Esks' halftime heroics

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:45 AM ET

The Edmonton Eskimos mid-term report card is full of surprising marks.

Ten games into an 18-game regular-season schedule, the Esks are tied for second-place in the West Division at 6-4 with Calgary.

Very few so-called football experts predicted the Green and Gold would have this type of success with 30 new players in camp this season compared to last year.

Here is Sun Media's mid-term football report card, even though it comes one game after the official halfway mark due to the hectic week surrounding the Labour Day series.

GRADES

QUARTERBACK

RICKY RAY: A

The best quarterback in the league. Period.

Averaging 331 passing yards per game, Ray is completing 65% of his passes.

He's also a very effective runner capable of leaving top linebackers (i.e. JoJuan Armour) grasping at air.

At least six times through 10 games he has run for at least nine yards on a carry.

The only area he needs to improve is his interception total.

Ray has thrown nine picks in 10 games. In comparison, Anthony Calvillo entered yesterday's game with five picks.

COACH'S COMMENT:

Most satisfying aspect of Ray's game: "His understanding of our offence and sticking with the game plan," said Edmonton head coach Danny Maciocia.

RUNNING BACK

AJ HARRIS: B

Any coach in the league should be pleased with a running back who produces a 5.9-yard average per carry like Harris.

But Harris is also showing improvement as a blocker and is dangerous as a receiver. After leading both teams with 147 receiving yards last Friday, Harris is averaging 11.2-yards per catch.

COACH'S COMMENT:

Where Harris needs to improve: "Probably consistency. I think he knows that," said Maciocia.

OFFENSIVE LINE

B

A rough outing last Friday : giving up five sacks to Calgary : shouldn't make the grade plummet.

The O-line entered the tilt giving up the second fewest sacks in the league with 14 over nine games.

A dangerous running game in the first half is also a major credit to the front five.

Totally revamped to start this year : Joe McGrath (new position), Patrick Kabongo (new position) and newcomers Garrick Jones, Calvin Armstrong and John Comiskey : this line will now be judged on how it rebounds from last week's game.

COACH'S COMMENT:

Most satisfying aspect of the line: "The physicality they bring every week to the game," said Maciocia.

Where does the line need to improve: "I want us to get better every single week. There are still certain areas where we can get better at regarding the run game, the pass game," added Maciocia.

RECEIVERS

B

After last Friday's performance, this unit doesn't deserve an A.

Kelly Campbell can't have three drops in a game.

Kamau Peterson can't fumble the ball in the fourth quarter.

But Peterson is still the top non-import receiver in the game right now.

Fred Stamps is having the break-out year he needs (592 receiving yards for a 15.5-yard average per catch).

And the Esks are on pace for three receivers : Stamps, Peterson and Campbell : to be over 1,050 yards for the year.

COACH'S COMMENT:

Most satisfied with: "The camaraderie they have built and up until last (game) the progress they made," said receivers coach Mike Kelly.

Where improvement is needed: "Unspoken communication with the quarterback - the receiver and the quarterback reading the same coverage and seeing the same weakness in the defence," said Kelly.


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