Stumblin', bumblin'

TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 8:06 AM ET

REGINA -- Let the blame game begin.

The green and gold, white and green, yellow and green, white and white, or whatever the hell they are these days, are a black and white case of a team which is making a mess of its season for no good reason.

This is a team which can't kick, and is now there to be kicked around.

"The fans have every reason in the world to be upset," says coach Danny Maciocia.

Upset is what they were. Now they'll be livid. Until further notice, this is definitely 'What's Wrong with the Eskimos' season.

SOILING AND SPOILING THEIR YEAR

The Esks continue to soil and spoil their year. The Eskimos effectively could have put away a 34th consecutive playoff position here yesterday, but lost a fourth-straight game to the Riders in Taylor Field -- 37-36 -- for reasons almost to numerous to mention.

"If we were to have any hope of remaining in the race in the West, we had to win this one," said Saskatchewan coach Danny Barrett. "We did on the last play. Classic Taylor Field game. Now it's going to be verrrrrrrrrry interesting."

Classic, as in the last thing it was.

CEO Hugh Campbell was here cringing -- and not only at two of his receivers doing an end-zone dance when they were behind -- one even kicking the ball into the stands.

"It was a coach's nightmare," said Campbell. "Four or five plays were just horrendous -- very costly. Two plays turned into touchdowns because of penalties when we had them stopped."

The Hayden Epstein experiment blew up in Maciocia's face here yesterday when the import kicker missed three field goals, including double-clutching the approach while Omarr Morgan was allowed an unmolested route to block a 31-yard attempt which lost it on the final play.

"He didn't get a chance to kick it," said Maciocia, who couldn't identify who missed the protection assignment, but said everybody was at least in position at the snap.

"We need to take a look and see where he came from." You think?

Maciocia, after this one, has now put himself in deep do-do with his kickers. Epstein missed from 37 and 36 yards early. With a two-for-five day, Epstein is now eight-for-12 and 66.7% compared to Sean Fleming's 11-for-19 and 57.9%. The butcher bill is going to be high coming out of this one with several Eskimos injured. How do you justify a 66.7% import kicker with imports injured?

STILL MAY HAVE A PROBLEM

"It's something we'll have to look at. But we may still have to say the hell with it because we still may have a problem," said Maciocia.

Fleming, back as a punter, is so screwed up he dropped a perfect snap on his first punt, the Riders recovering and cashing in for a field. Fleming also had a punt blocked, which cost three more points. The Esks have now lost five games by a total of 17 points now. Mental mistakes, penalties and dumb-ass calls and plays have been the difference.

The bottom line is that the Eskimos are now 7-5 and Calgary and Saskatchewan 6-6.

"We feel like we have it and it slips away. We feel like we have it again and it slips away again," says Maciocia.

Campbell stands by his man.

"Danny is getting to see the tough side of it," he said of his baptism. "But he's doing the right things and saying the right things. I'm not disappointed in the coaching or the effort. This is a resilient club. I don't fear how we'll finish the season."

After this one? Be afraid, Hughie. Be very, very afraid.


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