Jon Cornish wasn’t biting Thursday.
On Wednesday, Saskatchewan head coach Corey Chamblin guaranteed Cornish wouldn’t surpass 100 yards rushing when the Riders host the Calgary Stampeders on Sunday. That didn’t bother Cornish, who says he’s all about wins, not rushing yards.
“You win or you lose and that’s the only thing that really matters,” he said following Thursday’s practice. “If I have five yards and we win, I’ll be happy with that.
“I could care less what he has to say. I guess it could be almost unprecedented. Coaches have their various ways of trying to get in my head. To each his own.”
Calgary coach/GM John Hufnagel agrees.
“We’re going out there to try to win the football game,” he said. “I don’t care if Jon Cornish gets one yard and we win.
“That’s the only thing that our mindset is.”
A day earlier, though, Chamblin was very much to the point regarding Cornish.
“I will put the guarantee in the paper and say that Jon Cornish better not get over 100 yards rushing,” Chamblin told reporters in Regina. “If he does, somebody won’t be on that field come the next week. I’m going to tell you that right now.
“We’re going to make a conscious effort to stop the run. If he’s going to run the ball, he’d better be running through six tacklers on his back. There shouldn’t be open gaps.”
Bold words, indeed, considering Cornish ran for 159 yards on 24 carries in Calgary’s last game against Saskatchewan, a 17-10 win Aug. 25 at Mosaic Stadium. But the Riders held Cornish to 39 yards rushing on 11 carries in a 41-38 loss at McMahon Stadium on July 19.
“I don’t really worry about what the other team does, I’ve always emphasized that,” Cornish said. “It’s about what we do.
“If we do everything right, I can’t speculate about what they’ll do. When you make guarantees and stuff, being an honourable man you have to follow through with it. Unfortunately, he made one that will negatively affect somebody.”
Stopping the 27-year-old Cornish won’t be easy. The native of New Westminster, B.C., is the CFL’s rushing leader with 880 yards and is a focal point of Calgary’s offence.
“When you play the Calgary Stampeders, one of the areas that you want to make a point with your football team is trying to stop the running game,” Hufnagel said. “We’ve been a good rushing team since I came on board.
“We’ve been up there in the league stats. That doesn’t surprise me that they’re trying to stop our running game. Maybe I wouldn’t have put it so eloquently, but that’s all I’m going to say.”
But Saskatchewan counters with a stingy defence that’s ranked second against the run (92.2 yards per game) and fewest points allowed (21.3 per game).
“He set the bar a little bit lower,” Cornish said of Chamblin. “I think they’re going to come out really focused and trying to lay some licks and stuff, sew me up.
“When you know about it, it gives you something to focus on. It’s not really something I worry about too much, stats on the field. You go out and play. At the end of the day, win or lose, that’s the thing you care about.”
Guarantees aside, the game is an important one for Saskatchewan (5-6), which enters weekend action tied for third in the West Division with Edmonton. Calgary (7-4) is alone in second.
And if the Riders concentrate too much in stopping the run, Cornish said that will open up other areas for quarterback Kevin Glenn to exploit.
“If you want to dedicate that much of your resources to stopping the run, I definitely believe that we are a multi-headed monster,” Cornish said. “You’ll have to stop other aspects of our game as well.”