Esks Game Day #1

How nice were the CFL schedule makers when they decided to cap off the Canada Day long weekend by starting the Eskimos season at home against the BC Lions. Not only do Eskimo fans get to enjoy the weekend, with all the bar-be-ques, fireworks, and fun in the sun, but we get to top it off with the season opener of the Edmonton Eskimos on Sunday night. Pretty good deal in the books of Esks Nation.

As I stated in my weekly post on Esks.com, there are some intriguing historical facts that swing both for and against an Eskimos victory.

Going back to 2005, the Eskimos are 2-2-1 in season openers and 4-0-1 in their home openers, clearly showing that the Eskimos like kicking off the season in the friendly confines of Commonwealth, where their boisterous fan base helps to give them a solid start to the season. The only blemish in the home opener record was that curious tie game with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in 2007, where the final score finished 39-39, and Ricky Ray had a stat line that read 33-of-42 for 394 yards, five touchdowns, one interception, 34 yards rushing on four attempts and one tackle. Yes, the game was so weird that the starting quarterback had a tackle.

On the other hand, the Eskimos played the BC Lions three times in 2009, hosting the Leos twice, while making the trek to the west coast once. It was a case of the gracious host last season with neither team being able to defend their home turf. The Lions beat the Eskimos handily 40-22 on July 16th, before returning to Edmonton on October 9th in a much closer 34-31 game to take both dates in Commonwealth. The Esks however exacted some revenge by pumping the home town Lions 45-13 in the final game of the season on November 6th.

The preceding could be summarized by saying that the Eskimos are fantastic in their home openers, but have struggled with the BC Lions while at home of late. You have to go back to Week 6 of the 2008 season to find an Eskimos victory over the Lions in Commonwealth.

Live in the moment

Now let’s not get too excited about the history. The Lions roster has been stripped down mightily from last year as BC lost four players to the NFL, not to mention the departure of offensive tackle Jason Jimenez to Hamilton. Yes, they have replaced some of the pieces with quality players, such as running back Jamal Robertson, who racked up 1,031 yards for the Toronto Argonauts in 2009. That being said, it’s tough to replace everyone and with Ricky Foley missing from the Lions pass rush, will they be able to get to opposing quarterbacks in 2010?

All about the Esks

Okay, enough about the Lions. The Eskimos are relatively healthy heading into the game and will boast a full complement of receivers for Ricky Ray to find on the field. The nice thing about having so many targets on the roster is that it keeps everyone fresh. Adding in a healthy Arkee Whitlock and Calvin McCarty, who looked pretty good in the month of June, and you have the makings of a pretty potent attack.

On the defensive side of the ball, what are the chances that the interception pool makes in out of Week 1? With a revamped secondary and improved pass rush, the Eskimos should be able to force Casey Printers into making a few poor decisions on Sunday. TJ Hill picked him off in the pre-season, and there is no reason to believe it can’t be done on Sunday evening.

Details

Sunday, July 4th.  5:00 PM MST @ Commonwealth Stadium

Weather Forecast: +21, Variable cloudiness

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