CFL Preview - Edmonton (5-5) at Hamilton (3-7)
From The Sports Network
By Gregg Xenakes, CFL Editor
DATE & TIME: Saturday, September 15, 3:00 p.m. (et).
GAME NOTES: Having lost five straight games, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats hope that
Ivor Wynne Stadium is the site where they are able to turn it around this
weekend as they host the Edmonton Eskimos.
It wasn't that long ago that the Tiger-Cats were a game over .500 thanks to a
three-game win streak in the month of July, but August was a complete bust
(0-3) and September has started out much the same way with back-to-back
defeats against Toronto, the most recent of those coming last Saturday in a
As for the Eskimos, a team which is now tied for third place in the West
Division with Saskatchewan at 5-5, they too have hit a bit of a rough patch
with two consecutive defeats and three in the last four. Like every team in
the CFL the last couple of weeks, Edmonton was pitted against the same
opponent, Calgary, and both times lost by narrow margins. The annual Labour
Day affair saw the Esks drop a 31-30 decision on the road, and then last
Friday the squad bowed in a 20-18 final at home.
Against the Stampeders in last week's battle, quarterback Kerry Joseph
completed 27-of-35 for 275 yards and a score to Fred Stamps in the fourth
quarter, but it was too little, too late in the two-point loss. Joseph also
led the way on the ground with 44 yards on seven attempts, a scary prospect
given how many signal-callers have found their way to the sidelines with
injuries already this season because they've put themselves in harm's way.
Having Joseph as the top ground gainer for the Eskimos was rather unusual,
especially given the fact that the team dressed all three of their top-shelf
running backs in Hugh Charles (31 yards), Jerome Messam (eight) and Cory Boyd
(six). Head coach Kavis Reed admitted that having all three available and
itching to get the ball probably wasn't the best approach for the squad, even
causing some confusion on the sidelines when it wasn't clear who was supposed
to be in the huddle and what their responsibilities were.
Coach Reed says that one of the backs will probably be scratched for this
game, but at this time the decision has not been made and that might work to
the benefit of the Eskimos if it forces Hamilton to study up and prepare for
all three ball carriers and their unique set of skills.
It now appears that Hamilton doesn't have a problem finding a leader coming
out of the backfield, since Avon Cobourne ran for a team-best 119 yards on 13
carries in the loss to Toronto last week. Cobourne, who played on a couple of
championship teams with Montreal earlier in his career, has appeared in just
two games this season and has totaled 169 yards on 21 attempts.
Chevon Walker had been the top choice to carry the ball for the Tiger-Cats,
placing fifth in the league in rushing with 563 yards on 96 attempts, but he's
found his way to the injured list and that has opened the door for Cobourne to
While the lead running back position may be in flux for Hamilton, the
quarterback spot has no such ambiguity as Henry Burris maintains his
leadership role in the huddle. Against Toronto in the latest outing, Burris
converted 16-of-30 passes for 272 yards and three touchdowns, against just a
single interception. Sam Giguere, Onrea Jones and Andy Fantuz all landed in
the end zone, courtesy of a Burris pass at one point or another.
In his first season with Hamilton since coming over from Calgary where he was
a standout performer for so many years, Burris is enjoying one of his better
seasons as he leads the CFL in passing TDs (24) and efficiency rating (105.5).
Already, the signal-caller has thrown more TDs this season than all of 2011
when he tossed just 20 for the Stampeders.
Burris, who has thrown for more than 7,000 yards against Edmonton in his
career, has found Chris Williams to be his favorite target these days, the
latter catching 47 balls for 775 yards and five touchdowns. An exciting
performer who can score in a variety of ways, Williams is second in the league
in combined yards with 1,716 and paces the CFL in touchdowns with 11, thanks
to his six scores on returns which have already set a single-season record in
Edmonton, which is set to host the 'Cats in their second meeting of the
regular season on October 5, owns a 52-28-1 record versus Hamilton in regular
season matchups dating back to 1950. The Eskimos won the most recent encounter
last September by a score of 38-23 on the road, giving them two straight wins
and six in the last eight over Hamilton.
Handling the running back controversy will be a huge problem for the Eskimos
because someone with great talent is going to be left out of the mix. Ray
certainly has the ability to get a team into the win column on his own, but
the confusion going on behind him may be too much to battle through this
weekend on the road.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Hamilton 27, Edmonton 24
09/12 12:05:49 ET
Powered by The Sports Network.