EDMONTON - The Edmonton Eskimos may need to visit the wonderful wizard to find the answer to their problem.
While they already know how to get home, it’s how to get a win there that they need to figure out.
Lately it hasn’t been the yellow-brick road that’s the problem, it’s when they play in Commonwealth Stadium that they run into a yellow-brick wall, losing their last three.
“We have to start fast. We don’t score a lot of points at home, recently,” said head coach Kavis Reed.
Since even before the bye week, he has watched the home losses pile up, beginning with 36-1 to B.C., 30-20 to Calgary and 34-21 to the Montreal Alouettes on Friday night.
And that’s not counting the one-point win they barely edged out against the Toronto Argonauts in Week 5.
“Since the second half of the Toronto game, our execution at home has been very, very disappointing,” said Reed. “We don’t start fast for whatever reason and that’s something that I have to very keenly look into.
“That’s something I have to study very carefully and see what we can do about it.”
Energy, execution and concentration levels didn’t raise red flags over the week of practice, but it was a different story in the first half of Friday’s game, where the Eskimos trailed 18-1 at one point.
“Those are things where as a head coach you have to make certain you do certain things to hopefully get those guys in a rhythm,” Reed said. “And I’m culpable for that.”
Just like he is for finding an answer to the riddle of why the Eskimos can only win on the road as of late. The same club that won their first three at home have now lost their last three, giving them a .500 record there compared to 4-2 on the road.
“That’s been the most frustrating part, is we haven’t played well at home the last few weeks and that’s where you should play well,” said quarterback Ricky Ray. “(Friday) night was another one of those situations where we didn’t execute.
“Especially when we got into the score zone, we just couldn’t convert second downs to keep drives going to come away with touchdowns.”
The Eskimos running game showed flashes of brilliance, but they ended up being a flash in the pan.
“Especially starting slow against Montreal, it’s hard to come back and get the victory,” said running back Jerome Messam. “I wouldn’t say it’s tough for us to play at home, we’ve just got to lock in and defend home-field.”
Especially with playoffs fast approaching now that two-thirds of the season are behind them.
“We’ve got to win when we’re here, especially if we hope to get a home playoff game here. For the Western Final, we’ve definitely got to defend home turf,” said Messam. “I wouldn’t say we’ve had any difficulty winning at home, we just haven’t won so that’s what it’s been lately.”