EDMONTON — Edmonton Eskimos head coach Richie Hall had a lot questions Tuesday and few answers.
He had adjectives to describe his 2-7 team’s most humiliating effort of the CFL season, a 52-5 loss to the rival Calgary Stampeders on Labour Day.
“Embarrassing, unacceptable, not-happy-with-it, very disappointing, very frustrated — all the adjectives that aren’t positive adjectives that coincide with what I just said,” he told reporters.
“A high school team could have beat us.”
But the solutions were a lot more ambiguous.
It was a failure of fundamentals that cost the team on Monday, Hall said.
“It doesn’t matter regarding Xs and Os. You still got to block, catch, tackle, run and cover.
“We are not doing anything consistently on any area to sit there and give praise towards.”
Edmonton had just 11 first downs and five yards rushing on Monday.
The receivers dropped passes and the quarterbacks threw interceptions. Starter Ricky Ray went 9 for 22 for 157 yards and a pair of interceptions. Back-up pivot Jared Zabransky didn’t fare much better, going 3-of-8 passes for just 36 yards in addition to being picked off twice.
Meanwhile, the defence was shredded.
Stamps quarterback Henry Burris went 15 for 23 for 226 yards, with three touchdowns. Backup Drew Tate was 6-of-7 passes for 96 yards and another major. The Stamps had another 188 yards and one score on the ground.
The loss came just two weeks after Hall used the bye week to proclaim the start of the Eskimo’s real season.
Having stumbled to a 1-6 record at that point and having fired general manger Danny Maciocia, Hall pointed out that everything is not lost and it looked like the players got the message. They toughed out a 17-14 win against the Saskatchewan Roughriders the following week.
The Labour Day loss, however, had the team right back in the West division cellar.
The Eskimos did move to plug one gap Tuesday.
The team swung a deal with the Roughriders to acquire Canadian offensive guard Kelly Bates in exchange for a pick in the 2014 Canadian college draft.
The nine-year CFL veteran signed as a free agent with the Riders in February 2010, but he was placed on the nine-game injured list on June 24 after sustaining an elbow strain in training camp.
“Right now the record to me is irrelevant,” Bates said. “I know a lot of the guys in this room. I know the pride that they have and what football means to them. You don’t come to work day in and day out if you don’t want to win.”
Hall wouldn’t say who Bates will replace.
And other holes remain.
Hall said injuries to running back Arkee Whitlock and fullback/special teamer Chris Ciezki are serious enough that they likely won’t be available when the Eskimos face the Stampedes again on Friday.
Hall said he would be comfortable with Ray as a starter Friday, but he did note that he will sit down with all three quarterbacks before the game and talk it out.
“I haven’t lost faith — lets just say very frustrated with how our season has gone,” Hall said.
“But I do believe we will get it turned around.”