Esks running into problems?
By GERRY MODDEJONGE, QMI Agency
|Eskimos receiver Brandon James gets run out of bounds by Stampeders Junior Turner (left) and Sam Scott (right) at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton, Alta., Friday. (AMBER BRACKEN/QMI Agency)
EDMONTON - While the Calgary Stampeders ran up an early lead, the Edmonton Eskimos ran into a brick wall.
Trailing 24-0 early in Friday’s 37-22 preseason loss at Commonwealth Stadium, the Eskimos’ ground attack ground to a halt with just 35 yards on 10 carries.
Although each team passed for 280 yards, the Stampeders dominated in the rushing department with 98 more yards than Edmonton.
“We were playing to win this game,” said Eskimos head coach Kavis Reed. “Based on the score, we had to pretty much abandon the running game.
“We intermittently tried to work it in, but it didn’t work. That’s not a testament to our ability to run or not to run the football. When you’re behind, it is very difficult to really focus on the run game.”
Especially when they had to focus on getting their own personnel into the game before shoring up their roster by the league’s cut-down deadline the next day.
“I think we did a very good job (of getting players into situations we wanted to see),” Reed said.
“We knew there were some positions up for grabs. I thought the coaches did a very good job of getting guys in.”
While the second half was a battle of the backups, the first two quarters saw starting quarterbacks Ricky Ray and Henry Burris duel to a 27-14 halftime score.
“Down 21-0 in the first quarter was a difficult situation, but it’s preseason ... it was an opportunity to see whether or not this team had the resiliency that we wanted to have,” said Reed.
“In an 18-game season, you’re not going to be leading every game. You’re going to have to come from behind.
“I was very pleased to see these guys did not quit, that they came back right before the half and made it a football game.”
With the pieces in place, the Eskimos are left with decisions on how best to use their Canadian talent, ratio-wise.
Whether that means going with two imports on the offensive line, a three-four formation on defence with a Canadian at linebacker and nose tackle, or whether or not to start a non-import or an American at running back remains to be seen.
“That’s something that we’ll study a little bit more,” said Reed.
“When we start dealing with the ratio aspect of it, we still have a lot of flexibility.”
Just because training camp is over, it doesn’t mean there still won’t be ongoing battles for starting spots and movement within the ranks.
“We expect that there’s still going to be some competition within the 46 guys that we have and some of the guys that we’re going to keep on the practice roster as well,” Reed said.
“There are a few spots that we still have to solidify that are not etched in stone yet, but for the most part, we can field our team for next Sunday.”
NEXT UP: The Eskimos will have had two days off before getting back to practice on Tuesday afternoon, while the Roughriders — who finished their exhibition schedule last Wednesday — were back on the field Sunday.