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JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 8:17 AM ET

Danny Maciocia sarcastically joked when he heard the bad news.

As the Edmonton Eskimos enter Week 6 of the CFL regular season, they are well ahead of last year's pace for penalties.

"We're up in something," cracked the head coach, knowing his team has struggled on offence, defence and special teams at times this year.

MORE THAN 13 INFRACTIONS A GAME

After four games, the Esks have taken 53 penalties - more than 13 per game on average - compared to 45 at this point last year.

Although it's rather early in the season, if the Esks keep up that average, this year's squad will obliterate the franchise record for most penalties in a year.

But while he knows his players have been undisciplined this season, Maciocia believes coaches and officials also deserve some responsibility for the barrage of penalties.

"I spoke with George Black (the league's director of officiating) today and said we collectively have to do a better job of cutting down on the number of penalties," said Maciocia.

And the Eskimos bench boss believes he has a way to help everyone improve rather quickly.

"What I encouraged George to do is to sit down and have a conference call with the rest of the coaches and just talk about how things are being called," he explained.

"We need to let there be a common understanding of how we are doing business."

Black is open to the idea, but will take at least a week before deciding if the conference call will become a reality.

"You need to see if this is an issue for other teams," said Black.

When the league's chief official canvasses other teams, he'll likely find support for a meeting of the minds because penalties are up across the CFL.

Through five weeks, 424 penalties had been called during 36 games compared to 417 penalties over 40 games last year. When four fewer games have been played in five weeks this year and penalties are still up, there is an issue.

'PREVENTABLE' PENALTIES

"I don't see a big increase in roughness penalties," said Black. "Almost 50% of the penalties being called are in the preventable category."

That means offside, procedure, time-count violations and too many men on the field infractions - which indicates sloppy play.

But the increase is also due to a change in the illegal block rule on kick/punt returns, where officials are now calling hits from the side as illegal. In the past, a block from behind was just illegal.

The league only has statistics on illegal blocks through Week 4 but 29 have been called this year compared to just 11 last year.

"Everybody is complaining about it," said Maciocia, who often talks with other coaches.


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