Sunday, August 2, 2015

Redblacks hope to buck West mastery

OTTAWA—Life is not about to get any easier for the Ottawa Redblacks.
Losers of three-straight, the Redblacks (1-5) host the powerful Edmonton Eskimos (5-1) tonight at TD Place.

And in what seems like a case of piling on, another West Division power—the Calgary Stampeders—comes to the nation’s capital next week.
It’s a pretty bleak picture for the expansion Redblacks, who, like other teams in the inferior East, have trouble when pitted against their West Division counterparts.
Still, coach Rick Campbell said his team can get that elusive second win if it can limit its mistakes.
“Any time you face a good team, like the last three weeks of Saskatchewan, Calgary, and Edmonton, they’re not going to beat themselves so we need to make sure we keep things positive,” Campbell stressed.
“We can’t afford negative plays, which would include penalties, and we’ve got to limit the turnovers.
“And when we’ve played that way, which we did several games early in the season, then we gave ourselves a chance to win the game,” he reasoned.
Statistically things don’t look great for the Redblacks.
The team ranks dead last in the nine-team CFL in yards allowed per game (415.8), is seventh in offence (332.7), and eighth in rushing yards per game (79.2).
Despite the disappointing numbers, players believe they are coming together as a team.
“Everybody just has to focus on themselves and do their own job, and keep their integrity,” said linebacker Jasper Simmons, who had nine tackles and an interception last week.
“We have great effort, great will and great power to do what we have to do, but we have to be smart,” he stressed.
The Redblacks don’t want to use their tough schedule as an excuse but a stretch of games against Saskatchewan, Calgary, Edmonton, and then Calgary again would be tough for any team—let alone an expansion one.
The Western teams have proven to be a challenge for everyone in the East, but the tough stretch also has allowed the Redblacks to see how they measure up against the best and determine what improvements need to be made.
The Redblacks face Edmonton for the second time this season. Quarterback Henry Burris believes they played well against them earlier this season despite losing 27-11.
“We did a great job of taking care of the football,” Burris noted.
“That helps keep us in games and gives our defence a chance, and puts them in the long field position where they have to try and drive the long field.”
Burris believes that if the team can find some consistency in its play, eliminate penalties and mental mistakes, then the team will give itself the best opportunity to be successful.
The Redblacks also would like to get off to a strong start tonight—something they’ve struggled with in their last three games.
Playing from behind has often led to mistakes and penalties, which, in turn, seems to change the overall mindset and game plan.
“The start is so important,” conceded Simmons. “We need to show that we’re here.
“We can’t wait until the second half to decide to play.
“We need to start fast and being home this week, you want to get those 24,000 fans yelling for you,” he reasoned.

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