Where's the buzz?

TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 1:36 PM ET

There will be 30,000-plus who go to it. But none of them are going to it talking about it.

Has there ever been less buzz for an Edmonton Eskimos game than this one? Maybe it's that hockey is back. Maybe it's the World Masters Games, Klondike Days, holidays and time at the lake.

But mostly, I suspect, it's the Tiger-Cats and the long list of powder-puff games.

Winnipeg, Ottawa, Winnipeg, Ottawa. Hamilton. How many free spaces can you get on one bingo card?

What we're dealing with here is a severe case of 'The Season Hasn't Started Yet.' Whatever it is, if the team is like the town, the Eskimos should be ripe for the picking.

There wasn't much of a buzz for the last home game either and the Eskimos were definitely ripe for that one. Real ripe. As in rancid.

The eventual win over the Blue Bombers wasn't easy to file under 'Defending The Turf.'

"Two weeks ago we played a 0-3 team and almost lost and the next week that team scored 52 points and beat the Montreal Alouettes,'' said coach Danny Maciocia. "I can think of no better place to win your first game than in Commonwealth Stadium against a very good football team,'' he said of the 0-4 Tiger-Cats going into this one.

"This is a team which was 9-8-1 last year. We were 9-9. They were a better team than we were. I think they're a dangerous football team.''

But no buzz, coach. No sizzle.

There's no fizz in this drink.

"We've spent the week trying to create our own buzz,'' said the coach. "We've spent the week challenging one another. I told the team today, 'Don't believe what you read.' You'll appreciate that,'' he said. You mean that line where I wrote 'Edmonton by 33'?

"The last thing you want to do is walk into the locker-room and explain how you dropped a game at home,'' said Maciocia.

Ricky Ray hasn't had to do that often. The quarterback is 18-3 starting in Commonwealth Stadium, including two playoff wins and the 2002 Grey Cup loss. Ray says no problem. He's buzzed.

"For us there's a buzz for every game,'' said Ray, who looked like he was buzzed on something grown in Mexico the last time he played on the grass at Commonwealth. "I know a lot of people are saying we haven't beaten anybody. But you can't just walk out and beat anybody in this league.''

The truth is, though, that the Eskimos played great in their first 2 1/2 games and haven't looked worth a damn since.

This has looked like a team that hasn't really been able to get up for either of their do-over games with Winnipeg and Ottawa.

"We don't worry about anybody else and their record. Our concern is our team,'' says Ed Hervey.

"We're concerned with what we're doing. If we go out and play the best game we can play, not many teams are going to beat us. That's no knock on Hamilton. That goes for everybody.

"We're going to try to go out and play the best game we can play. We're not looking past Hamilton. The idea is to win the games you are supposed to win.

"This is one game we're supposed to win. You have to play every team at least twice. We felt we were fortunate getting some of these teams at the beginning of the schedule because they're going to be vastly better at the end of the season.''

Bruce Beaton says players read the papers, listen to the radio and watch TV.

"If we're playing B.C., Saskatchewan or Calgary, we'll be reading all the hype and feeling the buzz around the city. That makes it easy. What you have to do on a week like this is make it internal.''

Beaton says a smart football team will tell itself some truths before taking the field.

"When I first saw the schedule all the bells went off. I saw what we had early and I thought it was great because it would have Ricky Ray a chance to get acclimatized again. But there has been a surprise every week now. If we don't go out there with our 'A' game, we'll be the surprise of the week.''

Nice try, guys. I still can't get up for the game. I still say Edmonton by 33.


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