When the Edmonton Elks promoted Jarious Jackson offensive coordinator and Tre Ford the starting quarterback in late-July, head coach and general manager Chris Jones said his team needs to a run-first style of offence.
It’s the CFL after-all — more of a passing league than a running league.
Over the last six games, the Elks have delivered on Jones’ demand, averaging 224 yards rushing in that time span with running back Kevin Brown averaging 117 yards per game and over eight yards per carry.
On Tuesday, Brown, along with the Elks offensive line, were named to the CFL and Pro Football Focus honour roll for Week 15. Brown recorded 19 carries for 175 yards and a touchdown in the Elks 36-27 win over the Saskatchewan Roughriders. Brown averaged 9.2 yards per carry and six rushes of 10 yards or more and two rushes of 20 yards or more.
In the first eight games of the season, Brown was averaging just 42.7 yards per game. Now, Brown is a 1,000 yard rusher for the first time in his young CFL career and says after pressing too much early in the season, he’s playing loose and free.
“I stopped thinking less and I’m just relaxed, clearing my mind and playing free,” Brown said. “I’m just trying to play more relaxed and once you do that and you’re having fun, it all comes back naturally.”
Elks running back Kevin Brown on the success he’s enjoying lately in his first 1,000-yard CFL season
The offensive line has helped in the Elks having the number one rushing unit in the CFL, averaging 133.4 yards per game. The Elks have recorded at least 200 yards rushing for three straight games and have helped Tre Ford to record 471 yards rushing, and have the third best completion percentage in the CFL (69.2%) and the third-best quarterback rating (106.9).
Elks starting centre, Mark Korte, who was the highest-graded offensive lineman on the Elks last week says teams have been playing the Elks differently with Ford at quarterback.
“Spacing has been different. When we do rush back, those guys aren’t as willing to rush because they know that Tre can take off,” Korte said. “Defences like to stack the box against us on the run but they know that Tre can the pull the ball. We have a lot of complimentary pieces right now with run game helping the pass game and the pass game helping the run games.”
Julien hitting his mark
No to be out done, Elks punter Jake Julien made an appearance on the Week 15 honour roll. Julien averaged 43.8 yards per punt and just over a 33-yard net average in the win over the Riders.
Julien had a key punt late in the fourth quarter pinning the Riders on their own four-yard line. The Elks would record a two-point safety a play later sealing the win.
The Elks would hold Riders kick-returned Mario Alford to 51 punt return yards with his longest being 39 yards.
The Elks will face a dangerous threat on Friday when they host the B.C. Lions at Commonwealth Stadium.
Williams recorded a 100-yard touchdown off of a missed field goal in the Lions 41-37 come from behind win over the Ottawa Redblacks last weekend. Williams is third in the CFL in combined yards (1,727), but Julien says he will focus on his faith in the cover units.
“I got a lot of faith in our guys and we’re doing really well in the coverage with either getting a good punt and putting guys in the position to make the play or the guys bailing me out,” Julien said. “We’re doing a great job in containing these guys so it will be business as usual.”
Elks punter, Jake Julien, looks back on his pin late in the fourth quarter against the Riders which led to the defence forcing a safety
Kick-off on Friday night at Commonwealth Stadium between the Elks and Lions will be at 7:30pm, 630 CHED will have live coverage starting with Coundtown to Kick-off at 6pm.