Playing the numbers

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 10:05 AM ET

The numbers inside Danny Maciocia's offensive system don't lie.

After playing a huge role down the stretch in the regular season last year, running back Troy Davis's productivity has been significantly cut to start this year with the Edmonton Eskimos.

Depending on how you slice the numbers, his productivity has dropped by 25-50%.

It's a staggering change from last fall, when Davis averaged 16 carries and 90 yards per game during the final four tilts of the regular season for the Green and Gold.

To no surprise, the Eskimos went 3-1 in that stretch.

But this year, the all-star back is only averaging seven carries through the first two regular-season games and a measly 42 yards per contest.

Granted, he's averaging two more catches per outing this season, but overall he's still touching the ball significantly less compared to his stint with the Green and Gold last year.

However, the three-time all-star is keeping his frustration level under control - at the moment.

"I just let it all build inside of me until I get real pissed off. I am not pissed off right now, so everything is all right," said Davis.

"All running backs want the ball in their hands 20 to 25 times a game.

"I see Charles Roberts get the ball 32 times (in Winnipeg's last game) - and you feel bad (for yourself).

"But I am not mad at anybody as long as we win.

"It's all about winning."

A self-described quiet man, Davis hasn't barged into head coach Danny Maciocia's office begging for the ball more - and it appears he won't have to.

With the Esks carrying a 1-1 record into tomorrow night's pivotal game in Winnipeg, it looks like Davis will be fed a steadier diet of the pigskin.

"I'd like to see him get the ball more," said Maciocia.

"We're going to try to get him a few more carries.

"We want to be balanced (on offence). There is a legitimate argument for it."

Especially against the No. 1-ranked Bomber defence, which leads the league

in sacks.

After the first two games of this year, the Esks are almost solely a passing team - and if that stays the case tomorrow, Winnipeg's feared front four will be able to key on the pass and come full tilt at quarterback Ricky Ray because they won't be concerned about a running game.

So, it comes as no surprise that Ray also wants to get Davis the ball more.

"When you look at yourself offensively, you go: 'Who are our playmakers?' "asked Ray.

"Obviously, Troy is one of our playmakers and I think we definitely need to get him the ball."

Davis has definitely had success against Winnipeg in the last two years, running for 130 yards in one game and 80 yards in another contest.

FINISH LINES: To put Davis's strange start to the season into further perspective, he's the leading receiver on the Eskimos. By averaging two more catches per game compared to last year, he's totalled 13 receptions after two games. That's one more than Jason Tucker and Ed Hervey. Slotback Mookie Mitchell has eight catches after two games.


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