Athletes having an overly-high opinion of themselves? We're all shocked, shocked, but that's what seems to be going on in Saskatchewan, with Roughriders' running back Kory Sheets trash-talking Calgary counterpart Jon Cornish during a charity event this week in Saskatoon. Via Rod Pedersen, here's what Sheets had to say:
"I sat out three games, (Cornish) hasn't and that's pretty much all that matters. Everybody knows that I'm a better back than he is and I'm pretty much not thinking about what he does anymore. Somebody told me about what he was talking about but he knows what's going on over here. He knows that I'm a better running back than he is. You wanna talk about it? We'll see what the numbers do at the end of the season."
Well, Mr. Better Running Back, it's true that you missed three games thanks to injury (and that the Riders struggled mightily in your absence before reviving with your return). However, on the year, you've still had more opportunities to carry the ball than Cornish has, and you've done less with them. Cornish leads the league with 1,415 rushing yards, but took just 200 carries to get there, giving him a stellar average of 7.3 yards per carry; you're second with 1,302 rushing yards, but needed 227 carries to pick those up, reducing your average to 5.7 yards per carry. Thus, on the whole, giving the ball to Cornish rather than you on any particular carry would net you an extra 1.6 yards, so it's awfully hard to proclaim that you're the clearly superior running back.
Cornish also carries an edge in receiving (he has 36 catches for 285 yards and two touchdowns, 7.9 yards per reception, while Sheets has 32 catches for 251 yards without a touchdown, an average of 7.8 yards per catch), and both are tied with 10 rushing touchdowns. That's not to bash Sheets: he's been an integral part of the Saskatchewan offence this year, and the team has obviously struggled without him. However, it seems that Cornish perhaps isn't getting his due. Much of the talk in Calgary's run to a league-best 11-3 record thus far has been about the Stampeders' success with three separate quarterbacks and about the often-impressive play of their defence, but Cornish has been quietly and consistently effective for them, and he's been crucial to their success, especially by acting as a constant producer in the midst of the often-changing parts around him.
There are four games to go, of course, and it's certainly possible Sheets could wind up ahead in total rushing yards, especially if the Riders continue pounding him as much as they have. If he does, that will be impressive, and that will give him at least a better argument to be seen ahead of Cornish. Cornish has been much more consistently effective when carrying the ball, though, and Sheets' games missed to injury shouldn't be seen as an argument in his favour considering how many more touches he's still had than Cornish on the season. Boosting himself as the best running back in the league may help his own confidence and may go over well in Rider Nation, but the stat sheet Sheets values so much certainly doesn't support his case at this time.