EDMONTON — The Edmonton Elks will look to rebound from a tough loss to the BC Lions suffered in Week 9, as they prepare to host the Saskatchewan Roughriders to close out Week 10 from Commonwealth Stadium.
Edmonton was at the mercy of BC’s Nathan Rourke as they were defeated 46-14 in the Week 9 meeting with the West Division opponent.
The Roughriders enter the new week of league action returning from a Week 9 bye, last seeing the field in Week 8 as they suffered a 32-17 defeat at the hand of the Rourke-led Lions.
The Elks managed 219 yards and just two scores from their offensive unit in the Week 9 meeting with the Leos. Edmonton will look to improve their offensive production and scoring efficiency as they hope to come away with a win over the Riders in Week 10.
With quarterback Tre Ford being placed on the six-game injured list last week, it will continue to be Taylor Cornelius taking snaps from under centre. Cornelius threw for 183 yards and a touchdown against the Lions. Saturday’s matchup will mark the first time Cornelius will see the Riders in 2022.
Cornelius had two of his best outings of the 2021 season with his two starts versus the Roughriders a year ago. The Elks’ signal-caller completed 41 of his 65 attempts for 546 yards and five touchdowns.
Receiver Derel Walker was strong in his return to the field last week, pulling down seven catches for 91 yards to lead all Elks wideouts in the contest.
Kenny Lawler and Emmanuel Arceneaux were held to 35 and 19 yards. In his team’s first meeting with the Riders, Lawler caught 12 passes for 149 yards. The Elks will be hoping for a similar performance from their top receiver.
Additionally, the Riders allow a league worst 287.8 passing yards per game, which should have Edmonton feeling confident as they look for a bounce back performance.
On the ground, Edmonton is still without starting running back James Wilder Jr, meaning that Ante Milanovich-Litre, Maleek Irons and backup quarterback Kai Locksley will be tasked with contributing to the rush attack against a Saskatchewan defence that has given up 77.3 rushing yards per game, the second lowest mark in the league.
The Elks defence surrender the most yards per game through the air and the second most on the ground. Defensive lineman Jake Ceresna had his first sack last week, a number he could add to this week against the Riders offensive line that has struggled to protect quarterback Cody Fajardo, allowing a league-worst 29 sacks.
In speaking with team media earlier this week, Elks head coach Chris Jones outlined what it will take in order to secure a win over a tough Riders team.
“The preparation is there, now it’s a matter of taking it to the game,” Jones told GoElks.com. “Everyone knows what’s at stake. We have to do a better job of protecting our side of the field and becoming a finish team.”
Fajardo threw for 168 yards and a touchdown in his team’s Week 8 meeting against the Lions. He was also responsible for throwing an interception in the game, an irregularity in the quarterback’s play, as Fajardo has thrown just six interceptions this season.
The Saskatchewan pivot believes his team will be ready to have a much needed strong start against the Elks on Saturday. The quarterback described himself as feeling explosive ahead of Saturday’s matchup in Edmonton.
“I left here pretty frustrated, but I came back with a positive attitude,” Fajardo told Riderville.com. “I think mental health and physical health are tailor made together. Physically I feel really good, I feel explosive again. I feel confident in what I have in my legs. I’m excited to hit the field.”
With a strong belief in his receivers, Fajardo now feels that is his job to make better reads and lead his receivers with passes that will put them in better positions for offensive success.
“I want to throw some more accurate footballs,” he told Riderville.com. “Watching tape and throughout the week I assessed myself. I found that I created some bad habits with my injury that led to some inaccurate footballs, so I really tried to focus on that leading up to this game.”
The Riders offence largely hinges on the success of their run game. Running back Jamal Morrow has carried the ball 91 times for 484 yards. He averaged 5.9 yards per carry against a Lions defence that has statistically been the toughest team to run against.
Defensively, the Riders have been one of the best at creating pressure situations for opposing quarterbacks, leading the league with 28 sacks through the first nine weeks of play.
Defensive lineman Pete Robertson, is tied for the league-lead with seven sacks, however he has been sidelined since Week 5 action with an injury.
Linebacker Larry Dean leads the team with 49 defensive tackles, while linebacker Derrick Moncrief and defensive back Nick Marshall both have three interceptions. Defensive lineman Charleston Hughes has also forced three fumbles. Saskatchewan will be reliant upon their agressive group of defensive playmakers to force the Elks into turnover situations.
Both teams are looking to get back in the win column after losses to BC. With a win the Riders will move above .500 to 5-4. The Elks are looking for their first win since they beat Montreal in Week 6.
Kickoff from Edmonton is set for 10:00p.m. ET and the game can be seen on TSN, ESPN+ and can be followed along on CFL.ca’s Game Tracker.
– With files from GoElks.com and Riderville.com.