CFL Preview - Edmonton (0-0) at British Columbia (0-0)
From The Sports Network
By Gregg Xenakes, CFL Editor
DATE & TIME: Saturday, June 28, 6 p.m. (ET).
GAME NOTES: Following one of the worst campaigns in recent memory, the
Edmonton Eskimos try to start off the 2014 CFL season on a positive note as
they clash with the British Columbia Lions at BC Place in Vancouver on
With a mere four wins in 18 opportunities, the Eskimos were the only team in
the West Division that failed to make the playoffs. While the worst record in
the league overall in 2013 was reserved for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers (3-15),
half of Edmonton's victories came against those same Bombers in back-to-back
weeks in September.
The Eskimos, who actually won three road games a year ago, are hoping that
their offense can get back on track after scoring only 23.4 ppg (second-to-
last). New head coach Chris Jones, a former assistant with the Toronto
Argonauts, is putting his faith in quarterback Mike Reilly to get them back on
Riley, who finished second in the league with 4,207 yards passing a season
ago, but had an efficiency rating of only 86.9 because he tallied 18
interceptions, against 24 touchdowns, was just rewarded with a three-year
contract extension on Monday, which will keep him grounded in Edmonton until
2016 presumably. Not only does Riley provide a solid base for the passing
attack, he is also a threat to tuck the ball and run after finishing fifth in
the league with 709 rushing yards on 84 attempts.
The signal-caller will rely heavily on slot back Fred Stamps, who led the
league a season ago with 1,259 yards through the air and scored 11 touchdowns
on 68 catches. Stamps has now put together five straight seasons with at least
1,150 yards receiving, making him one of the top threats in the CFL.
Adarius Bowman (44 rec., 697 yards, 5 TDs) and Nate Coehoorn (49 rec., 646
yards) are also solid options when Stamps cannot get free.
The Esks are heading into the season amid some controversy though, having
released running back Hugh Charles who was second on the unit and sixth in the
league with 605 yards on 112 carries a year ago.
The Lions are a team that matched Saskatchewan for the second-best record in
the West Division last season at 11-7, but even after closing out the regular
season with consecutive victories against this same Edmonton squad and
Calgary, the club was one-and-done in the playoffs, bowing to the Roughriders
(29-25), the team that would eventually take the 101st Grey Cup.
Head coach Mike Benevides and the rest of British Columbia was not happy with
how the 2013 season finished out, but the executives with the program thought
enough of their on-field leader to offer him a contract extension on Tuesday,
one that will have Benevides on the sidelines through 2016.
British Columbia was in the middle of the CFL pack when it came to scoring
offense last season, putting up 28.0 ppg, but with an average yield of 25.6
ppg there wasn't much room for error. A star performer for the Lions during
their championship run in 2011, quarterback Travis Lulay is ready to lead the
team once again.
Lulay had put up back-to-back seasons with at least 4,200 passing yards, but
he took a few steps backward in 2013 with only 2,841 yards and 19 touchdowns
through the air. Granted, that yardage total had him finishing fifth in the
league, but that was partly due to the fact that there were so many key
injuries to quarterbacks.
Keeping Lulay on his toes will be Kevin Glenn, who played for the Calgary
Stampeders the last two years but then found himself on the new Ottawa
RedBlacks roster before being acquired in a draft day trade in May. Glenn
missed a number of games last season, yet still recorded the best pass
efficiency rating (100.5) of his career. If nothing else, the competition for
playing time and the experience that Glenn brings to the table should make
One major change for the Lions is the loss of Nick Moore, the league's third-
best receiver in 2013 with 1,105 yards on 73 catches. Granted, he only landed
in the end zone six times but at least Moore, who is now with Winnipeg, could
stretch the field. Emmanuel Arceneaux is back after producing 885 yards and
six TDs on 51 receptions, but without another reliable option in the passing
game his numbers could suffer.
A former first-round pick of the Lions, the sixth overall in 2011, Marco
Iannuzzi might be ready for more responsibility. The wideout doesn't have too
many big plays to his credit in three previous campaigns, but that could all
change in 2014 if he is fed the ball enough.
Already a known commodity in BC, slot back Shawn Gore set the bar rather high
for himself last season with eight of his 47 receptions resulting in
touchdowns. He averaged just 11.7 yards per catch, but clearly he is someone
the team has shown confidence in when the ball nears the goal line.
Matching Gore for the team lead in scoring, outside of kicking points of
course, was running back Andrew Harris who is coming off a couple of very
successful years. Harris posted four 100-yard rushing games and scored three
touchdowns in a single meeting against Edmonton barely a month into last
season, skewing his final numbers slightly, but still the threat is there
coming out of the backfield.
As for the BC defense, all eyes will be on cornerback Cord Parks to see if he
can come anywhere close to his dominating rookie campaign in 2013 when he led
the West Division with six interceptions and 121 return yards, en route to
being named a West Division All-Star. Parks, who debuted with an interception
return for a touchdown against Calgary, also logged three fumble recoveries,
one of those being returned for a score as well.
In terms of an all-time history between these clubs, one taking into account
only regular season meetings dating back to 1954, Edmonton is on top by a
count of 103-76-4. However, BC has triumphed in five consecutive meetings and
eight of the last nine, thanks in part to a 43-29 final in Week 18 last
Earlier in the 2013 campaign, the Lions also picked up a 17-3 win on the road
at Edmonton and a 31-21 victory at home in a span of just seven days.
With the loss of Charles as a rushing option, Reilly may feel the pressure to
fill in the gap and that could spell trouble for a quarterback who already
makes it a habit of running the ball a bit too much.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: British Columbia 28, Edmonton 19
06/25 10:55:30 ET
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