EDMONTON - They fight like cats and dogs.
Although the Edmonton Eskimos are coming in as favourites against the B.C. Lions Friday at Commonwealth Stadium, their head coach isn't expecting a walk in the off-leash park.
“We approach this game with the optics that we are the underdogs and we have a lot to prove,” said Eskimos head coach Kavis Reed. “And we need to go out and play a football game where we are executing from the start and we're executing at the end.
“Our consistency in executing will give us a good result.”
Which is something they didn't get in losses to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and Montreal Alouettes the last two weeks, while they look to end the two-game winning streak against a 1-6 club of cats that are looking to claw their way out of the West Division's litter box.
“They are 1-6 by record, but the way they play and the performances they have put on so far, they are not a 1-6 team,” Reed said. “We're not approaching them that way.
“Historically speaking, Wally's team, when it starts slowly he finds a way of getting them back on track and I expect the same this year.”
What the coach doesn't expect is the same result as the last time the Lions were in town, dropping a 33-17 decision to his Eskimos.
“It helps beating anyone (but) this game is different,” Reed said. “What we did against B.C. four weeks ago is not going to translate into what we'll see this week.
“B.C. is an improved team, B.C. is a very hungry team, B.C. is a well-prepared team so we can't approach it as if we have already defeated them therefore we're going to be gift-wrapped the game. We have to go out there and execute in order to have a chance.”
The Lions aren't the only ones who have changed, considering the Eskimos head into Friday with fresh faces at all four import receiver spots.
“Definitely, it helps that we beat them earlier in the season but they're a different team than they were earlier,” said Eskimos quarterback Ricky Ray. “We're a different team, different personnel, so it's kind of a new challenge for both teams.”
Especially considering the Eskimos 5-0 start to the season is a two-game losing streak behind them now.
“We've got to come into this game against B.C. with the mindset of 0-0, trying to get this win going into the bye week,” Eskimos running back Jerome Messam said of the July 16 victory over his former club. “It helps a little bit, but it's different every week. You never know in the CFL, anything could happen.”
Like all of a sudden it appears defences are able to exploit a weakness in the Eskimos running game.
“I wouldn't say we saw any weaknesses, we'll go into it with a regular mindset, just practise hard, tighten up a few things and we should be all right,” said Messam, who was held to -3 yards on four carries against Montreal jto close out a 10-day road trip. “It was tiring being away from home, but definitely for myself a first time on a road trip like that. It taught me a lot and it was a good experience.”
“I guess, we're not in panic mode or anything right now with the two losses. We're just trying to basically continue to work hard and be sound at practice.”