Formula none

CON GRIWKOWSKY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:51 AM ET

So many red zone stalls. So little time.

With only a couple of full practice days before hosting Calgary in their Thursday night home opener, the Edmonton Eskimos offence is already in full head-scratching mode.

When the smoke cleared after getting smoked in Saskatchewan, all they got was four field goals and a single on a missed field goal, 13 points from Noel Prefontaine.

They had the ball inside the 20-yard line three times and all they got was this lousy T-shirt: Can't score in a ... never mind.

An inability to seal the deal despite decent numbers by quarterback Ricky Ray brings back some nightmarish memories from seasons past. Droughts have happened before.

What's worse this time around is it's happened right out of the gate when the hype of a new-and-improved product has heightened expectations.

Ray offered a blunt assessment of the situation. Considering the hand the schedule-makers have dealt them, Ray knows it's important to shift the momentum.

"Winning becomes a habit and losing becomes a habit," said Ray. "We've just got to keep moving forward, start doing the right things, get some wins and make winning a habit again.

STRUGGLING

"I wouldn't say it's must-win yet. I've been on teams where we've struggled out of the gate, come on strong and won the Grey Cup. I've been on teams where we got off to a hot start, struggled down the stretch and still ended up winning the Grey Cup.

"There's no reason to panic yet. We lost a tough game to the defending champs in their own backyard. We can't panic now. Luckily, we're at home this week and we'll try to take care of business."

Next up are two opponents with solid defensive identities.

Calgary did a number on the vaunted B.C. offence in Week 1 and the Rich Stubler-coached Argos have been the stingiest outfit in the CFL for several years now.

"They're another good defence in this league," said Ray about the team's prospects against the Stamps, a squad which new head coach John Hufnagel seems to have tuned into mid-season form. "Again, it's going to come down to us scoring in the scoring zone. We've just got to do a better job of it."

Ray said there are no easy solutions to this type of productivity challenge. If there were any lessons to be learned from past futility spells, it's that everybody gets frustrated until the ball finally gets punched in.

"We've got the talent, we've just got to go out there and execute," said Ray, who completed 25 of 37 passes for 249 yards, numbers that should have been good enough for at least one TD.

"When you're a part of it, there's no quick answer to it. It's just a combination of a lot of things that come together for you to be successful and we have to find that combination."

Ray said he prefers to have head coach Danny Maciocia call the plays from the sidelines. If Ray had actually had an off-day in his first regular-season start since late last season, it would have been easier to explain it away.

NO EXPLANATION

Maciocia was also at a loss to explain why the offence sputters as it approaches the goal-line.

"It's a combination of everything," said Maciocia. "You're not going to pinpoint one particular area or one particular person. We had two 11-play drives and had to settle for field goals.

"If we could have punched in three majors, that football game was a different football game.

"But, we didn't. We just have to find a way when we get down there to get touchdowns instead of field goals."

Yep. That's about it.


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