The second of three games on Saturday afternoon was the final of three Labour Day rematches and looked to be one of the most intriguing matchups of the week. The Calgary Stampeders made the trip to Edmonton to take on the Elks in Bo Levi Mitchell’s return to the Stampeders lineup after the Elks looked to have gotten back on track in their back-to-back wins. Here are six takeaways from the game.
Bo Looks Shaky In Return
Bo Levi Mitchell was back in the lineup for the rematch against the Edmonton Elks after missing three games with a leg injury, but he didn’t return looking like his elite self. Particularly in the first half of this game, it looked like the Stampeders might be forced to go back to their rookie quarterback who had three consecutive games with 300+ passing yards in Jake Maier. The Stamps decided to stick it out with their franchise quarterback and ultimately got the win out of it, but it was pretty sketchy at times.
Mitchell completed just 54.8 percent of his pass attempts for 276, 50 of which came on one play to Kamar Jorden. Despite the struggles, I tend to agree with Dave Dickenson sticking with his guy, especially when it’s a player with one of the best win percentages all-time in the CFL. It may not have been pretty, but the Stampeders need Mitchell if they hope to win anything.
No disrespect to Maier, but when it comes time to win the big game, I would pick Mitchell every single time. He is one of the most successful quarterbacks in the league’s history for a reason, and pulling him in this game would have done more harm than good. He needs to get things back on track, but his presence almost seemed to will the Stampeders to victory in this game. They are never out of it when he’s in the game, much like you should never count out a team led by Tom Brady.
Trevor Harris Follows Up Great Performance With Bad One
It’s becoming frustrating to see this happen time and time again, but it’s also expected at this point. We talked ad nauseam before the season about how Trevor Harris is defined by his inconsistency, and after nearly two full years away from football, he hasn’t been able to find a cure for the bugaboo that has held him back his entire career. Remember when Henry Burris was described as “good Hank/bad Hank”? Well, it might be time that Harris gets one of those nicknames for himself.
It’s beyond unfortunate because Harris might be the most physically gifted quarterback in the CFL. His arm talent is unbelievable and when he’s playing well, he can fit the ball into tight windows and will very rarely make key mistakes. But that’s when he’s on. When he’s off, he’s careless with the football and seems wildly inaccurate. We’re only five games into the Elks season, and already, we have seen both sides of Harris, but it’s been more bad than good.
In the Labour Day game in Calgary, Harris was unstoppable and even won out Player of the Week award, but when it came time for the rematch, he looked pedestrian at best. Now, we can’t expect him to be 31/41 with 398 yards and four touchdowns every single game, but his lows are far too low for a team to win when he’s playing poorly. He has the talent, and I know people are probably tired ofus talking about this, but he needs to find consistency to take the next step as a professional quarterback in this league. He’s good enough to give his team a chance to win every single night.
Penalties, penalties, penalties. I suppose you may have enjoyed the game if you are a relative of one of the referees, but for everyone else, this game was bogged down by an unholy amount of flags. There were a combined 24 penalties for 235 yards between the teams. But that’s only the ones that were accepted. That doesn’t include the penalties that were declined or picked up all together.
We can all agree that there were far too many flags thrown in this game. It seems like there are games where they are virtually no flags thrown, and then out of the blue, there is a game where there is one every second play. Let’s let the boys play sometimes.
Inconsistency Bites Elks
This goes hand and hand with Harris’ inconsistency, but it’s also becoming an issue in the entire locker room for the Elks. The Elks just didn’t look too good on the day in any aspect. The defence was okay, but they folded in some critical moments of the football game. This absolutely isn’t only on Harris even though he played a role in the loss, but he was let down time and time again by his teammates.
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On their bad days, they are really bad. On their best days, they look like champions. If they could find the middle ground and play like that every single week, they would likely win a bunch of football games. As I said with Harris, their highs are really high, but their lows are far too low.
Stampeders Back in the Hunt
As crazy as it might sound with the Stampeders standing at 2-4, with the win against the Elks, they have brought themselves back into the hunt for a playoff spot. With the struggles of some of the other teams in the West division including the Elks and even the Saskatchewan Roughriders, things have opened up for them in the past week or so of the season.
What will it take for them to take advantage of this game and make the playoffs? Well, to be simple about it, winning their games the rest of the way, especially those against Western opponents. It’s obvious, but hey, if I came up with something else I would be lying.
Harris Goes Down… Again
One of the biggest factors that caused Harris and the rest of the Elks to look as bad as they did was the poor play of the offensive line. Harris was sacked seven times on the night and pressured many more. This has been somewhat of an issue for them all season long, and if they can’t correct it, it could be something that costs them a chance at a Grey Cup this winter.
Most of these pressures can be blamed on the offensive line, but there were certainly a couple of situations where Harris could have helped himself by getting rid of the ball earlier by either throwing it away or by giving the ball to his check down receiver who was open on a couple of these plays. Regardless, this needs to be better for the Elks going forward.
Passing Yards: Bo Levi Mitchell (CGY): 276
Rushing Yards: James Wilder Jr. (EDM): 62
Receiving Yards: Kamar Jorden (CGY): 159
Touchdowns: Jake Maier (CGY), Kamar Jorden (CGY): 1
Tackles: Darius Williams (EDM): 10
Special Teams Tackles: Brandon Pittman (EDM), Yurik Bethune (CGY): 3
Sacks: Stefen Banks (CGY), Shawn Lemon (CGY): 3
Interceptions: Richard Leonard (CGY), Trumaine Washington (EDM): 1
13th Man Sport’s Player of the Game
POTG: Stefen Banks
7 tackles, 3 sacks, 1 fumble recovery