No matter what the statistics say, the Edmonton Eskimos haven't abandoned their running game.
Just three times did Elvis Joseph handle the ball against the B.C. Lions, leaving the Esks looking woefully inept on the ground. They have only four rushing touchdowns in seven games - second-worst in the league - and they sit second-last in three more rushing categories - most net yards, average yards per game and number of attempts.
The only team worse in each category are Saturday's opponent, the Toronto Argonauts. Edmonton sits third from bottom, ahead of only Hamilton and Toronto, with a 4.3 yards-per-carry average.
While the Esks added Jabari Issa for help on defence, head coach Danny Maciocia figured there was no need to replace anyone in the backfield or on the offensive line to improve the running attack. The answer, figured Maciocia, is not in changing personnel.
"You need to make a commitment to it, first, and you're not going to do it by running three times," said Maciocia.
"And you're also not going to make a commitment to it when you're down 20-0. If we can find a way to average five yards a carry, which we will, we'll be better for it. You can't just depend on a passing game."
Elvis Joseph, who figures to start at the tailback spot against Toronto, has racked up only 77 yards this season and Ricky Ray has three of the team's four rushing majors. Ron McClendon leads the team with 162 yards on 33 carries but hasn't hit the end zone on the ground.
"The ability is there and we're working hard towards getting it - the sooner the better," noted Joseph, who is hardly alone in that sentiment.
"We are pretty much one-dimensional," said Ray. "It's worked for us but we need to do a better job of being a balanced offence to keep the defences off balance."
That, in turn, would make life easier in the trenches.
"I don't think we have to change a lot like rushing 20 or 30 times," reasoned lineman Kevin Lefsrud. "Just double digits to keep the defence honest so they can't go into a sprinter's stance and tee off on you every play."
LATE HITS: Davis Sanchez and William Loftus are both expected to be in the lineup for Saturday's game ... The CBC broadcast, in doubt due to the pending lockout, may be left to pictures only with sound provided from the P.A. system. "We have a coach who worked for them for eight years. I'm sure he wouldn't mind double-dipping," chuckled Danny Maciocia, referring to former analyst Dan Kepley.