Top pass picker a hit with 'Gades

Ottawa Renegades DB Korey Banks jokes during practice Monday, Aug. 8, 2005, at Frank Clair Stadium....

Ottawa Renegades DB Korey Banks jokes during practice Monday, Aug. 8, 2005, at Frank Clair Stadium. (Ottawa Sun/Jason Ransom)

BARRE CAMPBELL -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 8:05 AM ET

Renegades defensive back Korey Banks has been very good on the football field. And he's great at filling notebooks, too.

The Mouth from the South (he's a South Florida guy) was at his best again after practice yesterday, speaking about how the "for-real" Renegades, with a record of 4-3 heading into Thursday's home game against Saskatchewan, have become a force in the CFL.

"We're getting an identity, and now I know we can play with anybody in the league," said Banks who leads the CFL with six interceptions. "We expect to win. The media can say that we're the underdogs, but in our minds, we're no more underdogs."

The Renegades' defence has legitimate reason to be confident, having allowed just one touchdown in each of the last two road games.

The unit has become the main reason the Renegades have ascended to a share of first place with Toronto.

Consider this: After seven games, the Renegades are runaway league leaders in the giveaway/takeaway differential.

23 TURNOVERS

The Ottawa defence and special teams coverage unit have forced 23 turnovers (nine interceptions, eight fumbles and six on downs), while the team has given up the ball 10 times. That differential of 13 is six better than Montreal's. And they're 23 better than Saskatchewan, this week's opponent.

"We haven't played everybody yet, but I know when people look on our schedule and see the Renegades, they're going to stop saying it's an automatic win," said Banks. "After they're finished playing us, they're going to know that the ice tub is their friend. They're going to be in it, because we're a physical, fast team..

"We don't want to hurt anybody -- no injuries. But we're going to bang you around, because we have a lot of loose, wild players out there that just want to hit you."

Banks told a story yesterday about a trip to a mall in Hamilton last week when he came across a person selling Ticats tickets.

The seller, not knowing Banks was a member of the Renegades, told him that Ottawa was a terrible team and that Hamilton would get its first win of the season.

"As long as people keep thinking that, keep sleeping," said Banks. "They can sleep all year, but they'll wake up real soon."

With six interceptions, Banks has surpassed the franchise record of four picks in one season, set by Alphonso Roundtree in 2002.

Banks said he's looking to add many more to his total.

"It's not a sign of confidence, but I just find football easy for me because I've been playing since I was seven years old," said the former Miami Dolphin. "If I can stay focused on every play and not make mistakes, I know I can get a pick every game if there are no injuries."

NO BAD BLOOD: Renegades import OL Morris Unutoa doesn't expect Saskatchewan players to go after him in Thursday's game after Riders DL Nate Davis claimed he suffered a knee injury due to a Unutoa cut block two weeks ago in Regina. "It was just a normal cut block," said Unutoa. "I wasn't trying to hurt him. I was just trying to play hard and play clean. I'm not a dirty player."

GRID BITS: Coach Joe Paopao will decide today on roster changes for Thursday's game. On the verge of returning from injury are LB Gerald Vaughn, DB Crance Clemons, and PK Matt Kellett ... The league will review Saturday's fight between Ottawa DL Jerome Haywood and Hamilton OL Marwan Hage, but it's unlikely suspensions will be issued. If there's a fine, Renegades DL Anthony Collier said members of the Ottawa defence will chip in to pay the penalty.


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