Run commitment

BOB STAUFFER

, Last Updated: 8:17 AM ET

Run the Ball!

After an embarrassing 54-14 loss last Saturday in Regina the time has come for the Edmonton Eskimos to step it up when they host the Calgary Stampeders today.

The Eskimos can help themselves do this by committing to a more balanced offensive attack.

When the organization brought in Jacques Chapdelaine from B.C. in the off-season it gave the team two of the best offensive minds in the CFL in concert with head coach Danny Maciocia.

However, after an impressive 39-point performance against Winnipeg in their season opener in which rookie tailback Tyler Ebell ran for 132 yards on the ground, the Eskimos offence has gone cold.

That's coincided with a lack of commitment to the run game.

Over the last four games the Green and Gold has averaged only 15.5 points per game. They did post a tough road win in Winnipeg and a character come-from-behind victory over Saskatchewan, which bodes well for down the road; but the Eskimos have to get back to running the ball more often and effectively to put up more points.

To put things in perspective Ron "Goldie" McClendon has only rushed for 89 yards on 23 carries as the Eskimos starter over the last three weeks.

Take away a 47-yard romp on a second-and-short play against the Bombers and McClendon is putting up less than two yards per carry. Ouch!

As a result the likable McClendon is being pulled in favor of Ebell for the game against the Stamps.

It is the right decision by Maciocia who knows fully that his run game's shortcomings aren't solely on the shoulders of a vastly improved offensive line, even with the current injury to the steady Dan Comiskey.

The Eskimos though, have to make a philosophical commitment to running the ball, because it has a psychological effect on the offensive line.

"When you run the ball you get the opportunity to attack as an offensive lineman. You're setting the tempo," said former Eskimo offensive lineman Blake Dermott on this issue.

Setting the tempo on the ground could help lessen opponent's defensive linemen from teeing off and going after quarterback Ricky Ray.

This was the very scenario we saw last weekend against the 'Riders that resulted in several turnovers that paved the way in the debacle in Regina.

VOTE ON TUESDAY

In an interview with NHL agent Ritch Winter on the Team 1260 yesterday, he implied that it was his understanding that Daryl Katz the Edmonton billionaire is prepared to invest significant money (some sources have suggested in the order of about $100 million) in a new downtown facility.

This is obviously contingent upon Katz acquiring the Oilers from the Edmonton Investors Group and given that the right deal is in place with the city.

With the vote coming down on Tuesday and Katz needing 66.6% of the vote to accept his offer of 170M +, it goes without saying that the EIG will eventually have to make their intentions public for a new building if they do not opt to sell to Katz.

You have to figure that EIG chairman Cal Nichols and his group may look at a cash call to help fund their inevitable contribution for a new facility if they keep the team.

Winter also suggested that he was led to believe that Katz was invited to make an offer on the Oilers by the team.

It will be very interesting to watch this all unfold, though I do think that the EIG is unlikely to sell at this time.

PENNER PRODUCES

It says here that the newest member of the Edmonton Oilers, Dustin Penner, will outscore Ryan Smyth over the next three years.

Penner is Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish's type of player.

He competes and wins the majority of one-on-one battles and is going to get top billing on the left side on the Oilers top line, meaning he will get a lot of looks from emerging star Ales Hemsky.

Penner also has a better set of hands than Smyth and will see significant powerplay time.


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