Defensive liability

IAN BUSBY, CALGARY SUN

, Last Updated: 8:23 AM ET

A ferocious sack. A trip and a touchdown allowed.

Such is life with the Calgary Stampeders defence these days.

The new players in the lineup have shown plenty of promise, such as Tearrius George dropping Jarious Jackson in overtime of Friday's 45-45 sawoff with the B.C. Lions.

However, a crucial mistake can happen as soon as the next play, and the best example of that was Dwaine Carpenter falling down to leave Paris Jackson wide open for a tying score when the Lions were stuck in a second-and-22.

So, the biggest question heading into the bye week is whether the Stampeders have the pieces in place on defence to be a championship contender.

"I think we have it," said defensive captain Brian Clark, the middle linebacker. "It's just a matter of being in the right spots and shutting down those big plays.

"It seems like teams are taking advantage of little mistakes, where maybe in years past they weren't taking advantage. It seems like if we didn't have bad luck, we wouldn't have no luck at all.

"It's a matter of doing our jobs and coming back refreshed. We have guys trying to do too much, myself included, and we're getting beat on those plays."

The numbers against the Lions weren't pretty, but there is a trend in the past few weeks. Calgary's defence allowed 443 net yards against the Lions, gave up 457 to the Alouettes after holding the Eskimos to 340 yards.

The reason seems to be simple: Injuries and roster shuffling have meant players are in different spots from week to week.

Only four of the 12 players have started every game in the same spot, with those being end Terrence Patrick, safety Trey Young, linebacker Shannon James and cornerback Brandon Browner.

So despite some mistakes and growing pains, the Stamps need to gain as much consistency as possible. Injuries are one thing to deal with, but constantly adjusting the lineup doesn't help either.

Stamps head coach Tom Higgins said the club is getting close to settling on a starting group and sticking with it.

"We have the athletes to get it done, but now it's a matter of letting them play together," Higgins said. "We don't want to make a bunch more changes. We like what we have and we're expecting good things down the stretch."

Clark started the season rotating with Scott Coe at middle linebacker before the Canadian moved over to the other inside spot and Cornelius Anthony moved outside, replacing Tony Bua.

The secondary has shuffled because of injuries and some releases. Corner Crance Clemons returned this week from a neck injury, so Sadrick Williams moved to field halfback, while Carpenter started just his third game at the boundary half.

The defensive line was hit hard with injuries, as nose tackle Keron Williams (groin) was replaced this week by George when Anthony Gargiulo returned from his second leg injury.

All these players have skills, but the uneasiness of a new spot contributes to little errors, all of which the Lions seemed to exploit Friday.

"It wasn't the greatest defensive performance," said Patrick. "Thank God for the offence. We do have some youth and it seems like there's personnel changes a lot. It's something we have to play through.

"It did show because B.C.'s offence played really well. It's something we'll focus on in the bye week, getting a strong nucleus on defence and moving forward."


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