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STAMPEDERS NOTES: Mitchell relishes back-to-backs

EDMONTON – Bo Levi Mitchell loves these weeks.

Not every football player loves playing the same team in back-to-back games. It’s a lot of time studying film and preparing for the exact same opponent, after all, and it can get boring.

Mitchell, on the other hand, loves seeing the team twice in a row like his Calgary Stampeders will on Saturday when they take on the Edmonton Eskimos in the Labour Day Replay at Commonwealth Stadium (5 p.m., TSN, 770 CHQR).

“It’s just that much more prep time,” the Stamps QB said. “I think I am who I am in this league because of my prep. Being ready for a team and being able to adapt when it is something you haven’t seen, but just being able to see something you recognize and being able to use your instincts when it’s something you haven’t seen yet, when you get an entire extra week to prep for a team you’ve just played, it gets really fun.

“Kind of becomes that chess match a little bit.”

Around Commonwealth Stadium on Friday, there was some debate about how many adjustments both the Stampeders and Eskimos needed to make after the Calgary crew won the Labour Day Classic 25-9 on Monday afternoon.

Eskimos head coach Jason Maas insisted there weren’t that many changes that his team actually needed to make, despite not scoring a touchdown and struggling to tackle at times.

“When we talk about making wholesale changes and making these and making those, when we look at the film we’re like, ‘Yeah, there’s things we can change and things we can be better at,’ but ultimately it does come down to making some better efforts and making some better decisions throughout the course of the game,” Maas said. “You’ve got to have a mindset that details matter, you have to do your job on every play and at the end of the day you’ve got to play fast and physical.”

Stamps head coach Dave Dickenson acknowledged this week and last that in back-to-back games against the same opponent teams will generally keep some plays in their back pocket for the rematch.

That’s inevitable, but he also downplayed the need to overthink things just because the Stamps are playing the Eskimos twice in five days.

The Stampeders are still trying to build and grow, so with one day of practice between the Labour Day Classic and Saturday’s rematch, it’s not as if they’re going to come out and look like a completely new team with an entirely new playbook.

“I don’t have to be that creative because we’re in a dogfight,” Dickenson said. “I feel like each and every game is going to be a tough game. Obviously, we’re a little better at home, but we’ve been kind of up and down. We’ve been fighting hard but haven’t had a game where I feel we were clicking on all cylinders.”

It’s worth remembering that these second games of home-and-home series can get a little crazy.

Last year’s Labour Day Classic was a tight, defensive game in which the Stamps pulled off a narrow 23-20 win.

You can bet neither team went into the rematch hoping for an all-offence shootout, but that’s exactly what happened as the teams combined for more than double the points that were scored five days earlier and the Eskimos ended up with a 48-42 win.

Saturday might be a chess match, but it could also be complete and total chaos.

BLOCK CITY
Stamps receiver Eric Rogers and Eskimos receiver DaVaris Daniels are known more for their spectacular catches than their blocking.

Maybe that should change.

In the Labour Day Classic, Rogers had a huge block on Eskimos linebacker Vontae Diggs, while Daniels got one of his own on Stamps DB Raheem Wilson.

Mitchell wasn’t surprised. Not even a little bit.

“Oh man, (Rogers) hits. DaVaris always has, too and he never got talked about that way,” Mitchell said. “Maybe because they were flashier receivers so that’s not the first thing you talk about with those guys. (Rogers) is one of those guys who has an extra edge when there’s a bigger guy in front of him. He doesn’t mind blocking the smaller guys, but you ask him to block a d-end or Vontae Diggs, he relishes that opportunity.”

Daniels, who played for the Stampeders for three seasons before signing with the Eskimos this off-season, acknowledged that he was trying to send a message with his block on Wilson, a newcomer to Calgary this year.

“I mean, it’s just a tone we try to set. It’s a rivalry game, it’s a big game,” Daniels said. “It’s something I learned over there and have tried to put into my game. If you’re going to try to jam on a waggle, you’re asking for it. I just wanted to go ahead and set the tone. That was his first Labour Day game, so it’s a wake-up call.”

NOTES
The Stampeders removed starting defensive end Chris Casher from the starting lineup for Saturday’s game because he was involved in a car crash Thursday. It does not sound as if the crash was his fault, but Casher wasn’t fit to play this weekend. In his place, Da’Sean Downey and Anthony Johnson will play at d-end. Both guys have joined the Stamps since mid-July … The Stamps left third-string quarterback Montell Cozart at home for Saturday’s game. The decision was related to an injury to global player Asnnel Robo and Dickenson said there were salary-cap implications involved … Richard Sindani was added to the one-game injured list with a shoulder injury, although Dickenson acknowledged he might have been added to the six-game if the Stamps didn’t have a late-September bye week.

daustin@postmedia.com

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Source: calgarysun.com