The Elks, by definition, won a game & nine other thoughts

First Elks win since Labour Day. Was the game a giant mess? Unequivocally. But they’ll take it.

I watched the whole thing, and I sincerely hope you did not and you’re just here to read a bit about what happened because you were watching the Canadian men’s soccer team beat Mexico at Commonwealth Stadium.

 

The post-season pre-season

Toronto was definitely treating it like a pre-season game, with few regular starters and even an in-game quarterback switch. I don’t think Edmonton intentionally was, but they played like they were. A 13-7 score is what you’d expect, too. It even got off to a hot start with a 7-6 score just six minutes in, and then seven more points the whole rest of the game.

After the game, Jaime Elizondo identified missed tackles and dropped balls as two big signs of fatigue, and as he said there were certainly plenty of both.

The curious case of Derel Walker

There weren’t many interesting things happening, but Walker’s continued bizarre inability to jive with Taylor Cornelius was one of them. Final stat line for him: four catches on 13 targets for 63 yards. Those numbers are atrocious, yet until the fourth quarter it wasn’t remotely his fault.

Through three quarters Walker was 3-of-8, and on those five misses I don’t think he had a chance on any of them while the Argonauts could easily have intercepted at least two; genuinely, there were more interceptable throws than catchable ones. One of the ill-advised targets finally did get picked off with eight minutes left, Cornelius’s third interception in total and second in the end zone. In the fourth quarter, however, we saw two more inexcusable drops from Walker on actually catchable passes.

As hard as it may be to keep his head in the last couple games, it’s still his job. It would be great to see Walker have fun again.

Quite honestly, I would need proof to believe that his 32-yard catch in the first quarter wasn’t his first in the middle of the field all season. He’s been used so much as a screen or deep ball player.

Not the freshest Corn Dog

Cornelius was a better runner than a thrower on Tuesday night — and actually, so was his Toronto counterpart Antonio Pipkin. Cornelius had a terrific 18-yard touchdown run early and juked out an Argo defender for another 14 yards later on. But his passing game looked like it was all the way back to square one.

15-of-32 for 160 yards and three interceptions. Those aren’t even appropriate numbers for a preseason quarterback. He had to deal with a few receiver drops, most egregiously from Shai Ross on a well-thrown deep ball, but he also could have had significantly more than three turnovers and was generally off-target for much of the night. This is a big reason why we care about interceptable passes and not just actual interceptions, but even so he seemed to be improving at staying away from danger. Giving away points with messy end zone mistakes is a serious setback.

I don’t know what Coach Elizondo’s plans are for the last game, but I still don’t see how you avoid letting Dakota Prukop take some real game snaps, even if you remain insistent on not throwing Nick Arbuckle ‘into the fire’. It’s good that Elizondo was openly aware post-game that Cornelius could celebrate his first win even knowing that he played better in some losses.

The supporting cast

Most of the offence had a quiet night. Of the receivers, Jalen Tolliver and Tevaun Smith made the most of their opportunities with three catches on four targets each for 38 and 32 yards. James Wilder and Walter Fletcher both got work throughout the evening, not unexpectedly, and both were solid with nine and eleven carries for 56 and 55 yards, respectively. Fletcher was in for most of the second half, and given where the offence has had success in the last two weeks it was surprising that the Elks only attempted to use him once in the pass game, in a play that failed as soon as it started. Wilder was the same, only getting one target.

There’s so much talent

Thinking about the quality of players Edmonton had at their disposal never fails to be depressing – especially in the defensive secondary, where they lost an all-star candidate in Jonathon Mincy to injury and his rookie replacement, Nafees Lyon, has looked so good over a few games.

I’m really starting to get excited about him. Edmonton’s first interception was nearly his for a third straight game, but he was still directly responsible for it happening. In tight coverage, he had his hands on the ball but on landing it popped out – straight to Trumaine Washington who made no mistake.

I hope the 2022 coaching staff along with the management team, whoever’s on it, does a way better job of getting scoreboard results at least equal to roster quality.

Rude

I have a bone to pick with whatever backup official was running the command centre on a Tuesday night. Overturning Aaron Grymes’s first interception of the season was completely bogus, and he deserves better. Argos receiver Dres Anderson ran straight into Jonathan Rose to initiate minor contact, and frankly they separated before or at worst as the ball was thrown. There was absolutely nothing there that could be described as pass interference, so it was a nice bit of justice that at least Washington picked off the very next pass for his second of the night. As Duane Forde joked on the broadcast, somehow Washington is the only one allowed to make those plays.

Antlers first

The Elks did very well charging after Toronto’s quarterbacks, and were rewarded with five sacks for their efforts. Antonio Simmons wasn’t one to score a takedown but was still noticeable on multiple occasions, so good to know Trevor Harris wasn’t totally given away for free.

Ideally they would’ve done a better job spying the quarterback, but I’m not going to bother calling Pipkin’s run success concerning both because it’s the final week of the season and still Toronto only scored seven points. And, the Argonauts’ only touchdown was off a drive start at the Edmonton 17-yard line.

Between Pipkin and Cole McDonald, they were held to sub-50 completion percentage and 156 total passing yards. It’s what you’d expect against a B-team, but success is success.

Sean Whyte

Perfect. Two field goals from 22 and 35 yards, plus one convert.

It’s nice to get through a game without challenge, scoreboard, or clock management questions.

The finish line is in sight

Incidentally, Edmonton falls to second in the CFL draft order, finally passing Ottawa.

One more meaningless game in B.C. on Friday night and then it’s fully on to 2022.

Must Read