CFL Preview - Edmonton (5-3) at Calgary (4-4) (ET)
GAME NOTES: The Calgary Stampeders again aim for their first set of back-to- back wins this season, as they challenge the Edmonton Eskimos during their annual Labour Day meeting on Monday afternoon at McMahon Stadium.
In a tradition that dates back to 1949 when the Stamps captured a 20-6 win over Edmonton, this is the most heavily played matchup during rivalry week, with the Eskimos delivering 29 wins in 51 games over the years. This time around both clubs are chasing the British Columbia Lions for the top spot in the West Division standings, as the Esks trail by two points and Calgary comes up another two points behind them.
The problem with the Stampeders is that they've been unable to produce any consistency from one game to the next. The team has alternated wins and losses the entire season, the most recent outcome being a 17-10 victory over Saskatchewan last weekend on the road.
In the meeting with the Roughriders, Calgary got off to a strong start with 14 points in the first quarter, but from there the offense fell silent and the team was only able to produce another three points in the third. Luckily the defense was more than up to the challenge as it held Saskatchewan scoreless through the first three periods.
Quarterback Kevin Glenn was far from explosive for the Stamps, but still he was able to turn a mere 15-of-24 performance for 171 yards into a pair of passing touchdowns in the opening frame. One scoring strike went to Joe West from 34 yards out to begin the game, and the other was delivered to Romby Bryant for 14 yards, the receiver's first trip to the end zone this season.
As great as Bryant may have been in years past, his production has taken a major hit in 2012, particularly when it comes to TDs. Just two years ago he was one of the most exciting receivers in the league who turned 78 catches into 1,170 yards and 15 TDs, and now it has taken until the eighth game of the season just to see him cross the goal line.
Meanwhile, Edmonton was a team that was due to have some growing pains this season since it sent former standout quarterback Ricky Ray to Toronto and brought in Steven Jyles as a replacement. Jyles has thrown just five TDs on 185 attempts this year and has almost as many interceptions (four) to show for his efforts and yet the Esks are still somehow sitting in second place in the standings.
On Monday night, the Eskimos invaded Rogers Centre in Toronto as quarterbacks faced off against their former teammates again this season and this time Jyles wasn't around to celebrate his team's 26-17 win on the field. Jyles, who hit on four of his six pass attempts for 49 yards, was forced out of the game at the end of the first quarter due to an apparent leg injury and that brought in Kerry Joseph, who not only scored himself on a one-yard run in the first frame, he played well enough to engineer a much-needed victory for the visitors as well.
Joseph did toss a couple of interceptions as he completed 13-of-20 passes for 169 yards, but he had the luxury of being able to hand off to both Hugh Charles and former Argonaut running back Cory Boyd who finished with a combined 112 yards and a score on 24 attempts.
Stretching the field for Joseph was receiver Fred Stamps who reeled in four balls for 77 yards, including a fantastic one-handed grab down the sidelines for 44 yards.
At this stage it is unclear whether or not Jyles will be ready to play against Calgary, or even if the coaching staff is willing to go back to their starter since he has been rather pedestrian through the first eight games of the season. With an efficiency rating of only 58.5 in limited action, Joseph isn't exactly being seen as a savior just yet, considering he has only two passing scores and five interceptions to his name so far in 2012.
The key player in this week's game could well be Calgary running back Jon Cornish who ran for a career-high 159 yards against Saskatchewan on 24 attempts, and has now taken over the league lead in that department with 571 yards.
Calgary won the most recent meeting between these two clubs last September with a 30-20 victory on the road, but even with the Stamps taking seven of the last nine encounters, it is Edmonton that owns a 123-82-3 advantage in the all-time, regular-season series dating back to 1949.
The teams are also set to match up just four more days after this meeting, and then also have a date set for September 28 back here in Calgary as well. At the end of the regular season, the squads get one last look at each other as they compete in Edmonton on November 2.
With the status of Jyles still up in the air and the quarterback position at Edmonton questionable at best, this would be the perfect time for Calgary to post those back-to-back wins it has been searching for all season.