Blue Bomber Report Record: 6–6–0

Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Ground zero for Bombers

The run game has contributed next to nothing to the Blue attack but that could change Friday

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Neither running back Nic Grigsby, nor the Bombers offensive line, has had much reason to be happy lately.

JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Enlarge Image

Neither running back Nic Grigsby, nor the Bombers offensive line, has had much reason to be happy lately. Photo Store

Eight games into the revival 2014 campaign, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers remain a work in progress when it comes to the ground game.

The team ranks ninth and last in rushing yards per game average -- 70, and average yards per rush -- four.

Questions have been raised about the offensive line's work, about backs finding holes, even play calling, especially in the last two outings, which yielded 37 yards rushing against Saskatchewan and 80 against Toronto.

Running back Nic Grigsby assured Bombers fans on Monday the team is focused on the issue and is working on it.

"We control what we can control back there," said Grigsby, who, oddly, is the CFL's leading individual rusher so far this season with 416 yards. "It's a team game, a team effort. One guy messes up, it messes everything up on the run. This is not just about running. Teams game plan to take guys out of the game. They want to force us to do something else, so if they're stopping our run, then that's what they're supposed to do that game.

"So we have to find another way to win. We've had opportunities to spring big ones and we did when we had the chance. Runs in this league are going to come. You've go to be patient."

Bombers head coach Mike O'Shea also asked for patience -- in not so many words -- after Monday's practice at Investors Group Field, where the Montreal Alouettes will visit on Friday.

"Just got to keep working," O'Shea said.

The coach was asked if new wrinkles or varying the approach to running might spring loose the backs.

"Not necessarily," he said. "I think the offence game plans with a certain amount of runs they go into every game with. They're not the same runs every week. They're runs designed to attack a defensive system and that changes week to week based on the system we're playing.

"I don't know that it's adding wrinkles. It's just commitment to it, which we're showing, and hard work. It's not easy to run the ball. We've got go keep working hard at it."

Grigsby, in fact, suggested the solution is not likely found with outside-the-box thinking.

"We just have to stick to our basics, come out and play, not do anything extraordinary or anything like that," he said. "We have to come out and be regular, do what we do and run that football."

Paris Cotton, who has also had some carries in the Winnipeg backfield, didn't think the backs could effect improvement all on their own.

"We have to step it up on the run game; it's obviously not as productive as we want it to be," Cotton said.

"We'll all come out here this week and try to do what we have to do to bring that up a bit. We have a long way to go. We obviously have stuff to work on, because we had a loss, and we're just coming out here and trying to get better. We'll show this Friday if we can do what we have to do."

Grigsby, who did have a 37-yard carry against the Argos in last week's loss, said there are always good signs to latch onto.

"It's the way the game is played. You get down certain times and the plan changes up because you can't run the football, then you have to throw the football," he said. "When we've got the lead, we've got to do a better job of managing the game, gaining yards. But this is a team effort."

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 19, 2014 C1

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Updated on Tuesday, August 19, 2014 at 7:57 AM CDT: Replaces photo, changes headline

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