Blue Bomber Report Record: 6–6–0

Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Blue running game running on empty, running blind

Cotton, Grigsby combine for eight yards

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A sure sign a football team's running game might be in need of some attention:

Both quarterbacks -- the starter and the short-yardage specialist -- rush for more yards than the two regular running backs.

Ladies and gentlemen, we give you the Winnipeg Blue Bombers' rushing totals from Thursday's 23-17 loss to the Saskatchewan Roughriders:

-- QB Drew Willy -- two carries, 21 yards, one touchdown;

-- QB Robert Marve -- two carries, eight yards;

-- RB Nic Grigsby -- 10 carries, seven yards;

-- RB Paris Cotton -- one carry, one yard.

"It was tough," said Grigsby. "Saskatchewan came in and they played the run really good. Their D-line did a great job mixing everything up."

Grigsby was a factor as a receiver, leading the Bombers with seven catches for 61 yards. But the club's inability to establish any kind of ground game also allowed the Riders to tee off on QB Drew Willy in several second-and-long situations.

Saskatchewan finished with five sacks, three by defensive end John Chick.

The Bombers entered the game as the CFL's poorest rushing team and those numbers will drop farther with the club mustering just 37 yards along the ground.

Since Week 1, when Grigsby rushed for 122 and the team finished with 132, the Bombers have average only 58 yards rushing per game.

To compound matters, the complexion of Thursday's loss changed completely when the Riders opted at halftime to feed bruising Canadian Jerome Messam -- a player the Bombers could have scooped up when he was cut by Montreal earlier this year.

Messam finished with 126 yards on 19 carries as the Riders cranked out 186 yards along the ground, while former Bomber Will Ford finished with 39 yards on just six carries.

"We knew we had two tailbacks," Riders head coach Corey Chamblin told reporters in Regina on Friday. "(Offensive co-ordinator) George (Cortez) and I talked, it was real quick, and it was 'Let's give him a couple of runs also.' It was a great changeup for us. Both backs averaged 6.5 yards, he just had more carries."

Asked about the state of his running game Thursday after the game, head coach Mike O'Shea hid any worry he might have.

"I'm not too concerned about it," he said.

"That may sound silly, but what I really like -- and I said this before -- is (offensive co-ordinator) Marcel (Bellefeuille) is committed to keep trying. The idea is to have a balanced attack, which I think is important."

 

ed.tait@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @WFPEdTait

 

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 9, 2014 C3

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