OTTAWA — Six days between games is considered a short week in the CFL, but for the Ottawa Redblacks a shot at redemption can’t come soon enough.
After falling 31-1 in Winnipeg to the league-leading Blue Bombers last week, the Redblacks are looking to end a three-game losing streak when they host the Calgary Stampeders on Thursday.
“We had a short week and we only had two days of practice but you want to get that taste out of your mouth and everyone knows that,” Redblacks quarterback Jonathan Jennings said Wednesday.
“It just didn’t feel very good and we’re excited to get back on the field and get another opportunity.”
Jennings will be making his second start at pivot for the Redblacks in place of the injured Dominique Davis. He will want to improve on a poor season debut that saw him throw for just 45 yards with no touchdowns and an interception on 6-of-15 passing.
“Play fast, get the ball out of my hands and be efficient,” is how he plans to do that, but he will need help from his teammates, including running back John Crockett, who had 88 yards rushing last week and was one of the few bright spots for Ottawa.
“He’s a guy that runs hard and brings good energy and he’ll just keep getting better the more playing time he gets,” Redblacks coach Rick Campbell said of the former North Dakota State product, who will suit up for the third time this season.
Campbell said getting the offence to flow will be vital against a Stampeders team that has been competitive even without star quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell, who is recovering from a shoulder injury. Backup Nick Arbuckle will make his fourth consecutive start.
“They have a pretty good knack for plugging and playing and we still fully expect them to run their offence and do their thing, and Arbuckle is a competitive guy and doing a good job for them,” Campbell said.
“They present a big challenge. They do a good job of mixing their game plan up week-to-week and they’re not overly predictable so we’ve just got to make sure we have all our bases covered.”
Jennings knows the Stampeders very well, having spent the past four seasons in the same division while with the B.C. Lions. He said the Redblacks need to be prepared for a drawn-out battle.
“Be patient. Stay patient. It’s going to be a long game and you’ve just got to allow the game to come to you and make your reads one play at a time,” he said. ”You can’t try to force the issue too much because if you do you’re in trouble.”
CALGARY STAMPEDERS (3-2) AT OTTAWA REDBLACKS (2-3)
Thursday, TD Place
DOUBLE BACK: Having twice lost to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers this season, the Redblacks will be looking to turn the same trick on the Stampeders. Ottawa won the season opener for both teams 32-28 in Calgary June 15, and the Redblacks will be looking for their first season sweep of the Stamps.
CROSS-COUNTRY RIVALRY: Despite being in different divisions on opposite sides of the country, there’s something to be said about the history between Calgary and Ottawa. The teams have met in the Grey Cup twice over the last five years, with each side winning one championship each.
TIME TO CHANGE THE BATTERY: With long snapper Louise-Philippe Bourassa being suspended for the next two games for a doping violation, veteran Mike Benson has been added to the roster to fill those duties. He’ll have to get up to speed quick, as the trio of Bourassa, holder Richie Leone and kicker Lewis Ward have combined on 61 straight regular-season field goals.