EDMONTON - Things may have settled down for Steven Jyles following last week’s three-ring media circus, conducted by Ricky ‘Ringling’ Ray in his return to Edmonton.
But the Eskimos’ new quarterback is looking for it to get even quieter still when they take to the road against the Saskatchewan Roughriders on Sunday (5 p.m., TSN).
“There was a lot of hype in this ballgame here,” Jyles said of what turned out to be a 19-15 win over the Toronto Argonauts last Saturday. “But we played a hard-fought game and came away with a victory.”
It was about as close to a playoff atmosphere as Jyles will ever see this early in a season.
“As far as the experience and the expectation and the way they pumped it up, it was a big ball game for us,” he said. “It was promoted as if it was a playoff game and we seized the moment.”
Not that he’s expecting this week to be anticlimactic.
“This is another big ballgame for me, going into Saskatchewan where I played these guys last year in Toronto and we lost,” Jyles said. “Matter of fact, I had a pick-six to seal the game. So I’m looking forward to going back to Saskatchewan.”
After leaving Edmonton following the 2007 season, Jyles played in Regina for two years behind Darian Durant, who was named CFL offensive player of the week in a 43-16 victory over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats where he completed 25 of 34 passes for 390 yards and four touchdowns.
And that was on the road. This weekend, he will have the backing of Rider Nation behind him at Mosaic Stadium.
“It’s a great crowd. Everyone enjoys playing in Saskatchewan because it’s a college environment,” Jyles said. “They’re so close to the bench and they’re screaming and shouting and saying all kinds of things at you.
“So you take pleasure in making a play and hushing the crowd up. Then you can just look at those guys and laugh, but they’re a one-of-a-kind fan. Those guys out there in Saskatchewan, they believe in their team and they support their team 100%.”
Making it a tough place to play for a visiting quarterback.
“My favourite place to play a road game is probably Toronto because you don’t really hear the crowd there,” Jyles said. “Regina, it’s exciting to play there because of the noise, but it’s hard to communicate to your receivers and your offence at times.
“It’s hard to communicate with yourself sometimes. But once you extend drives and make plays, those guys kind of quiet down and that’s when it’s really exciting.”
For all the drama that has opened the season, don’t expect Eskimos head coach Kavis Reed to use the words ‘must-win’ anytime soon.
“I think the must-wins are the ones that are either going to put you in the Grey Cup or in the playoffs,” he said. “For us, (last week) was a very important football game — extremely important. I always contend with a young football team when they work very hard during the off-season and the preseason, you have to make certain that you have early success in order to keep them mentally engaged.”
Their mental state will be tested again with two games in five days, beginning in Regina Sunday before hosting the Winnipeg Blue Bombers on July 13.