Esks des­per­ate to ig­nite of­fense



The Ed­mon­ton Eski­mos have lost five of their past six games and sit in last place in the CFL’s West Di­vi­sion head­ing into a crit­i­cal con­test against the Ot­tawa Red­blacks to­day.

Some­how, the 2018 Grey Cup hosts have to jump-start an of­fence that’s come off the rails and hit the ditch.

The Eski­mos (7-8) haven’t scored a touch­down in nine quar­ters and count­ing. They haven’t scored a sin­gle point in the fourth quar­ter of their last four games. And quar­ter­back Mike Reilly has been run­ning for his life be­hind an of­fen­sive line that‘s given up nine sacks the last two games.

What’s more, Reilly could be less than 100 per cent for the game. Reilly wasn’t on the field for Fri­day’s walk­through be­cause he has the flu, although he is ex­pected to start.

“He just had the flu,” said coach Ja­son Maas, who had backup Kevin Glenn tak­ing snaps with the first-team of­fence. “He just wanted to stay home so he doesn’t af­fect ev­ery­body else. He’ll be ready.

“Our walk-through was great. Kevin took charge of that and he looked good. Our guys looked ready to play. We still have 24 hours to lock it down, but right now I think we feel pretty con­fi­dent that they know what to do.”

Ed­mon­ton hasn’t scored a touch­down since Duke Wil­liams hauled in a 23-yard pass from Reilly in the third quar­ter of a 28-15 loss to the East Di­vi­sion-lead­ing Red­blacks (8-6) in Ot­tawa on Sept. 22. The fourthquar­ter scor­ing drought dates back to a 23-20 loss to the Cal­gary Stam­ped­ers on Sept. 3 when the Eski­mos man­aged three points on a 43-yard field goal by Sean Whyte.

“The mis­takes that we make in the red zone, that’s it,” said run­ning back C.J. Gable. “We get down there. We’re just not ex­e­cut­ing our plays when we get down there.

“It’s like a fum­ble or an in­ter­cep­tion. We’re hurt­ing our­selves. No­body else is re­ally hurt­ing us.”

In Mon­day’s 19-12 loss to the Saskatchewan Roughrid­ers at Mo­saic Sta­dium, Reilly was sacked a to­tal of five times and tossed three in­ter­cep­tions, in­clud­ing the win­ning points on a 49-yard pick-six by Wil­lie Jef­fer­son with 2:16 to play.

Af­ter al­low­ing just four sacks in the first six games (four wins), the Eski­mos’ of­fen­sive line has given up 31 sacks in nine games since. Their to­tal of 35 is sec­ond only to Mon­treal and is six more than the 29 they al­lowed all last sea­son.

“Right now, every­one has to play bet­ter and work that lit­tle bit harder,” said Ed­mon­ton’s Matt O’Don­nell, who is mov­ing back to right guard to­day af­ter play­ing left tackle. “Ev­ery inch counts right now.”

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