OTTAWA — The Ottawa Redblacks say their focus is entirely on the Calgary Stampeders and not the upcoming bye week.
They would love nothing more than to head into the break on a winning note with a winning record.
The 2-2 Redblacks, who are on a two-game losing streak, know Friday’s game against the defending Grey Cup champion Stampeders (3-1) will be a challenge.
“We haven’t even discussed that there’s a bye week after,” said Redblacks coach Rick Campbell. “Guys are really focused. It’s a great opportunity to get a winning record and be 3-2 and that’s what we’re focused on.”
The Redblacks will be in tough against the more experienced Stampeders and will need to improve significantly from its last two performances.
A strong start would be key for Ottawa, something that has eluded them all season. The Redblacks have yet to pick up a point in the opening 15 minutes of a game. The team has managed to march down the field and get into scoring position, but has yet to capitalize on its opportunities.
“We’ve just got to make sure we’re executing at a high level,” said receiver Chris Williams.
“We give ourselves the best chance at winning if we do that and that will take care of itself.
“We’re still plugging away, it’s only Week 5 so we know we’ve got a long way to go, but it’s a good challenge for us. It’s a good team coming in and we’ll have to be ready to play.”
If the Redblacks have any hope of winning they will need to find a way to contain Jon Cornish, who many believe is just starting to find his stride. Two weeks ago the Redblacks gave up 46 points to the Edmonton Eskimos and know things could get ugly quickly if quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell is given too much time and opportunity.
“It’s a big game,” said defensive back Antoine Pruneau. “We’ve got to bring it and need to focus on our tackle for sure. We’ve missed too many tackles in the past two games, but this is not our identity. I know we can do better in that department.”
The Redblacks will have a few new faces in the lineup for Friday’s game.
Jeremiah Johnson will come in for Chevon Walker, who is nursing a minor injury. The Redblacks want to be cautious and feel Johnson, who filled in for Walker last season, is just as capable.
“Sitting back and watching is kind of hard for me because I’m a natural competitor,” said Johnson. “It’s a blessing to get this opportunity and show what I can do and try to get this team going in a positive motion.”
Defensive lineman Ettore Lattanzio is expected to make his CFL regular season debut. The Redblacks signed Lattanzio, an Ottawa native, as a free agent a couple of weeks ago after he was released by the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
“Everything’s kind of worked out in my favour,” said Lattanzio. “You have to count your blessings every time you get to play this game. I’m lucky I get to play at home. This is the most ideal circumstance. I’m very honoured.”
Notes: Other lineup changes include DE Aston Whiteside, who will get an opportunity to play, likely in place of Marlon Smith. LB David Hinds will replace Justin Cudworth.