Gimme a D, Danny

TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 8:54 AM ET

Tom Higgins never truly trusted his defence. Which might explain some of his dumb decisions.

But Danny Maciocia is a different head coach. And this is definitely a different defence.

Maciocia says he's already telegraphed the way he thinks it's going to be with his 'D'.

"I'm a head coach with an offensive background. As an offensive coach, you usually believe you can get a yard and a half.

"We had a third down and a yard and a half to go situation in our final pre-season game in Winnipeg and I elected to punt. We put them inside their 15 believing our defence would hold them down there and get us the ball back."

In there somewhere is going to be the story of this season for the Eskimos.

The study of the season, without question, is going to be Edmonton's high-profile, high- priced talent on the defensive side of the ball. That's where the Eskimos went out of their way to upgrade with the likes of Joe Montford, Davis Sanchez, Kelly Wiltshire, Tim Fleiszer, William Loftus and the like from around the league.

Putting all that talent together is one thing. Having them play together is another.

"There's no question we have the talent and the potential if we can come together," said Wiltshire.

SPECIAL GROUP

"If this group gels together, this is not going to be a good defence, it's going to be great. This could be a special group.

"I'm excited with what is going on here, not just with the talent but with the way we're already kind of pushing each other.

"I think there's the potential for this defence to wreak havoc. It's not just who we have starting," said Wiltshire, who will start in a secondary featuring Malcolm Frank and Shannon Garrett on his right and Donnie Brady and Sanchez on his left.

"It's the four or five guys we have backing up who are ready to play right now.

"To every one of us this has the looks of a championship defence."

For Wiltshire, who goes against his former Ottawa Renegade teammates in the opener Friday at Commonwealth Stadium, watching the defence come together was a thing of wonder.

"I was the first free agent to sign. Then to see all the other guys come really put a smile on my face. Obviously the other guys saw what I was seeing, especially with the guys who they already had here."

Signor Mobley, the veteran leader of the group, said the thing that's different than any other defence he's played with before is "the group really has a chance to dictate the outcome."

He says coming together with so many changes, it's obviously going to be a challenge. But that's a good thing.

"We have a defence here that has a chance to ... well, if it comes together it could be scary. We all know that.

"We have guys off the rush end and we have guys in the interior," he said of the defensive line.

"We're going to have a lot of pressure on the quarterback and that's how interceptions happen.

"At linebacker we can go side-to-side now.

"Our team range is remarkable. We have six or seven guys in the backfield with real speed. We're going to swarm to the ball and have a lot of helmets to the ball to make it happen."

Of course, when you're 0-0, everybody's going to be great.

But Maciocia is counting on his defence to be the difference.

"Our front four is going to be more active than in the past. We have a future Hall of Famer in Montford. We have a promising up-and-comer in Rashad Jeanty.

BIGGEST FAN

"Our interior is as good as you're going to find in this league. Our ratio has changed in the secondary with the ability to start two Canadians in Wiltshire and Sanchez.

"When all these guys get to know what the guy on the left and the right are going to do, it's going to be interesting to see how good they can be."

Their biggest fan is going to be quarterback Ricky Ray.

"I'm expecting good field position," he says.


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