Desperation time

PAUL FRIESEN -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 10:17 AM ET

The head coach believes things are getting desperate. The quarterback shrugs and says it's just another game.

Two men, two very different approaches for today's matchup between the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and Saskatchewan Roughriders.

Start with Doug Berry, the rookie coach who began emphasizing the importance of this game the moment the last one ended.

You remember the last one. The Rout in Regina, mistakenly labeled the Labour Day Classic.

The most troubling thing about that 39-12 pasting was the lack of intensity shown by the local side.

Berry's job this week was to crank that intensity up, say, a dozen notches. So he did what coaches in his shoes normally do: he sent a couple of not-so-subtle messages. He began by having his players practise in full pads early in the week, a departure from the normal routine.

Then he had GM Brendan Taman bring in a new offensive lineman, Eric Wilson. Finally, Berry demoted two players, lineman Aaron Fiaccone and linebacker Donnavan Carter.

Message sent.

"It's not like we had to hit them over the head with it," Berry said. "They know what that's all about. Hopefully, they understand."

If they don't, the basement's the limit.

Or, at least, a spot in the dark, dank crawl-space that exists for the two teams that can't even make the CFL playoffs.

You see, Edmonton's nailbiter of a win over Calgary Friday means the Bombers can suddenly feel the hot breath of the defending Grey Cup champs on the back of their necks.

The Esks are three points from crossing over into the East Division to claim what, not so long ago, appeared to be Winnipeg's playoff spot. The sleeping giant appears to have woken up.

Meanwhile, the Bombers are in a dive for five.

Yes, the majority of the losses came with Kevin Glenn and Milt Stegall on the sidelines. But as they've piled up, they've created a morbid momentum that shows no sign of waning.

"The farther you get away from winning, the farther away you get from the expectation to win," Berry said.

Right now, we'd say the Bombers are about 1,500 kilometres from that winning feeling -- or the distance from here to Hamilton.

Problem is, the toothless Ticats aren't on the agenda again until mid-October.

Instead, the next few weeks look like this: at Calgary, at Montreal and home to Montreal (swallow hard, here).

"At some point we need to turn this corner," Berry was saying yesterday. "This is the time to put the brakes on, right here."

Either that, or hit the ditch.

Which brings us to Glenn, who'll be steering the Bomber offence today.

The quarterback doesn't see the same fork in the road his boss apparently does.

A team forgetting how to win? Forget it.

"I don't feel the same way," Glenn said. "It's a big game 'cause it's the next game."

Sounds like Glenn missed the memo on urgency.

EVEN KEEL

The way he sees it, you prepare the best you can every week and let the chips fall where they may. It's not an unusual approach in sports: never too high, never too low.

We're not going to criticize the guy for keeping an even keel. As always, we'll reserve our comments for what we see on the field this afternoon.

And if Glenn looks rusty and tepid, like he did in coming back from a knee injury last week, we'll spell it out.

The Bomber offence can't have that, though. This team hasn't received a good game from a quarterback in more than a month.

Bad quarterbacking usually leads to a bad outcome.

So, in that way, Glenn's right -- it's just another game.

But one with a rather desperate undertone to it.


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