Out-coached, out-played

Reporters are reflected in the sunglasses of Edmonton Eskimos wide receiver Ed Hervey as he answers...

Reporters are reflected in the sunglasses of Edmonton Eskimos wide receiver Ed Hervey as he answers questions at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton, Alta., on Monday, Nov. 7, 2005. (Edmonton Sun/Darryl Dyck)

TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 8:24 AM ET

Confucius says ...

Actually it was Ed Hervey.

"Football," said Hervey, "is a game of chess. Sometimes it's a game of checkers. Lately it seems like we're playing chess and everyone else is playing checkers."

Hervey isn't Confucius. He's Confused. About who is playing the chess and who sent checker players to the game.

Chess masters Denny Creehan and Steve Buratto, the defensive and offensive co-ordinators of the Stamps, respectively, have masterminded the last two and a half games against Danny Maciocia's staff who keep coming to play 'king me' and keep getting crowned.

Maciocia's players tip-toed around the subject yesterday, but not so much that the message wasn't delivered. If they're going to go back to Calgary Sunday and win the war after losing the battle 43-23 in a game that would have given them first place, they're going to need a better battle plan.

"Some of the stuff they ran had us confused," said Singor Mobley.

If they could do nothing else against the Stampeders in the previous game, at least they could stop the run. Joffrey Reynolds had one yard rushing the last time they met. He had 58 Sunday as the Eskimos choked on a chance to finish first.

"I think they played their best game. We didn't play our style of football. The coaches will get it fixed with a good game plan to go back there," said Mobley.

THE LOSER GOES HOME

"After the next one, the loser goes home. We don't want to go home. We have too much talent to go home. We've been in this situation before where everybody is against us. We bounced back. I think we play better when people put that on our shoulders. We bounce back and prove the critics wrong."

Please do. At the start of this season I wrote that it was criminal that Maciocia had to be saddled with this second-rate assistant coaching staff for his first year in the league when Hugh Campbell had Don Matthews, Cal Murphy and Joe Faragalli in his rookie season. If I'm going to be wrong about that, they're going to have to prove it Sunday against Tom Higgins's guys.

Dan Kepley is one of the Eskimos coaches. On the wall in front of the coaches' room in Commonwealth Stadium is a framed Kepley quote: "You're either part of the steam roller or part of the pavement."

Calgary steamrolled the Eskimos for their seventh win in the last eight games - their sixth win in the last eight against Edmonton.

"The blame falls on me," said Ricky Ray, the quarterback who for a fifth straight game didn't throw a touchdown pass.

PLENTY OF TALENT

That's the deal. Ray is a good quarterback. Troy Davis is a good running back. They have four good receivers. And the best defence in the league. What's wrong with this picture?

"We've definitely got the players," said Ray. "We've got to change something. We have to find a way to do it - to do what other teams have been able to do to them."

This team is getting out-schemed. This team has been out-played and out-coached for 10 consecutive quarters against Calgary.

"We're going to look at not changing our philosophy, but changing our schemes," said Maciocia when pressed on it.

Maciocia didn't want to discuss the idea that he'd go to the bullpen for Jason Maas if Ray was struggling in a sudden-death situation. He said he's not into negative thinking.

Finally, he answered the question. Sort of.

"If I thought a quarterback change would lead us to victory, I'd be a fool not to consider it," he said.

Listen, if Hugh Campbell could pull Warren Moon for a series in a Grey Cup game, Maciocia can pull Ray in a West semifinal.

"It's a question of who is going to adjust. They made the adjustments and we didn't."

Hervey said they have to get out of being conservative and go after Calgary's secondary.

"We must take advantage. We need to find out if those young defensive backs can play on their own," he said of when they are in man-to-man coverage.

"This is the time to become more aggressive. We can't be leaving anything on the table. We have to throw everything at them like they threw everything at us."

Time to forget about chess and checkers and start playing X's and O's.


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