The Winnipeg Blue Bombers may be playing for something beyond pride when they take on the Eskimos in Edmonton on Saturday.
The night before Halloween will be their last chance to win their first road game of the season. That’s right, the Bombers have yet to earn a single point away from home in eight tries. Scary thought.
“The last chance to win a game on the road and it’s a big opportunity for our team — a big stepping-stone for our team next year, to come out strong and get our first road win this year,” said Bomber defensive end Phillip Hunt.
“Yeah, we set the message straight from Day One,” said Bomber head coach Paul LaPolice. “We’re not coming in here just to look at guys. We want to compete and play, and this is a team (Edmonton) that we beat early in the season. So, we need to get ready to play and get our first road win.”
The Bombers battered Edmonton 47-21 at home earlier this season.
Actually, three of Winnipeg’s four wins have come against teams in the CFL West this season and, while they have been road kill all year, the Bombers were only blown out twice while sleeping in hotel rooms. In fact, they have lost by four or less in their last four games away from home.
But, to win their first of nine in hostile territory, they will have to do it behind a quarterback who was once listed as No. 4 on the depth chart — Joey Elliott.
“Oh yeah, it’s a big deal,” Elliott said. “Obviously, we want to try to come up with the big plays in key moments on the road …
“Right now, we’re still playing for pride and playing for our jobs so, we want to treat this game like any other. We want to get that win and I’m excited for the opportunity to try and get it.”
Elliott, by the way, was asked if he would be able to sleep the night before his first CFL start.
“Oh yeah, I’ll be able to sleep, relax, have a big meal and get up and go through my normal routine,” he replied confidently.
CH-CHANGES: LaPolice is, however, making several changes for Saturday’s contest. Import cornerback Johnny Sears, who looked good in practice filling in for an ill Deon Beasley; import running back/kick returner Chris Garrett — who may be their only hope to shore up their pathetic kickoff return game; Markus Howell, who can play receiver, returner, DB and cover kicks; import defensive end Remond Willis; Canadian offensive lineman Chris Greaves; and QBs Zac Champion and Justin Goltz.
Embattled non-import receiver Brock Ralph has been moved to the injury list, along with OL Brendon LaBatte, DL Dorion Smith, RB Yvenson Bernard, QBs Steven Jyles and Alex Brink, and Beasley.
SACK ATTACK: Hunt leads the CFL sack race with 15 and teammate Odell Willis is tied for second with 11. And Edmonton’s backup QB Jared Zabransky, who will make his second straight start in place of the injured Ricky Ray, is well aware of Winnipeg’s imposing D-line.
“They’re pretty stout,” he told QMI Agency. “They’re definitely a good defence, they have a number of guys in the secondary that fly around and their front seven really get after the quarterback.”
CONFIRMED: The Bombers finally confirmed that they had plucked non-import OL Matt Morencie off Hamilton’s practice roster. The 6-foot-3, 295-pound Windsor product, however, will not play in Edmonton when the Bombers take on the Eskimos on Saturday.