1) Modest McCarty: After Travon Van left the game with a neck injury, 11-year Eskimos veteran Canadian Calvin McCarty filled in admirably. The veteran Canuck had 11 carries for 45 yards to provide some balance in the run game, but it was pass protection where he shined most. McCarty did a fantastic job helping provide Mike Reilly with extra time, one play, in particular, provided a glowing example. With under 12 minutes left in the second quarter, Edmonton backed up on their own two-yard-line, second and 10, McCarty stepped up on blitzing linebacker Solomon Elimimian and stopped him from pressuring the quarterback. That allowed Reilly the room to lay out a perfect pass to Vidal Hazelton for a franchise-record 108-yard touchdown completion.
2) Vivacious Vidal: Edmonton has reaped the rewards by integrating Vidal Hazelton at their own pace. He was signed in October last year, part of a trio of receivers that Toronto let go, but did not play in a game for the Eskimos down the stretch or in the playoffs. That time allowed Hazelton to become comfortable with the playbook, develop a rapport with Mike Reilly in training camp and earn the starting boundary receiver role. The 29-year-old has already surpassed his yardage total from eight games with the Argos in 2016 (385 to 361).
3) Whatcha talkin’ bout Willis: Odell Willis was making noise on defence, as we’ve become accustomed to over his career. Willis made four tackles and took down Travis Lulay two times which was part of Edmonton’s ‘D’ holding B.C. to 259 passing yards with the 2011 CFL MOP coming off back-to-back 400-yard games. Since J.C. Sherritt went down with a season-ending Achilles injury in Week 1, Willis has been wearing a towel with his number on it to honour his teammates and clearly become the leader of that unit. To go along with his defensive effort, Willis showed he can be an emergency kicker too, booting a kick-off 43 yards with Sean Whyte out of the game.
4) Canadian contributor: Kwaku Boateng has quickly emerged as a force on an otherwise all-American Eskimos defensive front. The Wilfrid Laurier University graduate notched his first career sack on Friday, taking down Travis Lulay. He’s been close on other occasions and at the very least been applying consistent pressure when in the game at defensive end. Somehow Boateng dropped to the fifth round, which means even Edmonton passed him up a few times. He’s taken advantage of his chances to rush the passer while being used as a rotational defensive end who also plays on special teams. It appears, even though it’s early, that the Eskimos found a great value in Boateng.
5) Injuries and special teams: Edmonton was able to make due with Sean Whyte and Travon Van, who started at running back and handled punt return duties, out of the game. Brandon Zylstra saw some action returning and Chris Edwards handled the kick-offs, the backup defensive back broke off an 87-yarder that led to a field goal. It’s not ideal to have your starting running back handle return duties as well, so even if Van is fine you have to imagine Jason Maas and Brock Sunderland are exploring various roster iterations to fill that role.