Thursday, August 25, 2016
ESKS IGNORE BETTING LINE VERSUS RIDERS
The Eskimos are favoured by 13.5-points Friday night by Las Vegas oddsmarkers.
But Edmonton quarterback Mike Reilly says the 1-7 Green Riders under head coach/GM Chris Jones can't be taken lightly in Friday's game at the Brick Field at Commonwealth Stadium.
"Football games aren't played on paper,'' said Reilly after practice Thursday.
"We've just got to go out and execute. If we make the mistakes we made earlier in the season it will be a lot more difficult.''
First-year Eskimos coach Jason Maas pays even less attention to the odds.
"I don't care about ... to be honest ... that's news to me," Maas told reporters at his Thursday pregame news conference. "I do not pay attention to the spread, whether you're favoured or you're not favoured. I realize when you're the home team you've favoured usually anyways. I could care less about the betting line. All I'm focused on - all we are focused on - is beating the Riders. And that's the bottom line."
Led by Reilly and receivers Derel Walker and Adarius Bowman, the 4-4 Eskimos specialize in destroying defences through the air.
Reilly is the CFL's top-rated passer, completing more than 70 per cent of his passes for 2,843 yards and 14 TDs against six interceptions.
Bowman leads the CFL in receiving yards (875) and Walker is second (837).
And nobody likes to throw like the Eskimos.
They lead the league with 228 completions. Only Ottawa is averaging more passing yards per game than Edmonton's 355.3 yard average. Edmonton has 201 first downs, also tops.
Jones makes his second return trip to Edmonton after leading the team to the Grey Cup last year as head coach and defensive co-ordinator.
Reilly and Walker say a Jones defence is always dangerous, with something up its sleeve in shifts and stunts in coverage.
"He (Jones) is always planning something,'' said Walker.
"We're just going to come out and execute the game plan and go from there.''
Saskatchewan's defence, by contrast, cannot be more accommodating.
The Green D is giving up almost 36 points a game, last in the league by a longshot, to go with a league-worst 30 touchdowns. They allow 9.7 yards per pass, also worst in the CFL, and have just two interceptions.
The hope is veteran cornerback Fred Bennett, recently acquired from Calgary, will have an impact in his first game as a Rider.
Reilly, who has taken some wicked hits in recent weeks, should have an easier time Friday. The Riders have just 11 sacks, again last in the league.
Saskatchewan's defensive futility is matched only by its offence.
The Riders have not scored a touchdown in the last 90 minutes, and are in the CFL basement in points scored (18.1 per game).
They have scored just 11 touchdowns in eight games.
The Eskimos, after a rocky start that has left them fourth in the West, are now on a roll. They have won two in a row and are coming of a 46-23 drubbing of the Toronto Argonauts.
The Green and Gold need to put Saskatchewan away to build momentum for a difficult second half of the season.
In the last nine games, the Eskimos play six on the road, meet the 5-3 BC Lions and 6-1-1 Calgary Stampeders twice and go against Hamilton in Steeltown.
Notes: Shakir Bell will replace John White as the Eskimos starting running back Friday. White injured his hand in the win over Toronto. Bell has not seen action all year, but racked up 633 yards on 113 carries in 11 games last year while White was out with a ruptured Achilles. A good crowd is expected. As of early Thursday, 32,137 tickets had been sold.
(With files from the Canadian Press)