September 27, 2012
Stamps prep for Eskimos ... again
By SCOTT MITCHELL, QMI Agency
Fashion rules tell us not to wear white after Labour Day.
Football rules tell us to expect the unexpected.
Even though the Edmonton Eskimos and the Calgary Stampeders will be meeting for the third time in a 25-day span Friday at McMahon Stadium (8 p.m., TSN, QR77), there have been many wardrobe changes since the early September tilts provided a pair of field-goal finishes.
Kerry Joseph started both those contests under centre for the Eskimos.
With Steven Jyles and Matt Nichols splitting reps in E-Town this week, the Stamps will definitely see a new signal-caller.
Then there’s the purported three-headed monster in the Esks’ backfield. It’s looked more like a three-headed mess, as Hugh Charles, Jerome Messam and Cory Boyd have all failed to crack 35 yards rushing in a game. Messam and Boyd have even taken turns being a healthy scratch the last two weeks in losses to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and the B.C. Lions.
It’s safe to say, in the midst of a four-game losing streak, the Eskimos (5-7) are trying to pin down a personnel grouping that works.
Stamps’ defensive back Keon Raymond doesn’t care.
“We can’t worry about those little things,” Raymond said. “We’re going to come out, give everything we’ve got, give our fans a show, and we’re going to run around and try to knock some people out.”
Jyles took snaps in last week’s 19-18 loss to the Lions, but Nichols, who threw his first career CFL touchdown pass on a botched field-goal attempt during the Labour Day Replay, could draw the start Friday.
Again, Raymond doesn’t care.
“We’re going to play ’em like they’re Anthony Calvillo,” the 29-year-old said.
“They’ve got three capable quarterbacks,” added linebacker Juwan Simpson. “All of them are good and they’re all getting paid for a reason, that means they can play.”
With a win Friday, the Stamps (7-5) can lay claim to the season series before it gets to the fourth and final meeting in the last week of the season.
Winning the turnover battle will be crucial, something the Stamps weren’t able to do in the first two meetings, turning the ball over a combined five times in eight quarters.
“We turned the ball over in those two meetings probably three or four times inside their 30,” said Stamps slotback Nik Lewis. “You put those as field goals or touchdowns, and it’s a totally different outlook.”
The Esks’ ball-hawking defence is built to give up a few yards and come up with a timely turnover, said Stamps’ offensive co-ordinator Dave Dickenson.
“They played us kind of differently in the two games,” Dickenson said. “We had our success, but we weren’t great in the red zone. We want to improve our efficiency and make sure we get points. They’re kind of a defence that will give you yards, but they come up with turnovers.
“In order for us to win, I think we have to keep making yards after the catch and stay aggressive but don’t compromise ball security to do that.”
While consistency and efficiency are the two words being bandied about in Stampsland offensively, shutouts and knockouts are on the collective mind of the stop unit.
“Whatever they do, if we get 12 guys on the same page, we’ll be successful,” Simpson said. “We gave up a couple touchdowns we shouldn’t have given up (in the first two meetings) and some big plays. We’re all about shutting opponents out. If they score anything, we don’t feel like we’ve done our job as a defence.”