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CFL Preview - Montreal (3-3) at Edmonton (4-2)



From The Sports Network

By Gregg Xenakes, CFL Editor

DATE & TIME: Friday, August 17, 9:00 p.m. (et).

GAME NOTES: With a pair of running backs who both have at least 400 yards to their credit after six games this season, the Edmonton Eskimos now set their sights on taking down the Montreal Alouettes when the teams collide on Friday night at Commonwealth Stadium.

With Hugh Charles having already proven himself this year as a viable offensive option with his 400 yards and two touchdowns on 84 rushing attempts, the Eskimos have one of the top running backs in the league. Late last week the team added to its stable of backs by signing Cory Boyd after he was released by the Toronto Argonauts. Over the course of 36 games with the Argos, Boyd had amassed more than 3,000 yards in rushing and receiving and scored 18 touchdowns.

A product of the University of South Carolina, Boyd has already rushed for a league-high 447 yards and is averaging 5.5 yards per attempt. Prior to this move, Edmonton was tied for the fewest rushing TDs in the CFL with just three and was second-to-last in total rushing yards with 524.

Edmonton, which is tied with British Columbia for first place in the West Division with a record of 4-2, has won three of its last four outings, thanks to a 28-20 victory over Saskatchewan last Friday. Against the Roughriders, Edmonton ran for just 84 yards and only Charles (67 yards) was able to gain more than 15 in the matchup.

Quarterback Steven Jyles hit on 18-of-23 passing for 282 yards and a score as well for Edmonton. The team also picked up a defensive touchdown by Joe Burnett who returned a fumble 44 yards for a score late in the third frame. Burnett also leads the league in interceptions with three, one of which he returned 108 yards for a touchdown earlier in the campaign.

As for the Alouettes, they've been itching to get back onto the field since defeating Winnipeg on the road August 3 by a final of 36-26. Snapping a two- game slide, Montreal scored in every quarter of the meeting thanks in large part to Sean Whyte, who knocked through all four of his field goal tries and finished with 15 points overall, earning CFL Special Teams Player of the Week honors.

Helping to put Whyte in scoring position was Anthony Calvillo, who converted 17-of-29 passes for 368 yards and two touchdowns. While the aging signal-caller was sacked three times, he didn't throw an interception. On the other end of six of those completions was Brandon Whitaker, who turned them into 64 yards, giving him a total of 179 yards from scrimmage after gaining 115 yards on 18 rushing attempts. Even though Calvillo had yet another strong effort and receiver Jamel Richardson caught four balls for 91 yards and two majors, it was Whitaker who was named the CFL Offensive Player of the Week.

Whitaker has now carried the ball 71 times for 366 yards, seventh-most in the CFL, but he hasn't broken any runs of major significance as of yet.

While Whitaker has proven that he can help shoulder some of the load coming out of the backfield for the Als, the leader on the field in every way imaginable remains Calvillo. The first quarterback in the league to eclipse the 2,000 yards plateau in passing yards, Calvillo hasn't been quite as sharp with his throws, yet he is still second in passing scores (13) and efficiency rating (104.5).

Calvillo has managed to keep plenty of his receivers happy, spreading the wealth to as many as six players who have double-digit receptions to this point in the season. S.J. Green leads the team in receiving yards with 433, Whitaker has the most receptions with 31 and is tied with Patrick Lavoie (11 catches, 134 yards) in receiving scores with three apiece.

Mixed in on that list of outlets for Calvillo is Richardson who is working towards his fifth straight 1,000 yards season, showing 25 grabs for 386 yards and two TDs thus far.

Last season Montreal won both meetings against the Esks, first taking a 27-4 final at home in August and then posting a 34-21 victory on the road six weeks later. Overall the Als have won four in a row and five of the last six versus Edmonton and yet it is the Eskimos who maintain a 37-25-2 advantage in the all- time, regular-season series dating back to 1949.

The teams are set to play each other once more during the regular season, meeting up in Montreal on October 28.

Even though Jyles doesn't make many mistakes throwing the football, he doesn't exactly instill confidence in the offense either. Still in the testing phase, Jyles needs a signature game to hang his hat on and this could be that one shining moment for the quarterback if he can get his team into the win column.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Edmonton 31, Montreal 23

08/15 11:08:15 ET