Smarten up!

SCOTT ZERR -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 8:31 AM ET

Missed tackles and a communication breakdown.

They can't happen when a football team is trying to avoid giving up the big play, yet resulted in deflating scores by Toronto against the Edmonton Eskimos last week. And tomorrow night's opponent, the Montreal Alouettes, have the weapons to go big and go home with a victory.

"Normally those things never happen to us. You take those two plays away, we win that game and we're not even talking about those two plays," said Esks head coach Danny Maciocia.

But they did happen - two of the pathetic nine first downs the Argos accounted for in the entire game, and they cost the Esks 179 yards and two touchdowns.

"Big plays win football games. We didn't make any and they did. They made one play the entire first half and put points on the board," said safety William Loftus.

"After one big play, you have to shake it off and line up again. Unfortuately we let them have a few big plays and it ended up costing us the game."

Rookie mistakes, figured linebacker Singor Mobley. Yet they happened to a group that shouldn't be making such blunders.

"We can learn from that and this week in practice we changed some things in our philosophy," added Mobley.

A stiffer message sent from the defence this week isn't necessarily about atoning for the errors of a game ago.

"It's more about us making sure we win at home," said Mobley. "Last week was frustrating and disappointing, but I think we're going to bounce back from it.

"I wouldn't say it's a must-win but we sure do need a win."

Those two plays by the Argos hurt deeper than just on the scoreboard. They injured a defence with an abundance of pride. If the Alouettes can accomplish the same sort of feats, a rattled group of Esks becomes shaken, the doubts and concerns worsen.

Even without injured receiver Ben Cahoon, the Als can burn their opposition with the home run ball. Kerry Watkins has become a primary target for veteran Anthony Calvillo, who racked up over 100 yards against Calgary last week and has three touchdowns to his credit. O'Neil Wilson has credentials to be wary of, to say nothing of the loaded resume that ex-Esk Terry Vaughn brings to the field.

"We've got to mix it up on him," explained Maciocia of Calvillo. "You can't give him the same look too many times in a row, because he's just too smart. Eventually he'll catch you doing the same thing and he'll have an answer. We'll have man-to-man and zone and just try to keep him on his heels."

If the image of a former teammate finding holes and running wild isn't enough of a worry, Montreal also boasts Ezra Landry, the pint-sized return whiz who lit up the Esks for a pair of majors in the teams' first meeting of the year.

"Well, we're going to try to keep him out of the end zone. That's the only thing we have for him," smiled Maciocia about the dangerous Landry.

"We have to gang-tackle and make sure we're all on the same page. The coverage was there. It was just a breakdown between two individuals, and that can't happen."

At any moment, there's a threat against the defence. After getting singed by the Argos, the last thing the Eskimos need is to get lit up less than a week later.

"Bottom line, it sucks to lose," said Loftus. "Everybody's pretty pumped up, people are pretty ticked off."

LATE HITS: The Esks yesterday released receiver Chris Kelley, who had six receptions for 61 yards this season. His import spot on the roster will be filled by kicker Hayden Epstein and Maciocia noted that Kelley had lost ground in the pecking order to other receivers.


Videos

Photos