All confused?

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 8:18 AM ET

This game preview is brought to you by the letter D and the number 21.

The letter D stands for Defence.

The number 21 stands for the number of defensive looks/formations the Montreal Alouettes have shown this year through five undefeated games.

And as the Eskimos and Alouettes meet tonight at Commonwealth Stadium, it's Montreal's very confusing defence that is the key to this pivotal game for the hometown boys.

If Eskimo centre Tim Bakker makes the right blocking-scheme calls and quarterback Ricky Ray makes the right reads in the few seconds before the ball is snapped, the Green and Gold will be in great shape.

But if not ...

"They're a very complex defence," said Eskimo guard Dan Comiskey.

"You have to know what you are doing and sort through all the garbage."

Montreal can rush five, six or seven players - or can just be trying to confuse the offence with smokescreens.

The key for the Edmonton O-line is being patient and not overreacting.

"It - (the defensive formation) - is going to clear itself up, it's just a matter of at what point in the play," continued Comiskey.

There's confidence among this offensive line.

"If we play our game, I don't think anybody in the CFL can beat us," Joe McGrath stated.

But if they don't execute properly tonight, the Eskimos will drop right into the situation head coach Danny Maciocia wants to avoid.

"If we are in second and long a dozen times, it could be a long day," said Maciocia.

"That is when (Montreal's defence) is most effective because they know we're going to throw ... and they're going to come after us."

The other keys tonight:

Grab the early lead: Both teams are very slow starting. But more importantly, after falling apart to end their last game, Edmonton needs to avoid facing adversity early tonight, meaning a lead is rather important.

A special effort on special teams: Besides having to sniff out any Don Matthews's trick plays, the Esks also need to finally kick their return game into high gear.

Through five games, Edmonton has only started THREE offensive drives in opposition territory - and two of those drives started after defensive turnovers.

Cutdown on penalties: On pace for a record-setting season, the Esks are averaging 14 flags per game.

They want to reduce that to single digits.


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