Gettin' their kicks

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:38 AM ET

The Edmonton Eskimos don't want to see a hat trick scored on special teams.

In just five regular season games, the Green and Gold have already given up two blocked punts.

B.C. Lions' Barron Miles schooled rookie Calvin McCarty in Vancouver last month to block a Sean Fleming punt.

Then Saskatchewan's Kyle Mitchell got through almost untouched last week to block another punt and recovered it for a touchdown.

In both cases, Edmonton lost the game.

If the Esks surrender a third block punt tomorrow against the Calgary Stampeders at Commonwealth Stadium, heads will surely roll on special teams.

"We got to do a better job of doing our job - whoever that individual may be," said Eskimo special teams coach Scott Squires, who has never had three blocked punts against him in one season in his 20 years of coaching.

"Never had one returned for a touchdown either. I don't like it. I'll be honest with you. I didn't come up here to do that."

Squires is in his first year as the Eskimo special teams boss after coming from California during the off-season.

He has injected a major breath of fresh air into part of the special teams unit with a variety of trick plays.

But on the flip side, the blocked punts are killing the team.

"I am a researcher of football," continued Squires.

"You look at the NFL over a 10-year span and when you get a punt blocked you lose 80% of the games.

"Look at the momentum (a team gets), look at the field position swing, look at the point swing (if the opposition scores)."

Punter Sean Fleming can't recall if he has three blocked punts on him during one season. But he knows the critical nature of the punt team.

"Football is about field position," added Fleming. "The punt team is the most important special team that we have.

"Punt team is a defensive play. We are trying to create field position for our defence, trying to put their offence as far away from our end zone as possible.

"When you get a punt blocked right off the bat you are talking a loss of anywhere between 38 to 44 yards of field position. It's a big momentum swinger."

There are varying stories of what happened on the blocked punt in Regina last Saturday, but Squires is taking the heat squarely on his shoulders.

"We got off late and didn't get into our gap," said Squires.

"I told the guys my daughter could have blocked that kick. He (Mitchell) got through basically untouched. I didn't prepare our guys well enough. I gotta do a better job."

There's no doubt that particular unit is under the microscope this week.

Besides the media attention, head coach Danny Maciocia stopped one drill earlier this week and had a heart-to-heart chat with one side of the protection line.


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