Esks spoil QB's debut

JIM BENDER -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 10:56 AM ET

No Blue Bomber had hit the football field with more excited anticipation in recent memory -- from both fans and media alike.

Especially a player who had seen a grand total of 11 plays and that was only in a CFL pre-season game.

But there was 'Tennessee Tee' Martin taking the ball from centre as 22,087 faithful waited with bated breath at Canad Inns Stadium last night. The fact that the Edmonton Eskimos were the opponent was a mere sidebar to the Martin mania as the ex-NFLer tried to re-capture the glory of his college days when he led the Tennessee Volunteers to a national championship.

But the only fireworks came when the game was over.

STRUGGLED

Martin, who started in place of the injured Kevin Glenn (high ankle sprain), struggled mightily as the Eskimos spoiled his debut with a 27-8 victory.

"We lost but the game was fun," said Martin, who completed only 12 of 29 passes for 107 yards and one touchdown, with one interception. "It was everything I expected it to be. Edmonton was a really good team.

"They're fast up front, they get pressure on the quarterback and we knew that from watching them on tape from last week. Going into the game, we knew we were going to have to handle those guys up front. But they did what they did good and that's get to the quarterback. But we can be better. We'll see them again in two weeks and hopefully, we can have a better outcome."

Martin was sacked six times, although one was actually on an attempted run.

"I feel optimistic and I want to get better," he said. "I have no choice. That's not me at all. I don't know if it rates as one of my worst performances ever but I don't think it's the worst. I have the resolve and the response to come back and do better.

"I was frustrated because, as a unit, we were just coming off the field and not maintaining drives. It wasn't so much what they were doing to us, it was how we were responding to what they were doing. That's what we have to get better at."

And he had little help. The offence, which came into the season boasting a new scheme designed to make it more explosive, has yet to spring scatback Charles Roberts, who had 31 yards on 10 carries.

But Martin blamed himself for being too tentative.

"It was my first time going back out there," he said. "As a quarterback, sometimes you see some things but you don't trust it until you get used to seeing it again. So, a lot of that was happening."


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