EDMONTON - An untested quarterback. Check.
Emphasis on the running game. Check.
Big effort from the defence. Check.
A game-breaking kick returner. Check.
Upsetting a higher-ranked team. Check.
Hey, if that formula worked for the Edmonton Eskimos in their win over Saskatchewan last week, why not for the Bombers over the Eskimos on Saturday afternoon?
Winnipeg has been relegated to the spoiler role in the last two weeks of this mostly miserable CFL season.
“Not at all,” said Bombers head coach Paul LaPolice on how much deciding the West race plays into his team’s psyche. “They’re interested in winning a football game. They don’t really care about how the West goes”
Joey Elliott and Fred Reid fit the first two items of the bill.
“It’s exciting for both of them (inexperience quarterbacks,” said Bombers centre Obie Khan. “This is a chance for Joey and (Eskimos starter Jared) Zabransky to make a stand for themselves.
“Joey’s got a lot of fire behind him. He plays with confidence and a swagger you don’t see many quarterback have. I hope he can parlay that onto the field and do some good things for us.”
A hellacious pass rush that leads the league in sacks should bring the house on Zabransky, who got a win in his first CFL start last week.
“If you want to be a real dominant defence, you can take over a game,” said Doug Brown, a leader on a defence that leads the CFL sacks race.
“Neither quarterback has a lot of experience. Zabransky is one-up on Joey in terms of starts, but they both have a lot of moxie and swagger. It’ll be interesting to see, not only to see how this team responds with nothing on the line with post-season opportunity, but at the same time the showcase to what these new quarterbacks can do and what they can bring to the field.”
And, if you figured one of these things on the list doesn’t belong, think again.
Playing the role of Jason Armstead, who scored a return TD last week the first time he touched the ball, is Winnipeg’s Chris Garrett.
“Most definitely, I’m happy to get back in the lineup,” said Garrett. “I’m looking forward to get a chance and an opportunity to show what I can do. I’m not just a good returner, I’m a good football player.”
Garrett has sat out the last four games after appearing in three games. Apparently, the Bombers have been saving the Ohio speedster for a special occasion.
“He is quick,” said LaPolice. “He’s a little guy that’s hard for the defensive linemen to see. We’re going to use him on kickoff returns a little bit this game. We know how quick he is. He’s got good speed and good abilities. This kid’s got a second gear like Jason Armstead does. If he gets an open space and makes a guy miss, he could be gone.”
This special occasion gives the special teams a chance to break out of their season-long slumber.
Naturally, the Bombers are going to have to beat some long odds as they wind up their schedule.
Like, the fact this is their last chance to win a game on the road this season. Many have been close heartbreakers and in a game that has a pair of wet-behind-the-ears quarterback, the difference is sure to be somewhere else.