It’s a statistic the Calgary Stampeders can’t help but notice. In the column marked ‘turnovers’ a big zero stands beside the Saskatchewan Roughriders. They are the embodiment of the old football saw that says winning teams take care of the football.
However, that doesn’t stop the Stampeders from wanting to end that turnoverless-streak.
“Hey, I got a pretty good record against Saskatchewan on turnovers and touchdowns,” smiled Calgary defensive lineman Cory Mace. Mace returned a fumble 60 yards for a touchdown against Saskatchewan in 2010.
But Mace realizes his more pressing goal will be to shutdown Saskatchewan’s impressive running back Kory Sheets.
|Something has to give|
After just three games, Calgary has a score differential of +34, good enough for second in the league. The Stamps have also lost their two games by just three points or less.
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“He’s established himself as a good back in this league,” noted Mace.
“At the same time he’s a running back, he’s got the ball and we’re going to have to put him down.”
Securing the football is something the Calgary Stampeders will need to improve on, entering their game with the first-place Riders. The Stamps have committed 10 turnovers in their first three games, a fact that has caught head coach John Hufnagel’s eye.
“You look at the stats and it’s about 50-50 with them better than us in some and we’re better in some. But the thing that is clear about them, is their turnovers. They’ve done a nice job hanging on to the football,” noted Hufnagel.
This game will also mark the start of Kevin Glenn at the quarterback controls for the Calgary Stampeders. On Sunday, Drew Tate elected to undergo surgery to repair his injured left shoulder. The surgery was performed on Tuesday in Calgary.
While Tate is holding out hope he can return in 2012, the team is less optimistic about seeing him on the field this year
“I’m trying not to worry about it” noted Tate,”I’m just going to get working on getting back on the field. Just worry about getting back as fast as possible, that’s what I’m focusing on.”
However, the realization that his season is over still stings. After all, this is a player who waited five years on two teams before earning a starting spot. He did consider battling through the injury, remaining on the field.
“There was that (continuing to play), but then they started to talk about putting a brace on, then that could alter my throwing motion. In college, I had an abdominal strain and I overcompensated for that and that is when you get tears or strains,” said Tate.
Tate’s absence turns the ball over to Glenn. Glenn was the starter in Montreal on July 12. He had the team leading entering the fourth quarter but the Stamps ended up on the wrong end of a 33-32 score.
Glenn ‘s arrival on the field is the biggest change for the Stampeders entering the Saskatchewan game, but far from the only move.
Veteran corner Keon Raymond will sit with a groin strain. His roster spot will be taken by defensive back/linebacker Marvin White.
White will create quite a stir at McMahon Stadium the moment he enters the game. He will become the first player to wear jersey number 20 since Doug Flutie left the team after the 1995 season. The number was never formally retired, just never re-issued, until now.
Six-year Canadian defensive lineman Justin Phillips is also expected to return. He underwent minor knee surgery in training camp and was on the sidelines for the first three games. Receiver Jabari Arthur is expected to sit for an extended period as he battles leg injuries.
The Stampeders handled Saskatchewan in all four meetings last season but the Roughriders are a completely different squad under former Stampeder assistant Cory Chamblin. This game is Saskatchewan’s only appearance in Calgary in 2012 while the Stampeders have two more dates in Regina.
Mark Stephen is Sports Director of CHQR Radio in Calgary and has broadcast Calgary Stampeder games since 1996. Follow Mark on Twitter @MarkonFootball.