Cheer up, Jason

On the starting quarterback chart, Jason Maas has thrown the most interceptions (nine) and the...

On the starting quarterback chart, Jason Maas has thrown the most interceptions (nine) and the fewest touchdowns (five) among the regular pivots in the league. (Winnipeg Sun File Photo)

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 9:31 AM ET

Jason Maas is not a happy camper in Hamilton -- but he can expect phone calls of encouragement from his old Edmonton teammates in the very near future.

At the halfway point of the CFL season, the former Eskimos pivot is not coming close to living up to the expectations that were placed on his shoulders to start the season.

The Tiger-Cats have the worst record in the league at 2-7 and are among the bottom three teams in most key offensive categories -- a sharp contrast to the Grey Cup predictions in June.

MAAS RACKING UP THE PICKS

On the starting quarterback chart, Maas has thrown the most interceptions (nine) and the fewest touchdowns (five) among the regular pivots in the league.

And the lowest point to date arrived over the weekend, when he threw for just 152 yards with two interceptions in a 20-2 thumping by the Argos.

"This is the worst feeling I've ever had after a ball game and it's not sitting well with me," Maas told the Toronto Sun after losing Saturday.

"Any time I felt like I could see a guy open, I couldn't make the throw for some reason.

"It's extremely frustrating to me and I'm sick to my stomach about it, and I'm sure a lot of people are and I don't blame them. I have big shoulders, I can take this and it's all on me."

Across the country, his friends with the Eskimos are following his trials and tribulations.

"I noticed him giving that interview (to reporters) and I noticed his bottom lip was quivering a little bit," said Edmonton head coach Danny Maciocia. "He is just a standup guy. He takes responsibility for what is going on.

"How can you not care for him and how can you not pull for him? But the last time I checked, this is a team game.

"And it is not one guy that is going to win or one guy that is going to lose it."

Maciocia has quietly spoken to Maas on the phone every week. His message to Maas this week is pretty simple.

"My message to him is sometimes it is not working harder that solves problems, it is working smarter," said Maciocia.

"He's the type of guy that will probably go in the weight room and try to bench press 225 pounds 30 times, but that is not necessarily working smarter. Just play around your strengths and do the things that come natural."

RAY ALSO STAYS IN TOUCH

Ricky Ray has also kept in contact with Maas, speaking with him every couple of weeks.

Ray will probably call his old backup pivot before the Esks battle the Lions on Friday and Hamilton travels to Regina on Saturday.

"It is tough for me as a friend to watch him because he works so hard and he puts so much into it that he deserves better than that," said Ray, who's about to offer some friendly advice.

"Don't think that you have to be Superman out there.

"There are 11 other guys out there with you."


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