Esks Game Day #2

One team will exit Commonwealth Stadium on Sunday evening with an 0-2 record. The difference between the two teams is that one team has started the season at home while the other has been on the road. It is time for the Eskimos to step up and defend the turf.  There are no easy wins in the CFL, so why shouldn’t the Eskimos come out today and get their first win of the season. Montreal has not won a regular season game at Commonwealth since the 2006 season and it would be great to see that particular streak continued. That being said, there are several items that the Eskimos will have to better if they want to move their record to 1-1.

Protecting the Quarterback

Ricky Ray was sacked five times last Sunday and was under pressure all game. The return of centre Aaron Fiacconi to the lineup will allow Kyle Koch to move back to his regular left guard position and should certainly help the Eskimos offensive line regain the chemistry that saw them only give up 29 total sacks in the 2009 season. Montreal has a very strong pass rush with John Bowman and Anwar Stewart combining for 21 sacks last year. The dynamic duo was shut out in Saskatchewan last week and it will be a tough assignment for the Eskimos to keep them out of the backfield.

Yards per Catch

More time for the quarterback also means more time for receivers to get down field. Kelly Campbell had the longest catch of the day for the Eskimos last week when he pulled in a reception for 21 yards. That’s not good enough. Stretching a defense vertically down the field opens up both the run game and passes underneath the coverage. If the Eskimos can’t establish a deep threat, Montreal will have no trouble sitting on the shorter routes and waiting for the Eskimos to make a mistake.

Turnovers

As in the defense needs to create some. Holding the opposing team to field goals is okay, but the turning point of last week’s game came early when Ray was sacked and fumbled on the opening drive. The Eskimos secondary has yet to intercept a ball in its two pre-season and one regular season games this year. This was a sore spot for the defense in 2009 and you have to expect this to change with the amount of talent that was brought in during the off-season.

Help the Safety

Whoever starts at safety, and it appears that it could be rookie Saleem Borhot, will be new the position. The Eskimos defensive backs will need to be sharp in their coverage and not allow one of the Montreal’s talented receivers to find themselves all alone down field with the Eskimos safety. Communication on the defense will be paramount to success, so hopefully the players are talking tonight.

Win the Field Position Battle

This one starts and ends with Skyler Green and the Eskimos punt return team. Green averaged a paltry 3.2 yards per return last week and the Eskimos paid the price by having a longer field to work with for their offence. Tristan Jackson led the league in punt return average for returners with more than 20 returns last year with a 10.6 average. Green will need to equal or better that average today for the Eskimos to have a shot at winning.

Details

Sunday July 11th 5:00 PM MST @ Commonwealth Stadium

Weather Forecast: +25, Mainly sunny

With fans like this, the Eskies should have a definite home field advantage this week.

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