The spotlight on Saturday night will be on 26-year-old rookie quarterback Taylor Cornelius, who will get the start for the Edmonton Elks when they host the Winnipeg Blue Bombers on The Brick Field at Commonwealth Stadium.
On Thursday, Elks quarterback Trevor Harris was placed on the team’s six-game injured list because of a neck injury sustained during the Labour Day rematch last Saturday against the Calgary Stampeders.
Cornelius, who played college football at Oklahoma State University, won the backup quarterback job in training camp and has only seen work on short-yardage situations. He hasn’t had full reps this week as Harris was cleared to practise before pulling himself on Wednesday.
Cornelius took the news in stride.
“I found out Wednesday after our Day 2 practice that I’d be starting this week,” Cornelius said.
“(Elks head coach) Jamie (Elizondo) called me into his office and told me the news. After that, I continued to get prepared and get ready for the game.”
LISTEN BELOW: Edmonton Elks quarterback Taylor Cornelius on adapting to CFL game in his rookie season.
Elizondo has some history with Cornelius from their days with the Tampa Bay Vipers of the XFL, where Elizondo was the offensive co-ordinator. In five games, including four starts, Cornelius passed for 858 yards, four touchdowns and six interceptions. He added 114 rushing yards and scored three touchdowns.
Elizondo says Cornelius brings a lot of attributes that quarterbacks need.
“A lot of poise, obviously he has a cannon for an arm,” Elizondo said. “I think his composure and his toughness… he’s just very even-keeled.
“He’s played in some big environments but I think his strengths are his toughness, arm strength, his accuracy and his poise.”
The task for Cornelius and the rest of the Elks is a formidable one on Saturday as they face the 5-1 Bombers who are in first place in the Western Division. The Bombers have scored the most touchdowns in the CFL with 15. They have the best turnover ratio in the league at plus-12, and are tied for the best red-zone touchdown success rate at 67 per cent.
LISTEN BELOW: Edmonton Elks head coach Jamie Elizondo on his team finding their identity.
For the first time as a member of the green and gold, offensive lineman SirVincent Rogers will play in a game and start at left tackle.
Rogers was originally signed by the team in the 2019 off-season but tore his tricep in training camp and missed the entire season. He’s been out for the last two months because of a chest injury sustained back in the first week of training camp.
SAM linebacker Derrick Moncrief will make his Elks debut after signing with the team on Sept. 7.
Moncrief played three seasons for the Saskatchewan Roughriders, having his best season in 2019 when he was named a Western Division and CFL All-Star. Moncrief was most recently with the Los Angeles Rams of the NFL.
Other changes see defensive end Kwaku Boateng being placed on the one-game injured list with a leg injury.
Thomas Costigan will make his second start of the season on the defensive line. He has eight defensive tackles, two quarterback sacks, two pass knockdowns and one tackle for a loss.
The following are the projected offensive and defensive starters for the Elks:
Quarterback: Taylor Cornelius
Running back: James Wilder Jr. (fullback: James Tuck)
Offensive line: SirVincent Rogers, Tomas Jack-Kurdyla, David Beard, Matt O’Donnell, Kyle Saxelid
Receivers: Derel Walker, Greg Ellingson, Shai Ross, Mike Jones, Earnest Edwards
Defensive line: Mathieu Betts, Jake Ceresna, Mike Moore, Thomas Costigan
Linebackers: Nyles Morgan, Kieshawn Bierria, Derrick Moncrief
Defensive backs: Jonathon Mincy, Trumaine Washington, Jordan Hoover, Aaron Grymes, Jonathon Rose
You can hear live coverage of Saturday’s game between Elks and Blue Bombers on 630 CHED starting with Countdown to Kickoff at 6 p.m.
The opening kickoff on The Brick Field at Commonwealth Stadium will be at 7:45 p.m. with Morley Scott and Dave Campbell calling all of the live action. Plus, hear analysis from Blake Dermott and Eddie Steele.
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