Ray quick on the release

CON GRIWKOWSKY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:26 PM ET

HAMILTON — Raise your hand, everybody who’s yelled at Ricky Ray:

“Throw the (bad word) ball.”

Thought so.

Well, here’s some good news for those who always knew Ray’s ability to throw the ball is second-to-none.

For the past two weeks, the Eskimos have perfected their quick-release passing game.

It’s no state secret that the Eskimos offence has been much more effective in its last two outings and last week’s win over Hamilton showed the home fans how much a little tweak can make a difference.

“We’re getting the ball out, getting the reads and spreading the ball pretty good,” said Ray. “It helps the offensive line and protection. They’ve been playing real good the last two weeks anyway, but when you can get the ball out real quick, it helps even more.

“We’ve been running the ball pretty effectively as well. It’s a good combination for us right now.”

The added bonus with the quick release is the less a quarterback gets hit, the longer his career lasts. Just ask Anthony Calvillo.

“He’s by far the best in the league,” said Ray. “The way he engineers it is pretty good. They’ve been able to win a lot of football games and put up a lot of good number. We definitely have that in our game plan.

“We just have to keep executing it, make good reads and get the ball out. That’ll give us opportunities to go deep, to be able to take that deep shot.”

What it’s done is create more space for the receivers.

“It’s big when you get the ball out quick for those guys to make something happen,” said Ray. “That’s what they’re getting better at, too — making the first guy miss and picking up extra yards.”

The guys in the up-front protection racket appreciate the fact that the quicker the quarterback gets rid of the ball, the better it is for them.

“It makes sense,” said centre Aaron Fiacconi. “It helps us tremendously but a good running game is helping us out as well.”

And that has translated into a quarterback who can not only more effectively deliver the ball, but who has been put in a position where his talents are fully utilized.

“Ricky seems a little more comfortable, and when he’s comfortable, he’s going to do some good things,” said Fiacconi. “It’s been clicking, man, it’s been clicking. Ricky’s a real smart quarterback. He’s cerebral. He understands defences real well. He knows where to attack and he’s been given a lot more options. Getting rid of the ball quicker has been great. He doesn’t have to run for his life.

“We’re getting first downs. Time of possession is up. All these things are huge positives. We need to continue that, build our consistency. That’s Eskimos football and that’s the offence we’re used to seeing around here.”

The O-line has gone through its own adjustment period and turmoil over the last month and anything to take the heat off while the new players adjust is welcome.

“Any time the quarterback can get the ball out of his hands quick, it helps everybody,” said offensive line coach Tim Prinsen. “It’s never a bad thing.”

And, as Prinsen points out, the effectiveness comes at little cost.

“We’re running our same protections we were running when we got here,” said Prinsen. “Something’s working and we’re just blocking the best we can.”

One steamboat, two steamboats ...

con.griwkowsky@sunmedia.ca


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