Costly penalties

Edmonton Eskimos head coach Danny Maciocia isn't wasting time cracking down on the club's penalty...

Edmonton Eskimos head coach Danny Maciocia isn't wasting time cracking down on the club's penalty woes. Players must pay fines for infractions. (Edmonton Sun File/Darryl Dyck)

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 7:58 AM ET

If the Edmonton Eskimos continue to take several stupid penalties per game, wallets are going to become noticeably lighter in the dressing room.

Head coach Danny Maciocia has mandated that fines must be paid for careless and needless penalties in every game this year.

"I have learned that the hard way because we didn't have (fines) last year until halfway through the season," said the coach.

"But you live and learn."

So, from Day 1 this year the playbook has had a fine section.

And the coach is hoping that after averaging a whopping 135 penalty yards per game through the preseason and the first regular-season game this year, the system is about to sink back in with his players and pay dividends - pardon the pun.

POLICING THEMSELVES

"If an offensive lineman is offside, then the offensive line will address it and there is normally a fine that goes with it," explained Maciocia, who is letting the players collect the fines for offside and procedure penalties.

"I'm trying to get them to police it.

"We're trying to get them to take ownership of this football team."

When the fines quietly came into existence halfway through last year, the system started to sink in and work after a few games.

The Esks averaged 98 yards per game in penalties through the first 12 tilts in the regular season in 2005.

But in the final nine games, the team cut that total by 25%, dropping to about 75 yards per game.

Like the offensive line, the receiving core is policing itself this season.

The fines aren't huge if a player isn't a repeat offender every game - but veteran wideout Ed Hervey is very hopeful the system will have the desired result this Saturday night when the Calgary Stampeders visit.

"We have a system in place where if you go offside, you have to buy your position group a meal," said Hervey, who is one of seven receivers on the roster.

"Nobody wants to do that.

"Everybody wants to save their money.

"Hopefully it will keep us from getting those penalties where guys are concerned about not being the one (singled out by the group).

"You will always remember that penalty because it goes into the stats, but on Wednesday or Thursday or Friday when it's time to bring that food in, there is still that reminder of - man, I still have to go buy $65 worth of food for the group."

But if a player takes a personal foul penalty during a game, the fine is a straight cash payment that is collected by the club.

Again, it's not an astronomical amount, but it's the point of being singled out for the mistake and being forced to fork over the money.

"Those (personal foul infractions) are selfish," said Maciocia.

"Nobody benefits from that."

GAME 1 A PRIME EXAMPLE

A clear example came last Saturday in Calgary, when the Eskimos had prime field position after a Tony Tompkins' 35-yard punt return in the first quarter. In a scoreless game, a touchdown would have set the tone for the Green and Gold.

But an unnecessary roughness penalty by Charles Alston - along with a holding call by Sherrod Coates - negated the return.

Said Maciocia: "Instead of scrimmaging from the 40-yard line (last Saturday) with an opportunity to at least maybe get yourself a field goal, now you are scrimmaging from your 13 yard line - and you start thinking 'that if you go two and out, should I concede a safety?'

"It's unbelievable."

The Eskimos didn't get a first down on that series and Rodney Williams fumbled the snap on the punt, giving Calgary the ball at the three-yard line.

Three plays later, the Stampeders had a 3-0 lead.


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