D-termined

DAN TOTH -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 12:09 AM ET

Want to take the temperature of the Calgary Stampeders defence? Just check in with feisty co-ordinator Denny Creehan, who appears to be a little hot under the collar these days.

After surrendering 553 yards total offence to the not-so-powerful Ottawa Renegades last week, Creehan was loudly admonishing his troops during yesterday's workout to "wake up already or you'll get another 600 yards stuck up your (butts)."

The Ottawa performance is reason for everyone to be a little prickly but apparently heightening the angst is the arrival of the Saskatchewan Roughriders for tomorrow night's clash at McMahon Stadium.

While pint-sized Renegades back Josh Ranek racked up 164 yards rushing in a humiliating 33-18 win over the Stamps, the Roughies' arsenal includes the fearsome duo of Kenton Keith and Corey Holmes.

Double the threat, double the headache for the 1-2 Stampeders, who have surrendered an average of 126 rushing yards per game this season, second-worst in the CFL.

Keith is expected to return to his role as starting tailback after suffering a bruised sternum June 25. Holmes, who has charged to the top of the CFL's rushing race with 389 yards on 62 carries (6.3-yard avg.), will see some time in the backfield, possibly in a two-back set with Keith, while also returning kicks.

"Their offensive line is good, their back is good but if we play like we can, we can stop anybody," declared Creehan, mastermind behind the Red and White's 3-4 scheme, now challenging his front seven to shut down the Roughriders' ground game.

In two contests last season after returning from the NFL, Keith put together a 107-yard performance on 12 carries against Calgary, including a 47-yard TD run, while being limited to 79 yards on 18 tries in his next game. Not dominant performances overall, Creehan argues.

"He had one run at the home game here that was 47 yards, that's all he had," Creehan said. "He's very good. If you give him a seam, he'll stick it in the endzone on you. You've got to get him stopped before he gets going. He's damn good. He's explosive as hell. Probably the most explosive back in this whole league.

"We've got to take the fight to him, get him stopped in the backfield before he ever gets a chance to get started because, if he gets through the line of scrimmage, it's over. You aren't stopping him."

Veteran defensive end Demetrious Maxie, a former Roughrider, has called his unit's play the last two weeks embarrassing. He insists the Winnipeg outing was a disappointment despite bringing home two points as Charles Roberts racked up 108 yards on 21 carries.

"We've been embarrassed the last couple of weeks, even in the win over Winnipeg, it was embarrassing," Maxie said.

"That game shouldn't have even been close. We're a much better team than we've played like, especially on defence. I know a lot of people think teams have our defence figured out but we just have to adjust.

"We have to stop Keith on his initial hit, when he gets the ball on his first go. We can't let him be shifty and move around in the pocket."

After last season earning a reputation as one of the league's most feared defences, Maxie suggests it's time for the Stamps to return to that form this week.

"We have to, we have no choice," Maxie said. "A lot of people think they can just step over us but it's not that, we just haven't been hitting our gaps and we've been beating ourselves up."


Videos

Photos