Air is just fine for Maas

GERRY PRINCE -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 8:43 AM ET

Jason Maas's cranky throwing shoulder is the tip of the injury iceberg. The 28-year-old Edmonton Eskimos quarterback has taken a lickin' and kept on tickin' through the first dozen games of the 2004 CFL season.

The stinger that occasionally leaves Maas with numbness in his right arm, as well as the thumb on his right hand, is the most public of his injuries.

Obviously, that isn't all that ails the five-year CFL veteran. There's more. Plenty more. But Maas is loath to go there.

Nor is he talking about his league-leading completion percentage or second-best passing total in the CFL. In fact, Maas is reluctant to talk about himself, period.

Still, when you break down his 3,412 passing yards, you discover something of a statistical anomaly.

Prior to last week's 44-12 romp over the Calgary Stampeders, the tough-as-nails QB had passed for twice as many yards at Commonwealth Stadium as he has on the road this season.

"I don't know what that's about," offered Maas, who has a 67.2 completion percentage. "Sometimes that just happens, I guess. We've won two games on the road and we've won five at home.

"Obviously, I don't think our offence has been as effective on the road. We've passed, I think, more than we've run. That could be part of it."

BIG NUMBERS AT HOME

Through his first five starts at Commonwealth, Maas launched the ball for 2,009 yards for a per-game average of 401.8 yards. In a half-dozen road tilts Maas has 1,202 yards passing for an average of 200.3 yards per game.

Even when you toss last week's victory into the mix, Maas is averaging 368.5 passing yards per game at home.

The fact that the Esks have run the ball more than they've thrown it during road games is not by design according to offensive co-ordinator Danny Maciocia.

"I think it's the number of plays that we run," he reasoned. "The reason why it's totally out of whack is those first few games (when the team started 0-3-0). In Ottawa (July 2), we ran like three plays in the third quarter and we hardly ever got on the football field in the second half.

"We've played teams on the road and averaged 53 or 54 plays offensively. When we're at home, we're in the high 60s and maybe 70. The exception was Ottawa here (Aug. 29) when we had 83.

"I guess we're a better home team than we are a road team right now. And that's going to have to change if we still expect to finish first in our division."

Additionally, the disparity in the home-road passing split might not be as great had Maas spent more time behind centre.

After being driven shoulder-first into the artificial turf by Toronto defensive end Jonathon Brown shortly before halftime, Maas lost virtually all sensation in his throwing arm.

Save for one failed pass attempt, Maas watched the final half of the Toronto game. He was relegated to observer status during the fourth quarter of the Labour Day Classic.

In five of six road games this season Maas has thrown for under 200 yards.

His most prolific passing performance away from the friendly confines of Commonwealth came at Ottawa in Week 3. Maas was good on 24 of 30 passes for 301 yards that night.

Disparity aside, Maas was echoing Maciocia's sentiments on the subject.

"I think it's interesting the fact that we're as dominant as we are at home and we're not as dominant on the road," observed Maas,whose five interceptions are the fewest among all current CFL starters.

"That goes to show right now we're not as good of a team on the road as we are at home - although we did win our last game on the road."

BOMBERS AWAY

Throwing for a career-high 540 yards and establishing a CFL record by firing 22 straight completions versus Winnipeg on July 30 didn't hurt Maas's passing average at Commonwealth.

Nor did his 497-yard performance against the B.C. Lions in the defending Grey Cup champions' home opener.

Jason Tucker had six catches for 177 yards in the Esks' home opener and three receptions for a whopping 175 yards the night Maas lit up Winnipeg's secondary.

All of which is none to shabby, considering Maas played second- or third-fiddle to phenom Ricky Ray for the better part of two seasons.

"We knew what he could do," said Tucker, the Esks' leading receiver. "He's a proven quarterback in the league. There's no doubt in his abilities to get the job done.

"It's no surprise that he's doing it. Jason is making the reads and throwing the ball and putting it where it needs to be. It's nice when things are going like that.

"He's back in the starting role and he his opportunity and he's taking full advantage of it."


Videos

Photos