CFL Preview - Edmonton (1-0) at Saskatchewan (1-0)
From The Sports Network
By Gregg Xenakes, CFL Editor
DATE & TIME: Sunday, July 8, 7:00 p.m. (et).
GAME NOTES: Making the most noise in the opening week of the 2012 CFL season
were the Saskatchewan Roughriders, who this time around are poised to begin the
home portion of their schedule on Sunday evening versus the Edmonton Eskimos at
Saskatchewan, which won a total of five games all of 2011 and scored more than
30 points only twice, began this year with a bang as it rewarded new head coach
Corey Chamblin with a resounding 43-16 triumph over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats
last Friday night.
The only quarterback in the league to throw for more than 300 yards,
Saskatchewan signal-caller Darian Durant finished the night 25-of-34 for 390
yards and four touchdowns, all without a single interception as he was named
the CFL's Offensive Player of the Week. By far, the favorite target for Durant
was Weston Dressler who, with the addition of a 52-yard catch and run that
could have easily been reversed on review, led the league with 13 receptions
for 180 yards and three majors.
Chris Getzlaf tacked on three catches which he stretched into 96 yards and a
score for the Riders. Running back Kory Sheets erupted for 80 yards and a
touchdown on 12 rushing attempts for the victors as well.
For the Eskimos, their first week of action wasn't nearly as successful on
offense, but still the team was able to rattle off a 19-15 home win against
Toronto as former QB Ricky Ray returned to his old stomping grounds. New
starting quarterback Steven Jyles was unable to log an aerial score for
Edmonton, but he did convert 21-of-36 passes attempts for 236 yards
Running back Hugh Charles carried the ball 12 times for the hosts and gained
no more than six yards on any one attempt, yet he still factored heavily into
the win thanks to his four-yard TD run in the second quarter. Not to be
overlooked was kicker Grant Shaw who knocked through all four of his field
goal tries and finished with 13 points overall. For his efforts Shaw, who
spent the previous two seasons with Toronto, was named the CFL Special Teams
Player of the Week.
If there was one area that remained suspect for the Eskimos it was the level
of attention they paid to Toronto's Chad Owens who generated at least 100
yards in three different areas (receiving, kickoff returns and punt returns).
However, there was some good news on the defensive side of the ball for
Edmonton as linebacker J.C. Sherritt was named the Defensive Player of the
Week in the league after posting 11 tackles and forcing a fumble. Considering
the Eskimos had the added pressure of playing against their former quarterback
in Ray, they seemed to put all the pieces together in the opening week.
Defense should be one of the strong suits for the Eskimos again this season,
given that the team ranked second in the league in interceptions (24) and
total takeaways (45) in 2011. Because the offense played well enough to turn
the ball over just 29 times, fewest in the CFL, the team easily led the league
in overall turnovers with a plus-16.
Unfortunately, for the Roughriders, if recent history is any indication,
turnovers might be their undoing at some point this year. If there is any
lingering issues from a season ago, Saskatchewan has to be careful not to fall
into bad habits that saw the group tie Toronto for the worst turnover margin at
minus-17. The biggest problem was turning the ball over on downs, which the
program did a total of 19 times, something Durant will have to take ownership
of moving forward.
Edmonton had taken three straight and five of the last six meetings between
these two squads. The most recent triumph for the Eskimos was a narrow 23-20
final at home on November 4 of last season. Dating back to 1949 and taking into
consideration only regular-season bouts, the Esks are ahead of Saskatchewan by
a count of 111-81-2.
The Roughriders and Eskimos are slated to meet up at least two more times
during the regular season, the squads meeting in Edmonton the second week of
August and then playing on the home field of the Esks again on October 13.
Expecting Durant to have another near-flawless outing would be asking quite a
bit this early in the season, but bringing home the victory shouldn't be as
great a stretch.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Saskatchewan 31, Edmonton 22
07/04 11:36:06 ET
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