centre) Rob Lazeo, he had an edge to him. If he got beat one time, he might trip the guy the next time. I’m not saying it was legal, but it happened. It’s a work in progress.

“It’s tough when you are getting tackled by defensive linemen. You don’t want to point the finger. I don’t care if we had Chris Johnson up here. If you have a 300-lb. lineman hanging onto you, it’s hard to go anywhere.”

The Stamps recently made changes along their line, as Jon Gott replaced Tim O’Neill at centre and Edwin Harrison returned from injury to start at left tackle.

They are still working on chemistry, but some of those running situations just require maximum effort more than anything else.

“If we are fighting for that first down, and we only have a couple yards to go, it’s going to be cutthroat,” Tsoumpas said. “It’s mano-a-mano. Having the right mentality sometimes dictates that.”

Reynolds has just 458 yards in 11 games this season, and outside of an 80-yard outing in Edmonton, he has rushing totals of 11, 13 and 15 in recent outings. At age 32, his chase for 10,000 yards is taking longer than expected this season. (He needs 806.)

“Joffrey has all the ability he’s ever had,” said left guard Steve Myddelton. “When he gets his touches, he’s as consistent as he’s ever been. It’s a matter of getting confidence in our run game early and putting us in those second and short situations where we can keep it rolling.”

Reynolds has never been a rusher who would shake a defender out of his shorts. He’s a downhill runner who does everything that’s required of him well, which makes him hard to replace.

Expecting him to change now is unreasonable.

“When there is nothing there, you would like to think you can fly over the line, or reverse field and make everybody miss,” Reynolds said.

“In reality, you run the plays, and they don’t work out. Seven carries for 15 yards isn’t efficient no matter how you cut it.”


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