STAMPS NOTES: Offensive line shines in Labour Day Classic
Ka’Deem Carey ran for 143 yards in the Labour Day Classic.
Bo Levi Mitchell threw for 263 yards and didn’t get sacked a single time.
The key to both, though, was a Calgary Stampeders offensive line that had its best game of the year and managed to dominate an Edmonton Eskimos defensive line that led the CFL in sacks heading into this weekend’s slate of games.
“Amazing. I know (Stamps head coach Dave Dickenson) gave me the game ball but I turned around and gave it to (the o-line),” Mitchell said. “That’s a good defensive line and to move them around … The run game, with Ka’Deem and Terry (Williams) ran the ball the way they did and the receivers blocking, but the offensive line was moving the line of scrimmage and that’s not easy to do against those guys.
“I think I only got touched once or twice the whole game, so they did a damn good job and I honestly don’t think they could have played any better.”
The Stamps o-line has, at times, received some criticism this season. Heading into this week, they had allowed the third-most sacks in the CFL, although it’s worth noting that there are adjustments that come with playing in front of a new quarterback and the Stamps had backup Nick Arbuckle in for most of the year.
That’s not a criticism of Arbuckle, by any means, it’s just worth noting that those adjustments had to be made. It wasn’t always easy for the o-line.
But one way or another, the o-line had by far its best game of the year in front of the 32,350 fans who crowded into McMahon Stadium on Monday afternoon.
Football games are won and lost on the line of scrimmage and, against the Eskimos, the Stamps o-line did everything it could to help the Stamps earn their 25-9 victory.
It’s worth noting that Carey was exceptional on Monday and was extremely effective taking advantage of the holes the o-line built for him.
With Mitchell back and Reggie Begelton looking like he needs to be at the centre of any conversation about the CFL’s best receivers, Monday may have been the first preview of what the Stampeders offence can be going forward.
It wasn’t a perfect game and Dickenson believed the team missed a few opportunities to put the game out of reach early, but there were plenty of moments where the Stamps offence looked incredibly dynamic.
“It’s too fun,” Carey said. “I’ve been dreaming about this since the beginning of the year, to get to go out there with Reggie and Bo and just know what we can do. I feel like we’re an unstoppable three-person combo and the offensive line protects like there’s no tomorrow and they’re going to show it from now on. It’s something special.”
The Stampeders offence had 263 passing yards and 201 rushing yards against an Eskimos team that had not allowed that many combined yards all season.
If anyone’s searching for reasons to feel optimistic about the way this Stamps team will look down the stretch, Monday provided more than a few.
“We were trying to change angles, we weren’t just running inside the tackles,” Dickenson said about the run-game. We were all over the place. If we can do that and (it) makes us a little bit tougher to stop, so we’re not so predictable.”
Throughout the game, the Stampeders held up white placards on the sideline.
Teams do that in college football to disguise play-calls, but Dickenson insisted that wasn’t the case.
Here is how that exchange went.
“We were just basically trying to shade our guys so we didn’t get sunburned, that’s what we do,” Dickenson said.
“Was it particularly sunny?” asked this reporter.
“I should have worn sunscreen, yes,” Dickenson replied. “Any other questions?”
Whether you choose to believe Dickenson or not is entirely up to you.
Because Mitchell returned to the lineup and there were a couple major performances by offensive stars, the way the Stampeders’ defence and special teams units played may get overshadowed a bit.
That shouldn’t happen.
The defence was exceptional and did not allow a single touchdown while limiting the Eskimos to 271 combined offensive yards, while the special teams group was strong in its tackling and Terry Williams was his usual, dangerous self in the return game.
The defensive highlight might have been Royce Metchie getting the first interception of his career, and fellow defensive back DaShaun Amos said his teammates lost their minds when Metchie came down with the ball.
Unfortunately, Metchie also had a second opportunity for an interception and it bounced off his head.
Don’t expect the Stamps to let him forget it anytime soon.
“He’s always in the right spot in practice and he’s been there in games, as well,” Mitchell said about Metchie. “He’s a worker, too. He’s one of the most fun guys to watch at practice, but we’re all going to give him s— for that second one going off his face. Even though the first one was great, we’ve got to give him crap for that second one.”