Roughriders prepare for Elks and their rushing quarterback Tre Ford

REGINA — Tre Ford believes there might be an element of surprise when he leads the Edmonton Elks onto the field Friday against the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

Ford, who will make his sixth straight start at quarterback for the Elks, faces the Roughriders for the first time in his career.

Although Saskatchewan has enough film of Ford to game plan for him, he feels they could be in for a bit of a shock once the game begins.

“It’s the first time that they're going to see me actually play live, which I feel like is a slight advantage for me," Ford explained Thursday.

"Watching it on film and actually being on the field, they're kind of two different things, especially the speed of the game. It’s not that I look slow on film, but I feel like it's a lot faster in person."

Ford is 68 for 97 in passing for 990 yards, six touchdowns and three interceptions so far this season.

The 25-year-old has a 4-4 record in eight career CFL starts. He's thrown a touchdown pass in each of the five games he has started in 2023.

Since taking over from Taylor Cornelius in August as starter, Ford has given Edmonton some spark. The Elks started the season 0-9-0, but are 3-1-0 in their last four games.

They've also won twice at home with Ford as starter after a 22-game losing streak at Commonwealth Stadium.

Roughriders head coach Craig Dickenson was clear about his biggest concern in containing Ford, who has rushed for 401 yards on 39 carries this season.

“Keeping him in the pocket," Dickenson said. "He can really move, and I know he's going to escape a few times and when he does escape, he can beat you with his legs or he can extend the play and beat you downfield.

"I want to keep him in the pocket as best we can. That’s easier said than done."

The Elks (3-10-0) rank fifth in the West Division one game behind the fourth-place Calgary Stampeders (4-9-0), and with the Roughriders (6-6-0) still in Edmonton's sights in third.

Elks head coach Chris Jones attributes the recent stretch of success to the growth of his roster, which includes a number of CFL newcomers.

“You’d like to think they’ve developed and the more they play, you would hope that they'll make fewer and fewer mistakes," Jones said.

"I think we've got 12 or 13 rookies with us this time and another seven or eight second-year players. Tre himself is a second-year player.

"We've got a lot of young kids on our team and sometimes it's frustrating and then other times it's fun to see them make a play and develop,."

The Elks came from behind to beat the Stampeders 25-23 and the Roughriders were drubbed 51-6 by the Winnipeg Blue Bombers on Sept. 9.

Dickenson told his players earlier this week to forget about the loss to Winnipeg and concentrate on the Elks. He feels his team bought into that directive.

“It seems like (the loss) was a long time ago and it was only five days ago today," Saskatchewan's coach said.

"We emphasized all week that our focus was on Edmonton. I think they've done a good job of taking that message and running with it. It’s a big game for us this week and what happened last week is long in the past."

Saskatchewan can eliminate Edmonton's chances of finishing third in the West with a victory Friday. A Roughrider win also gets Saskatchewan a three-win lead over the Stampeders currently on a bye week.

“The game means a lot for both teams," Dickenson said. "And then ultimately, it's just going to come down to who plays better, who's more physical, and who makes the plays at the end of the game to win it."


Friday at Mosaic Stadium

ON A ROLL: Edmonton receiver Emmanuel Arceneaux brings a streak of 141 straight games with at least one reception into Friday. Arceneaux’s streak starting July 4, 2010 is the fifth-longest in CFL history. Arceneaux has caught passes in 158 of 159 career games. Saskatchewan's Don Narcisse holds the CFL record for most consecutive games with a reception at 216.

OFF AND RUNNING: Edmonton tailback Kevin Brown rushed for a career-high 143 yards last week against the Calgary Stampeders. Brown totalled 117 of those yards on Edmonton’s first 14 offensive plays. It was Brown's third career game of 100 or more yards.

PROTECTING THE BALL: Saskatchewan quarterback Jake Dolegala has thrown 107 consecutive pass attempts without an interception. He's completed 70 of 114 attempts for 885 yards, four touchdowns and a single interception. The lone pick Dolegala gave up was Aug. 11 against the Montreal Alouettes.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 14, 2023.

Jeff DeDekker, The Canadian Press