Keep the ball in Ricky's hands

BOB STAUFFER

, Last Updated: 7:39 AM ET

All things considered a 3-4-1 start to the season for the Edmonton Eskimos is not terrible, considering the amount of injuries that the Green and Gold have had.

Had head coach Danny Maciocia's squad taken care of business in a couple of short-yardage situations they might be 5-2-1.

Then again if Hamilton's Chris Bauman hauled in a long bomb from Jason Maas the Eskies might be 2-5-1.

But, the fact is, injuries aside, the Eskimos have shown lack of killer instinct through the first half of the season, and the short yardage game has let them down - especially in losses to Calgary and Saskatchewan.

This just isn't about the execution by the players.

Eskimos offensive co-ordinator Jacques Chapdelaine has to accept some of the responsibility for bringing in Stefan Lefors and Steven Jyles on 2nd- and 3rd-down short yardage situations.

Starting quarterback Ricky Ray is undeniably the Eskimos best offensive player as any opposition player will tell you. So why would you take the ball out of his hands?

In the last two seasons when Maciocia was the Eskimos O.C., Ray ran for nine touchdowns each season, the majority on quarterback sneaks.

Clearly, he knows what he is doing in these situations.

Ray has also been remarkably healthy as an Eskimo, and QB's are rarely hurt on short-yardage plays.

So again, why take the ball out of Ray's hands.

Lefors and Jyles, both have upside, but at this stage neither can carry Ray's jock.

Do you think for one second a cold quarterback can come in and do a better job then arguably the best player in the league?

I think not!

If Chapdelaine is looking to get Lefors or Jyles some field time and experience why not give one of them a series to work with, maybe in the second quarter of each game?

As it stands now he is exerting more pressure on his young quarterback at the expense of the one player that the entire organization, and for that matter the city, has confidence in.

It is perplexing, really.

FAMILY TIES

Chapdelaine's son Matt is one of four members of the Alberta Golden Bears football team who had fathers play in the Canadian Football League.

The Bears, who are in Red Deer today for an exhibition tilt against the Calgary Dinos, also have Danny Bass Jr., Damon Fraietta and Bryan Marshall on the team.

Bass Jr. is the son of CFL Hall of Fame linebacker Danny Bass, and is an All-Canadian candidate after leading the Bears with 60 tackles and eight sacks last season.

Fraietta (ex-Eskimo Emilio's son) was Alberta's leading receiver last season with 36 receptions for 450 yards and will be a focal part of new offensive co-ordinator and ex-Eskimo Rick Walters' offence.

Chapdelaine fought through an injury-plagued freshman season last year and should see more action at receiver. Marshall, the son of current Winnipeg defensive co-ordinator Greg Marshall, will start at centre.

Alberta left tackle Simeon Rottier, a 6-foot-6, 285-pound behemoth, has the biggest upside from a CFL perspective.

The Bears open their regular season next Friday in Saskatoon against perennial conference power Saskatchewan.

DERBY DAY HAS ARRIVED

The biggest horse racing day of the year takes place today at Northlands Park with the Canadian Derby and it should be a kicker.

Officials are expecting upwards of 12,000 fans with the largest purses in the country on the line at $300,000.

With the commercial success a couple of years ago with the film Seabiscuit and an aggressive marketing plan from Horse Racing Alberta, the industry has made strides with a younger demographic.

With a yearly economic impact of about $300 million to the province of Alberta, there is no question that horse racing is relevant.


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