EDMONTON ELKS (0-2) at CALGARY STAMPEDERS (2-0)
Saturday, 5 p.m.; TV: TSN; Radio: 770 CHQR; Line: Calgary -7.5
Weather: 19 C; sunny; wind 11 km/hour
FIVE THINGS TO WATCH
IS BO PLAYING?
It seemed like everything was going smoothly for Stamps quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell after he recovered quickly from an ankle injury suffered in Week 1. On Thursday, though, he stopped taking reps with the starters midway through practice because his ankle was giving him trouble. Is he playing Saturday? We’ll see. He’s listed as a game-time decision.
Nick Arbuckle spent the first couple of years of his CFL career in Calgary, backing up Mitchell and stepping in admirably when the Stamps star went on the six-game injured list early in the 2019 season. Now in Edmonton, Arbuckle has thrown for 569 yards in two games for the Elks this season. The Stamps have allowed the second-most passing yards in the CFL so far this campaign, so it’s possible that Saturday will be an opportunity for Arbuckle to put up big numbers against his former team.
The Stampeders have not been very good in the first half of either of their two games this season. They’ve allowed 24 points in both games, which is too much, plain and simple. The Stamps are rightfully the favourite going into Saturday’s game, but it’s imperative that they find a way to start faster.
It’s probably pretty hard for the Stampeders to review tape of the Elks’ first two games and come to any meaningful conclusions about their provincial rivals. The Elks were flat out terrible in Week 1 against the B.C. Lions, losing 59-15. In Week 2 against the Saskatchewan Roughriders, though, they were a lot better and hung tight for three quarters before falling 26-16. If they make a similar jump this week, who knows, they might be able to give the Stamps a scare.
The Stamps have an inexperienced defensive backfield, and the loss of Tre Roberson means they’ll be starting rookie Diontae Ruffin at boundary corner. That may be an area the Elks choose to target, and with Kenny Lawler – the league’s best-paid receiver – out there, the Stamps may have their hands full. Lawler’s capable of giving the most experienced DBs a hard time, so he’s surely looking forward to matching up with a talented, but young Stamps DB group.
Elks RB James Wilder Jr. vs. Stamps LB Jameer Thurman
Wilder played pretty well against the Stamps last season and it only makes sense that the Elks are going to try to get him involved early and often. The Stamps’ d-line is a formidable force and with Thurman right behind them, it’s not easy to run the ball against them. The linebacker is going to need to do what he always does and move fast to the ball and put all his weight into tackling the big-bodied Wilder.
Receiver Derel Walker is back for the Elks after missing last game, and that should add to their aerial arsenal … The Stamps definitely feel like they dodged a bullet last week after running backs Ka’Deem Carey and Peyton Logan both got hurt against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in Week 2. Fortunately, both guys are available Saturday … First-round draft pick Jalen Philpot will be making his professional debut for the Stampeders. Expect him to field a lot of kicks, as the Stamps had to drop returner Shawn Bane from the lineup … If Mitchell plays, it will be his 150th career CFL game. He’s got more career wins against Edmonton than any other team, and has a 13-4 record against them … Lawler set career highs with 17 targets and 12 receptions last week. The guy is a beast. We should seriously be expecting the Elks to feed him the ball, a lot.
Stamps 33, Elks 10
We can try to make this interesting, but all evidence suggests the Stampeders are just a better team than the Elks right now. Whether it’s Mitchell or Jake Maier at quarterback, they should be able to move the ball. While the Calgary defence needs to prove it can play for a full four quarters, it has shown signs that it could be elite.