Takeaways from the Eskimos season-opening victory

It took a while to turn my feelings about Edmonton’s 32-25 victory into some thoughts on the game.

The seven-point deficit probably flattered the Alouettes, but there were reasons for the game being that close. The Eskimos were nearly unstoppable on offence — except for when they sabotaged themselves. Edmonton committed multiple turnovers and took 14 penalties for 118 yards (though in fairness the Als weren’t much better at 12 for 103 yards). If those numbers don’t scream ‘Week 1’, not much does.

Some more thoughts on the game:

– Ah, the beauty of small samples: Trevor Harris is on pace for over 8,000 passing yards; CJ Gable for 2,700 rushing yards; Ricky Collins for over 3,000 receiving yards; and Kenny Stafford for 36 TDs.

– Harris took all of the short yardage sneaks himself, which answers one question of the post-Reilly era in Edmonton. It was a gutsy call to go for it on third and almost two in the third quarter. Harris got close, but the football Gods were not generous with the spot.

– I sincerely hope coach Maas never calls another swing or screen pass in his life. It’s not a new phenomenon that whenever Edmonton attacks the field laterally bad things seem to happen.

– I’ve started thinking CJ Gable looks a lot like a compact version of Jerome Messam — the same style of power back but with quicker feet. Special credit goes to the offensive line, who in addition to paving the way for Gable’s outstanding night kept Harris upright.

– The Esks defence played pretty great — until they didn’t. Their first half was exemplary: it took the Collins fumble, a Money Hunter fumble on a punt return, and a questionable roughing the passer call to get the Als into scoring range. Pipkin and Posey capped off the series with a beautifully run corner route for a touchdown and seven of Montreal’s eight first half points. Then Don Unamba got hurt on the last play of the first half — which was, naturally, a meaningless play — and didn’t play a snap in the second half. With Jovan Santos-Knox already out due to injury, that’s two-thirds of the Esks’ shiny new linebacking trio unavailable. The Als’ offence had a much stronger second half with Vernon Adams Jr. under centre.

– Hunter had a rough first half sequence when he fumbled a punt return, got beaten by Posey for the Als first touchdown, then took an unnecessary roughness penalty in the second quarter. His second half was better, but the Esks are counting on Hunter to make a lot of progress from his rookie season.

– It’s only one game, but the Esks appear to have kick return issues… again. Edmonton started drives on their own: 28; 28, off a safety; 14; 10, off a safety with a flag; 13; 24; and the 40. Return man Jordan Robinson didn’t have his best night but, just like last year, the problems go beyond the returner. Fortunately the offence bailed them out.

– Vontae Diggs did the most he could to avoid contact with a sliding Vernon Adams Jr. but drew a flag anyways on a possible sell-job. CFL refs. C’est la vie.

– My feel-good story of the game: loooooooong-time Esks fullback Calvin McCarty caught the first pass of the night, finishing with two catches for 12 yards. And the Fred Stamps retirement ceremony, of course.

– Next up? Some guy named Mike Reilly and the B.C. Lions, Friday at Commonwealth Stadium.

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