Lines drawn for Eskimo plans to make CFL playoffs
By GERRY MODDEJONGE, QMI Agency
|Edmonton's Brandon Lang celebrates a sack with Almondo Sewell, right, during to the Edmonton Eskimos CFL game against the Saskatchewan Roughriders at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton on Saturday, October 13, 2012. CODIE MCLACHLAN/EDMONTON SUN QMI AGENCY
EDMONTON - The line has been drawn.
Now, the only question left for the Edmonton Eskimos is if it will extend all the way to the CFL post-season.
On one side of it is an offensive line that hasn't allowed a sack in the past two games, and on the other side is a defensive line that put more pressure on Darian Durant on Saturday than any other front four the Saskatchewan Roughriders quarterback has seen all season.
“I don't think the offensive line is getting enough credit,” Eskimos head coach Kavis Reed said following Saturday's 37-20 win. “That's two weeks in a row that our quarterback hasn't been picked up off the ground by an offensive lineman.
“When you have that kind of protection, a quarterback like Kerry Joseph is going to make plays. And he's doing that.”
The Roughriders O-line, complete with top free-agent acquisition Brendon LaBatte and first-overall 2012 draft pick Ben Heenan at guard, can't boast the same.
Durant was sacked three times, which were among the few of his snaps that didn't result in a tally in the hurry column of the stats sheet.
And the Eskimos D-line did it without top pass-rusher Marcus Howard or fellow starting defensive end Julius Williams in the lineup.
They are just two casualties on a unit plagued by injury all season long.
“The defensive line is a microcosm of this football team,” Reed said. “We battle adversity, and they're a determined group.
“They're focused on getting pressure on the quarterback and making certain we stop the run. The objective was to make certain that we control Kory Sheets and keep him under 100 yards.”
Which they did, giving up 77 on 12 carries and keeping the 1,000-yard rusher out of the end zone.
“That group is a determined group despite the injuries we have. We're starting to get healthy for the most part and this is pretty much the group wer're going to ride with for the rest of the season,” Reed said of a D-line featuring Shawn Lemon and newcomer Brandon Lang in a rotation on the edges with non-import Jermaine Reid.
But it was Reid and defensive tackles Almondo Sewell and Don Oramasionwu coming up with sacks Saturday.
As the only starting D-lineman to avoid injury this season — as well as all three previous years of his career, Oramasionwu recorded his fourth sack Saturday, celebrating like he was firing a 50-caliber machine gun.
“I'm just bringing the guns out,” smiled Oramasionwu, whose upper arms are large enough to legally sit in forward-facing car seats. “I just start shooting, anybody can get it. So it's just an ambush.”
And while the Eskimos defence was running over the Roughriders offensive line, running back Hugh Charles cruised to 152 yards on 17 carries with a touchdown.
But is that better than not allowing a sack?
“I'll say 100 only because sometimes you get a weak sack or something where they guess right and they get you for one,” said veteran Eskimos center Kyle Koch. “They're both pretty big, I like to have both.
“(When you) run the ball, it helps everything.”