July 17, 2012
Big problem arises for Stampeders
By SCOTT MITCHELL, QMI Agency
CALGARY - Don’t sweat the small stuff.
It’s a useful expression, but it’s the big things that have Calgary Stampeders defenders putting in extra work in the film room.
Namely, big plays.
With the Stamps offence leading the CFL in scoring at 35.3 points per contest, finding the endzone hasn’t been a problem.
But with a 1-2 record, something has to be wrong, doesn’t it?
For veteran defensive back Brandon Smith, it’s a disturbing penchant for breaking down at bad times that has the Stamps where they are instead of potentially being 3-0.
“We haven’t played as good as our potential, but we’ve done a lot of good things out there,” Smith said.
“We just gave up a couple big plays, which is just unfortunate.”
And the plays have been getting bigger as the season wears on.
In the Week 1 win over the Montreal Alouettes, the Red & White ‘D’ was torched for a 37-yard TD through the air, as Anthony Calvillo and Brian Bratton hooked up.
In Week 2, it was a 57-yard scoring strike from Toronto Argonauts quarterback Ricky Ray to Dontrelle Inman that hurt.
In Week 3, Calvillo and Bratton again found a gaping hole in the Stamps’ secondary — this time for a 69-yard touchdown.
“We’ve done some great things on defence,” said Stamps middle linebacker Juwan Simpson, who is third on the team in tackles with 12 stops.
“It’s not like we’ve had a terrible season. We’ve just given up some big plays.
“In this league, teams will get you if you’re not in your gap or you get caught off the ball.”
It’s not going to get any easier, either, with coverage linebacker Demetrice Morley contemplating shoulder surgery, which could keep him out for a good portion of the season and defensive back Keon Raymond on the limp with a groin injury.
“We have a good group,” Smith said. “We have guys who can fill in and not miss a beat, talent-wise. We just need to make sure we’re all on the same page and we limit our mental errors.
“The offence is doing a great job on their side of the ball, and defensively, we’ve played good for most of the game, but we just give up a play or two,” Smith continued.
“It skews the statistics.
“It’s just big plays we have to limit.”
With rookies Jamar Wall and Fred Bennett now being counted on to play a lot of snaps in the secondary Thursday against the visiting Saskatchewan Roughriders and Chris Randle getting most of the reps at Morley’s coverage linebacker spot, playing as a cohesive unit becomes paramount.
“It’s unfortunate, but it’s part of the game,” Simpson said of the injuries to key guys on the defensive side of the ball.
“We’ve got some young guys who have stepped up and played tremendous ball.
“When we’re all on the same page, we’re real good. When there’s one or two that’s not on the same page, that’s when we have problems.”