EDMONTON — The second of three games on a packed Saturday afternoon of CFL action will feature a Labour Day rematch between the Calgary Stampeders and the Edmonton Elks.
In Week 5’s Labour Day Classic, Trevor Harris and the Elks exploded offensively to defeat the Stampeders 32-20. Entering Week 6 the Stamps will be travelling to Edmonton hoping to exact revenge and collect their second win of the season against their provincial rivals.
Rookie quarterback Jake Maier made CFL history as the Calgary pivot, becoming the first quarterback to throw for 300 yards in each of his first three career starts. However, this week it will be Bo Levi Mitchell making his return as the Stampeders signal caller.
Leading up to Saturday, Coach Dave Campbell was adamant on starting Mitchell, as long as the quarterback himself felt he could do so.
“If he says he’s good to go, I’m going to put him in there,” said Dickenson of Mitchell.
Mitchell will be making his first start since his Week 2 matchup against the BC Lions. The two-time Most Outstanding Player suffered a broken leg early in the season which forced him to miss the last three games.
Through the first two weeks of the 2021 season Mitchell was among the league leaders in passing yards, completing 44 of his 73 attempts for 542 passing yards and an average of 12.3 yards per catch.
In his first game back Mitchell will surely be leaning on the deep threat ability from the Calgary wide receivers, who have reeled in a league-high eight receptions of 30 yards or more.
Highlighted by the talent of Kamar Jorden, Markeith Ambles and Josh Huff, the Calgary passing offence has been among the best in the league, throwing for 1,487 passing yards while averaging nearly 300 yards per game. The trio of Ambles, Huff, and Jorden have combined for 1,062 receiving yards through their first five games.
A dangerous Stampeders passing offence is also accompanied by one of the best ground attacks in the league. Running back Ka’Deem Carey has carried the ball 57 times for Calgary and has scored a league-leading four rushing touchdowns.
Carey only saw six touches in the Battle of Alberta, something that the teams head coach is aware of and evaluating.
“I’m not going to force feed anything,” said Dickenson on his offence. “I’m going to let the defence dictate how we want to run our calls and I’m going to calls the play that I think has the most chance for success.”
As good as the Red and White offensive unit has looked to start the season, they have struggled when it comes to scoring the ball, specifically in the red zone.
Calgary has been one of the most effective teams in the league at giving themselves opportunities to score. Their 16 trips to the red zone are the most of any team, however the Stamps have only managed to score seven touchdowns.
Simply getting to the red zone will not be enough for Calgary to best what has shown to be a tough Elks defence to score on. The Elks have had to defend their own end zone nine times through four games and have allowed just four scores.
The Edmonton defence is headlined by an impressive secondary. Their defensive backfield has surrendered the fewest passing yards of any team to start the season, allowing 184.5 passing yards per game and allowing only two passing touchdowns, the fewest among all teams.
The home team Elks boast an equally as impressive offence entering Saturday’s Labour Day rematch.
In Week 5 against the Stampeders, the Elks played their most well-rounded game of the season. Harris missed on just 10 of his 41 passing attempts passing for 398 yards and four touchdowns. The Edmonton pivot had thrown just three touchdowns on the season prior to last Saturday’s game.
The Elks’ Week 5 passing attack featured eight different receivers targeted. Four Green and Gold receivers recorded games with 50 or more receiving yards, including Mike Jones who caught four of his five targets for 107 yards and a touchdown.
Saturday’s game will feature another opportunity for the Double E to exploit a Calgary defence that has been susceptible to allowing big passing plays.
The Stamps defence has allowed the most air yards in the league allowing teams to pass 1,598 total yards and an average of 319.6 per game. They have also shown to be vulnerable defending the pass on first down, allowing a league high 100 passing first downs.
Calgary’s defensive struggles have not gone unnoticed by the players, and they remain focused on correcting their mistakes and maintaining intensity for four quarters.
“First, start off that way and then for the rest of the game keep the intensity,” said third year linebacker Jameer Thurman. “We have to be on point on every single play of the game.”
As Mitchell looks to revitalize the Stampeders with their second win of the season, the Elks will be defending their home turf looking to bring their fans the first home win of their season.
If last week’s Labour Day Classic is any indication of what is to come, this Saturday’s Labour Day rematch is sure to bring fans an intense, hard-nosed football game.
Kickoff is slated for 7:00 p.m. ET on TSN, RDS and ESPN+ and can also be followed along on CFL.ca’s Game Tracker.