EDMONTON -- Cory Boyd knows what he wants for his 25th birthday.
A regulation Canadian Football League football. Not just one, but plenty. Truth be told, enough of them to help get the Argonauts to what would be their fourth victory of the 2010 season on Friday night at Commonwealth Stadium versus the Edmonton Eskimos.
The rookie running back had his streak of rushing for at least 100 yards broken at three games by the Montreal Alouettes a week ago, and he had an honest answer when asked how he gets back to 100 yards again.
"I guess we have to feed me a little more and get the run game going early in the game," Boyd, the CFL's leading rusher with 484 yards, said after the Argos finished their walkthrough on Thursday afternoon.
"I like the competition, having the target on your back. If you don't have that, then what are you really playing for?"
The situation seems ripe for Boyd to have his best game in the CFL. The Eskimos, still not completely sure of themselves even after registering their first win of the season against B.C., have given up an average of 160.8 yards on the ground per game, the most in the league. Boyd's highest tally was two weeks ago versus the Lions, when he bashed through the defence for 148 yards on 19 carries.
We only can assume the Argos plan to exploit the Eskimos' weak defence against the run. When a reporter tried to ask Argos head coach Jim Barker that question, Barker cut the query off, saying that "the game will dictate that," before abruptly ending his media scrum.
Well, whatever happens, the Eskimos certainly are ready for Boyd, and will try to use the same tactic employed by the Montreal Alouettes in a lopsided win against Toronto in Week 5. Boyd continuously was surrounded by Alouettes, which scared the Argos off, and he got the ball just nine times for 53 yards.
"The big emphasis this week has been running to the ball and that is going to be crucial, especially in this game when you have a talented player like that," Eskimos defensive tackle Adam Braidwood said. "He is hard to rattle. He has that tough demeanour. He plays the whole game hard, and we're going to have to him high and low, and we're going to have to do it together."
What could work in the Argos' favour is the Eskimos have been giving up big plays when teams rush, the latest being a 69-yard gallop by the Lions' Jamal Robertson as week ago. Boyd's longest run was for 41 yards, which came against the Lions.
"We have our work cut out for us," Edmonton head coach Richie Hall said. "We have given up some chunks of yards, so we have to minimize that. We try to make a team one-dimensional and that means taking away the run. It's always in our general game plan."
If the Eskimos key on Boyd, and they will, the New Jersey native welcomes it.
"We knew we were going to be underdogs, and somebody was going to have to step and be a leader," Boyd said. "We have a young team, our quarterback is doing the best he can, and he is doing a good job. I always put that chip on my shoulder as though I am a leader. I want to be that top guy."
And if Boyd gets across the goal line for a touchdown? Don't expect a silly birthday celebration that would be popular on YouTube.
"Oh, no," Boyd said. "Just pray to the Lord and give the ball to the ref. All that extra dancing and celebrating, I think that takes away from your teammates. That's not me."
Boyd hasn't played in a game on his birthday before. A victory would be special.
"Hopefully we have a win and I go out with the fellas and have a glass of champagne or some wine," Boyd said. "That would be nice."