Eskimos QB Kerry Joseph says team's 'backs against the wall'

Kerry Joseph chats with head coach Kavis Reed during a recent practice. (Perry Mah, QMI Agency)

Kerry Joseph chats with head coach Kavis Reed during a recent practice. (Perry Mah, QMI Agency)

CON GRIWKOWSKY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:13 PM ET

For the fourth straight week, the Edmonton Eskimos will have a different starting quarterback.

Head coach Kavis Reed has already made it clear that, barring injury, Kerry Joseph will be the starter for the rest of the year.

At kickoff on Friday night’s game, Joseph will already have been 39 years old for a day.

Despite the fact there’s some aging sportwriters who have kids older than that, in football terms that’s getting up there.

“I’m not looking beyond this game,” said Joseph, who’s looking to put his experience to good use.

“It’s a big game for us, for this organization where we are right now. Our backs are against the wall. My focus is just being the best I can to help this team, to get this offence moving and to put some points up.”

That’s a similar plan to the last time Joseph started, back on Sept. 15 in Hamilton.

Nobody in their right mind would suggest it was Joseph’s fault the Eskimos suffered their worst defeat of the year, 51-8, against a team that will be at Commonwealth on Friday.

“What happened in Hamilton a couple of weeks ago happened,” said Joseph. “We don’t even think about that. This is a new opportunity for us. If we sit here and dwell on what happened in Hamilton, we’re short-changing ourselves. It’s a game we have at home and a game that we need.”

Joseph has been recuperating from the injury he suffered in Hamilton as Steven Jyles and Matt Nichols took their turns as starters.

It’s hard to imagine things could get worse than they did at Never Win Stadium three weeks back.

“Whether I’ve been No. 1 or whether I’ve been getting over this injury and being No. 3 (two weeks ago), the preparation has been the same for me,” said Joseph. “My focus level hasn’t changed.”

What has changed is that Joseph will be the man handed the reins as the team tries to snap a five-game losing streak.

“The biggest thing for us as a group is having a sense of urgency, knowing what’s at stake here and what we need to get done on Friday night,” said Joseph.

“The energy level will be high because we’ve lost five straight games.

“To be honest with you guys, it’s all about Friday night for me and helping my team be successful and come out with a victory. Anything else beyond Friday … nobody can predict the future, so I don’t worry about anything that far down the road.”

As a veteran performer, Joseph has been in many sticky situations.

He’s quite articulate about what the stakes are. The how part is why these guys play the game.

And a big part of that is for the offence to stop shooting itself in the foot.

“We have to stop killing ourselves in crucial situations,” said Joseph. “We’re putting our own selves behind the eight-ball in situations where we kill ourselves on drives because of a penalty, a missed assignment and not executing the play.”

Which is where head coach Kavis Reed stepped in Monday, not-so-gently reminding the players that they have to pay attention to the small details.

“Coach is the type of guy — he’s very anal, he’s very energetic,” said Joseph. “It’s just going to bring more energy to the offence, that’s all. He’s a very football-savvy guy. He understands both sides of the football. Him being instrumental in our game plan is going to help us.”

Whatever role the players had in getting Marcus Crandell busted down to quarterbacks coach may be a signal to the players about their own future prospects.

“He’s taken a lot of criticism but, guess what, Marcus doesn’t play the game,” said Joseph. “Marcus doesn’t jump offside. Marcus doesn’t miss a throw. We do that as a group offensively.

“It’s our job to take that criticism off him by going out by getting a victory and perform offensively.”

con.griwkowsky@sunmedia.ca


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