EDMONTON -- On the occasion of the first CFL start for 24-year-old Tyson Pencer, the 2012 first-round draft pick who will start at right guard for the Bombers today, reporters decided to get some input from Edmonton Eskimos defensive end and talking machine Odell Willis, the former Bomber.
"He puts his pants on just like I do," Willis began. "He may come out there and pancake me... People have to realize, a couple of games, a season, that's nothing...
"I mean, we're going to introduce him to the CFL. That's our way on the O-line and D-line. I hope he comes out to play. I'm not going to underestimate him, any of those O-lineman. They get paid just like we do. I hope we have a good matchup."
He knows his team is under siege at 1-9, having lost eight straight, and Eskimos quarterback Mike Reilly is well aware that every team in the league is coming after him.
And he knows very well how successfully the Bombers blitzed the Saskatchewan Roughriders into submission last Sunday. But Reilly was very happy to voice the threat that goes along with a possible repeat of Bomber blitz-o-rama today.
"It's not a surprise," the well-spoken quarterback said Friday. "But there are ways to counteract that and when defences are going to go with that mentality, they'll leave themselves susceptible to big plays down the field and it doesn't mean the ball has to be thrown 50, 60 yards. You can get a five-yard catch with no support on a tackle, he makes one guy miss and it's a big play.
"Us as an offence, we have to realize it and make them pay when they bring that pressure."
Game on, Forrest
One popular question from an Edmonton reporter at Friday's media availabilities was why should fans care today about a 1-9 team playing a 2-8 team.
"Just because it's the CFL, you never know what's going to happen," said Bombers defensive lineman Bryant Turner.
The reach for 600
The Bombers try today for win No. 600 in franchise history.
The team's record since 1936 is 599-549-14.
Win No. 599, last Sunday at home, is being used as a rallying cry for today's game.
"The fans deserved it," Turner said. "That's the biggest rivalry in Winnipeg, between Winnipeg and Saskatchewan. Hopefully we can keep this ball rolling. It showed us we can play with anybody."
Said Bombers coach Tim Burke: "It came at a good time because we have great fan support and it's always good to have THAT win. That's the one everybody cares about."
Hey, look what happens...
Burke is very good at seeing the bigger picture and it would be wise to keep in mind his references to last Sunday's win.
"One of the biggest factors in the outcome of a game is the sack ratio, who gets the most, and the other one is turnover ratio and the last one is big plays.
"Last week, we managed to win the turnover battle (6-3), first time all year we did, and we won the sack battle (8-7) in a sack-fest."
Winnipeg, it should be noted, is a CFL-worst minus-17 in the takeaway/turnover game.
Ins and outs
Missing today for the Eskimos will be receiver Cary Koch, who's first on the team in catches, 42 and second in receiving yards, 516.
In fact, the Eskimos have three receivers, Koch, Fred Stamps and Nate Coehoorn, who have more yards than any Winnipeg receiver.
Terrence Edwards, at 339 yards on 28 catches, is the best Winnipeg can offer, at No. 25 in yards in the CFL.
There's a sort of vacuum to be filled today.
If you add up Winnipeg's average time of possession this season (24 minutes 50 seconds) to Edmonton's (27:21), you come up with nearly eight minutes short of a regulation CFL game.
So who will claim the time in the clash of the two teams worst in this category?
We're betting it has something to do with the outcome.
Fun with futility
The Eskimos, at 1-9, have matched their worst-ever first 10 games (1971).
The Bombers, at 2-8, are a grim 8-20 since the start of 2012.
Today's two teams rank No. 1 and No. 4 in all-time CFL winning percentage, and you have to go back to 1964 to find them both at about this same stage at the same time, when the 2-8 Eskimos played the 1-11-1 Bombers.