Tre Ford was a part of a very popular hashtag on social media. #freetreford has been trending on ‘X’ for weeks as the Edmonton Elks are experiencing their worst start in CFL history at 0-8.
Tre Ford has now been freed and he will start at quarterback for the Elks as they host the Winnipeg Blue Bombers at Commonwealth Stadium on Thursday night.
Ford has seen himself this season as the backup to Taylor Cornelius, to being off the roster, and most recently as the number three quarterback behind Cornelius and Jarret Doege.
Ford, along with new offensive coordinator Jarious Jackson, will try to spark an Elks offence that has only scored 10 offensive touchdowns in total out of 108 drives and has scored an average of just over 12 points per game. The Elks are last in average net yards per game (290.3) and first downs (128). They’re eighth in average passing yards per game (229.6) and average rushing yards per game (79.6).
Ford, the Elks’ eighth overall draft pick in 2022, won his first CFL start last season in Hamilton. He suffered a chest injury against the Calgary Stampeders a week later, which would keep him out for two months. Ford would start the final game of the season for the Elks against the B.C. Lions.
His numbers from 2022 were not mind-blowing, as he passed for a total 461 yards and threw two touchdown passes and five interceptions. Ford showed why he’s a threat to run as he recorded 149 yards and put up a rushing average of 7.8 yards per carry.
Ford didn’t get the chance to work with the starting offence for much of the season. He is bringing the team a much-needed dose of energy and enthusiasm and also appears to be very confident heading into his first start of the season.
“I definitely can feel the chemistry coming together and I’m just having a great time out there and I feel the receivers are having a great time as well,” Ford said. “Just moving the ball, we are having a lot of success and it’s a lot of offence on the field which is nice.
“I can’t wait to bring it on game day.”
With Jarious Jackson now calling plays, he brings an element which usually bodes well for an offence, which is Jackson’s experience as a CFL quarterback. Jackson dressed for 126 games and started in 26 games for both the B.C. Lions and the Toronto Argonauts.
Ford says having Jackson as the offensive coordinator means an understanding of the quarterback position and better communication.
“It’s definitely ideal to have a coordinator as an ex-quarterback because quarterback is a hard position in general but when you have someone who can help you break down all of the reads and how the whole offence works,” Ford said. “I feel like offensive coordinators who are ex-quarterbacks can tend to make the offence slightly easier for the quarterback.”
Elks QB Tre Ford on his excitement level of running an offence led by offensive coordinator Jarious Jackson
Ford says Jackson will take feedback well. Ford didn’t like a particular play that was called in practice this week so he expressed his concern to Jackson, who responded by taking that particular play out for Ford.
Elks head coach Chris Jones says even with Ford starting, he expects to see playing time for Jarret Doege and Taylor Cornelius, who will now operate short-yardage duties.
Now the Elks will allow the opportunity to Let Tre Cook and lead their new-look offence.
Many happy returns
The injury bug has been nagging the Elks for the last few weeks but the team is expected to get much healthier starting on Thursday.
Returning from the six-game injured list are receiver Manny Arceneaux (knee) and defensive back Ed Gainey (knee) against the Bombers.
Both players will add a veteran presence to both sides of the ball.
For Gainey, he will lineup alongside corner Marcus Lewis on the short-side of the field. The Elks secondary is young with Marloshawn Franklin at safety, along with Darrius Bratton and Kai Gray, who occupy the wide-side of the field.
Jones says adding Gainey to the mix will be a benefit for the young player.
“He’s just another guy with a little bit of experience,” Jones said. “You got Loucheiz Purifoy, who has been carrying the load as far as the experience level goes. To add Ed and his years of experience, it helps where you have one guy on one side of the field and one guy on the other and hopefully we can make sure we don’t have any missed assignments.”
Gainey was injured after an interception in a Week 2 game against the B.C. Lions in Vancouver when he was hit by Lions receiver Jovan Cottoy, causing him to lose the football.
Cottoy also landed on Gainey when he was on the ground. There was concern Gainey would be out for months but as it turns out, it was weeks, much to the relief of the veteran defensive back.
“It’s year 11 for me and to get injured in Week 2 was very devastating,” Gainey said. “Being out for the last six games has been really tough so I’m very happy and ecstatic to get out there and compete and just help my team get that edge.”
Elks DB Ed Gainey on his return to the lineup after missing six games with a chest/shoulder injury
Keep your mitts to yourself
The Edmonton Elks took 13 penalties for 177 yards in their loss to the Lions. Four penalties were for defensive pass interference for which Marcus Lewis was rung up twice. To help curb some bad habits of clutching and grabbing, Lewis along with a couple of other members of the Elks secondary, donned some oven mitts.
“Last week, I got some holding penalties so I’m just trying to keep my hands off guys after five yards,” Lewis said. “It helps with technique and you need your feet and your legs more than anything. So keeping your hands off by wearing the mitts, I think it helps.”
Elks DB Marcus Lewis wearing something unusual to football and explains the method behind it
Jones says overall his team has been disciplined and also wonders why a team like the Winnipeg Blue Bombers has a low penalty number for the last few seasons.
“We have to place more emphasis on penalties and we’re averaging around nine per game and Winnipeg is sitting at the bottom with six,” Jones said.
“It’s three more per game so I need what (Bombers coach) Mike O’Shea has got in the bottle over there because for three years they’ve averaged — from 2019 to 2022, they averaged 6.5 penalties per game. I know he’s a good coach but we’ve got to bottle whatever he’s got and sell it to the NFL.”
Elks head coach Chris Jones on getting Kevin Brown going and number of penalties his team has taken compared to the Bombers this season
The Elks host the Winnipeg Blue Bombers on Thursday night at Commonwealth Stadium. 630 CHED will have live coverage starting with Countdown to Kick-off at 5:30 p.m., the opening kick-off will be at 7 p.m.