‘We deserve to be booed’: ‘Frustrated’ Elks blame ineffective offence, ‘questionable’ officiating for loss

Photo courtesy: Edmonton Elks

Sitting behind the podium after 32-16 home loss at the hands of their chief rival, Edmonton Elks head coach Jaime Elizondo was not a happy camper.

“I’m just really disappointed for our fans, our players. They deserve better,” he admitted stone-faced.

“I think that we’ve got to look at why. I don’t know, I’ll turn it over. I’m not sure if it’s mindset, but we made a big emphasis of protecting this house and we didn’t do it.”

When a coach criticizes his team for a failure to protect their house, it is usually an indictment of their defensive performance. On Saturday it was the opposite, as the Elks defence gave their teammates every chance to succeed and weren’tt rewarded. Halfback Trumaine Washington had Edmonton’s only touchdown on a pick six. His offence had none.

“It’s frustrating. It’s tough because our fans do such a great job and they deserve a winning club. Shoot, you heard the boos tonight and I don’t blame them. We deserve to be booed,” Elks quarterback Trevor Harris said after the game.

“We didn’t execute well offensively. It’s frustrating and it’s tough and we’ve got to be better for [the fans].”

The Elks struggled to get anything going on first down throughout the night and the result was a predictable passing attack that allowed a Calgary pass rush that entered the game last in sacks to get home seven times. That’s a result that Harris refused to blame on his offensive line.

“They’re professional football players and they get paid and they did a great job. It’s never on an o-line, it’s never just on one person in a game. We’ve got to take a look, a hard look, collectively as an offence and make sure that we’re doing things that keep defences off-balance and we’re taking the fight to them,” Harris stressed post-game. “I don’t think we did a very good job of that tonight, in general.”

For Elizondo, that failure falls directly on his own shoulders as the play-caller.

“I told those guys in that locker room, this one’s on me. I’ve got to be better for everybody,” he said. “We’ve got to be better offensively and it starts with me.”

Of course, a struggling offence wasn’t the only issue in Edmonton. The team committed 12 penalties for 125 yards, more than a third of their production offensively on the evening. Players were quick to point to that lack of discipline as a major factor in the loss, but Elizondo saw it differently. The Elks head coach believes that someone else is to blame for that particular issue.

“In the first three games, we had the fewest penalties. There were a lot of penalties that were thrown today that were not penalties,” Elizondo said of the officiating.

“Really that last illegal contact there late in the game when we got a chance to get the ball back… it was just some very questionable calls in my mind. I have to go back and look at them, we’ll submit them, but I don’t think it’s a matter of discipline.”

External factors like officiating might have played a role in this loss, but should these two teams meet again in the playoffs there will be plenty of external motivation for Edmonton. With the win secure, Calgary went deep to Kamar Jorden for a touchdown with 20 seconds left, securing the tiebreaker in the season series with some embarrassing salt in the wound.

It was a logical decision for the Stampeders which might ultimately earn them a playoff berth. After the game, Elizondo was either unaware of that fact or didn’t care as he seethed ominously.

“I think we all know when a game is in hand, so we’ll remember that one.”

J.C. Abbott is a University of British Columbia graduate and high school football coach. He covers the CFL, B.C. Lions, CFL Draft and the three-down league's Global initiative.