The old line in football during a training camp is the defence is usually ahead of the offence.
During Sunday’s scrimmage on The Brick Field at Commonwealth Stadium, the Edmonton Elks’ defence was the decisive winner over the offence.
Jamie Elizondo is the Elks head coach, and he also has the role of offensive co-ordinator. He was happy to see his defence have a strong outing — well, sort of.
“There are things we did not do well that we were doing well in practice,” Elizondo said.
“I’ll never make a judgment before looking at the film but I think once you amp up the nervousness, the intensity and the concentration, when things are flying around a little faster and the players don’t know the plays that are coming in and the sequences, there’s always a challenge in that regard.
“I think we have to continue to coach better, we have to continue to play better and just continue to get better over these next four or five days before the regular season.”
The starting offence led by quarterback Trevor Harris struggled on their first drive with Harris completing just one of four passes. On their second drive, Harris strung together four straight completions. In all, Harris completed five passes, two each to Greg Ellingson and Armanti Edwards and one to Shai Ross.
The defence recorded three interceptions all from the secondary. Albert Small picked off Troy Williams, Taylor Cornelius threw an interception to Darius Williams and safety Jordan Beaulieu recorded a pick 6 off Drew Anderson.
The offence was able to find the end zone twice during the scrimmage. Williams, who looks to have the backup quarterback role locked up, threw a touchdown pass to Kenny Shaw while quarterback Cornelius found Earnest Edwards for a major.
One bright spot from the offence on Sunday was the play of running backs James Wilder Jr., Terry Williams and Walter Fletcher, who produced a big play rush of 20 yards or more. That put a big smile on Harris’ face.
“Every championship football team runs the ball well, and if we can’t run the ball well, then it’s going to be a long season,” Harris said.
“That’s why we have #32 (Wilder Jr.), #5 (Williams) and #25 (Fletcher) here, and we have a tremendous stable of backs. James has been doing a great job and has been a leader for those guys. We’re lucky to have them, and we’re going to be looking for them to churning out and grinding out some tough yards, and we know they will.”
Some players will be happy with their play on Sunday and some won’t as the day will go a long way in determining the final roster for the regular season. Jamie Elizondo said he has around 80-85 per cent of the team picked already.
“If you’re disappointed in the way you played today, the fortunate part for you is you have four more practices,” Elizondo said. “There were some guys who had their head down after the scrimmage because they didn’t play as well as they had hoped, so they will have three or four more shots.”
The Elks will be off the field on Monday before returning on Tuesday morning to The Brick Field at Commonwealth Stadium to begin the final week of training camp.
The Elks will host the Ottawa Redblacks on Aug. 7.