A big 'D' little 'O' for Esks

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 12:22 PM ET

It's a tale of two teams wearing the same uniform.

The Edmonton Eskimos offence has hit rock bottom, producing just two touchdowns in the last eight quarters and two legitimate seven-point chances against Calgary on Friday night.

However, the defence is soaring at the top of the charts after the first 11 games of the season.

"It's championship calibre right now," said head coach Danny Maciocia of his defence.

But the offence is in anything but championship form, which was a main topic in a team meeting yesterday, one day after Calgary beat Edmonton 16-11 at Commonwealth Stadium.

MORE PRIDE

"We need to take a little more pride in what we're doing," said quarterback Ricky Ray after the meeting.

"We're having too many mistakes."

There are several problems needing to be solved.

- Turnovers: With three more picks Friday, Ray has thrown 16 interceptions this year and is on pace for 26 in 2005, which would place him second for most interceptions in a single season in team history.

- Running game: Mike Jenkins and Ron McClendon have combined for 71 yards in the last two games.

- Discipline: The offence was flagged nine times on Friday, compared to three flags for Calgary's offensive unit.

But no red flags are being raised about the green and gold defence.

"Our defence has been shutting down everybody," said Edmonton receiver Derrell Mitchell, who has witnessed several outstanding defensive squads in nine years in the CFL.

TOPS IN SACKS

Besides leading the league in sacks, the crew is also ranked No. 1 in stopping the run.

"A running back hasn't rushed for 100 yards on our defence yet," continued Mitchell, "and that is unheard of, being halfway through the season."

No team defence has given up fewer points this season.

And entering this week, the Esks had given up the fewest yards (294 average) per game of any unit in the loop - and they held Calgary to 199 yards of total offence on Friday.

Joffrey Reynolds - the second-leading rusher in the league - had only 21 yards on 10 carries.

That came on the heels of gaining one measly yard on eight carries on Labour Day in Cowtown.

Henry Burris completed just nine passes on 23 attempts on Friday.

Calgary registered just 13 first downs.

"These defensive guys play with a lot of confidence in practice and it goes right into the game," explained Mitchell.

"These guys have kept us in a lot of games."

At 7-4 and in a dogfight for second place in the CFL's Western Division, the Eskimos next game is in Regina on Sunday against the Roughriders.


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