EDMONTON - The idea is, the day after a particularly pathetic loss, that things won’t look quite so bad the next day.
And in the case of the Edmonton Eskimos, this is true.
I know this because hobby historian Jack Morrow says it’s so. Morrow earned big-time credibility the day the league was going to honour Don Matthews for the most coaching wins in CFL history when he said, “Not so fast, fellas, you’ve given him credit for more wins than he actually has,” and they called the whole deal off.
Morrow is here to tell the Eskimos’ offence this morning, as they go back to work following their 17-1 loss in Saskatchewan to prepare for Friday’s game against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, that they shouldn’t be lower than a snake’s belly in a wagon wheel rut.
Rise up! It’s not as bad as it looks!
That not one of the Edmonton quarterbacks has thrown a touchdown pass in either the pre-season or regular season isn’t anywhere near as bad as it looks.
“If you go back to the first part of the 1971 season, the Eskimos didn’t throw a regular season touchdown pass until Game 6,” Morrow reminded to the columnist.
That was the final year of what is remembered as the sad-sack ’60s of Eskimos football, when the team had a dominating defence and no quarterbacks.
“That was when Larry Lawrence connected with fullback Bob Houmard in this sixth game of the season,” further reminded Morrow to a guy who lived it on the beat.
“George McGowan became the first real receiver to catch a touchdown pass in the ninth game that season,” he said.
“Don Trull started the first five games that year and was cut after nine games with no touchdown passes in the 101 passes he’d thrown. Lawrence started the next five games and finished the season with three touchdown passes and 18 interceptions.”
He’s right. Clearly, it could be worse.
Sure, there’s the fact that, after two games, the Eskimos are dead last in the league offensively in just about every category with what they’re left with after the Ricky Ray trade: never-was Steve Jyles and has-been Kerry Joseph.
• Last in scoring with an average of 10 points per game.
• Last in net offence with an average of 217 yards.
• Last in net passing with an average of 181 yards.
• Last in net rushing with an average of 66 yards.
But this isn’t the only time in Eskimos history in which they’ve only managed to manufacture one point.
Heck, they did it two games in a row in 1971.
“They lost 31-1 at home vs Calgary on Aug. 11 and 11-1 in Vancouver on the 18th,” Morrow reminds.
“The Aug. 11 game marked the debut of Larry Lawrence at QB, relieving Don Trull in the 2nd quarter. They amassed only 94 yards of net offense, and the game ended a few Eskimo careers, most notably Jim Thomas and Terry Swarn.
“George McGowan was the only non-lineman on the offence that year who played the entire season. For the season opener, they had McGowan, Swarn and Henry King as receivers, and Thomas, Bob Houmard and Alan Pitcaithley as the running backs, with Trull and Rusty Clark as the QBs.”
Last year the Eskimos lost 36-1 at home to B.C.
“That’s when all the starting import receivers were out,” he refreshes the memory.
“They lost 27-1 in Vancouver on Sept. 13, 1997. In that game, a rookie named Marcus Crandell relieved Jimmy Kemp for his first extended spell at quarterback and got the team down to the 10-yard line before they turned the ball over.
Give ’em a break, he points out. They avoided the shutout.
“The last shutout against the Eskimos was in Taylor Field, in Regina, losing 40-0 on Aug. 15, 1976.
“The team was shut out twice in the first 5 games of 1967, losing the opener at home 20-0 to Winnipeg and 16-0 in Calgary.
“The Eskimos’ next shutout loss was 17-0 in Ottawa in 1969, when Charlie Fulton threw 6 interceptions. They weren’t blanked again until ‘76.”
Morrow is right. They’re just scratching the surface here.
ESKIMOS DRIVE CHART
1.EE 28, Jyles, punt.
2.EE 22, Jyles, punt.
3.EE 29, Jyles, punt.
4.EE 35, Jyles, punt.
5.EE 35, Jyles, punt.
6.EE 4, Joseph, punt.
7.SR 37, Joseph, fumble
8.EE 7, Joseph, safety touch.
9.EE 33, Joseph, end of half.
10. EE 35, Jyles, missed field goal.
11. EE 17, Jyles, punt.
12. EE 12, Jyles, punt.
13. EE 5, Jyles, punt.
14. EE 35, Joseph, punt.
15. EE 24, Joseph, interception.
16. EE 35, Joseph, turnover on downs.