From pastor Danny's pulpit

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 11:01 AM ET

BURLINGTON -- This Danny Maciocia football sermon is brought to you by the letter 'D.'

The Edmonton Eskimos head coach has been peppered with questions about his club's defensive shortcomings since Sunday's ugly loss in Toronto - and his responses are getting better by the day.

In his address to the travelling media yesterday at McMaster University - where the team is practising - Maciocia called on his defence to immediately improve before Friday's game in Hamilton against the Tiger-Cats (5 p.m. MT, TSN, CHED).

Here is a breakdown of the candid conversation as the Eskimos prepare for their biggest game of the season to date:

RUNNING NIGHTMARE

"We need to - clearly - get better (on our run defence). Or else Jesse Lumsden (Hamilton's running back) will be player of the week," said Maciocia, knowing his club gave up 201 net yards rushing against Toronto last Sunday.

"We can't allow him to run up and down the football field on us.

"We are a little bit thin up front. We knew that and we need a great effort from the guys up front (on the defensive line)."

Right now, Maciocia is stuck in a spot where he can only dress two true defensive tackles - Jim Davis and Dario Romero - for Friday.

Considering the team has four days off between games this week, that is not a good situation.

"We'd like to get another defensive lineman in there (on the playing roster) and get into a rotation (at defensive tackle) but we can't afford to have another import (on the roster) because we just don't know where to take one off right now," continued Maciocia. "(Adam) Braidwood's absence is being felt.

"But no excuses."

In a nutshell, if Braidwood's knee was 100%, he could easily come on the roster as a non-import because the club is essentially playing one non-import short.

In that perfect world scenario, Braidwood could rotate with Davis and Romero at the two defensive tackle positions.

But Braidwood is still five weeks from being healthy and the club doesn't want to bench an import from elsewhere on the roster to allow import defensive tackle Joe Anoai to play.

MISTAKES UNDER HIS SKIN

There are some mistakes from that 35-31 loss to Toronto last weekend that are still bugging Maciocia.

"We can't put the excitement back in the quarterback sneak. It is still a play we have to execute," he said, referring to Ricky Ray's fumble at Toronto's 14-yard line in the second half.

"You've got to secure the football. If we had secured the football and convert (in that situation), chances are we are going to come out with points.

"If we don't miss a chip shot (from 22 yards) for a field goal and end up settling for a single, that changes.

"If we don't take a silly penalty - really - on one of the punt returns by Tristan Jackson. Instead of us scrimmaging from their 20 (yard line), we are scrimmaging for our 20.

"Do the math.

"Are those things correctable? Absolutely."

J.R. LaRose was quilty of the fourth quarter holding penalty that negated Jackson's 59-yard return to the Toronto 21-yard line.

At that point, Edmonton had a six point lead.

FINDING POSITIVES

All that being said, Maciocia is still trying to find positives in the loss to the Argos that has dropped Edmonton to 2-2 in the West Division.

"Let's give (Toronto) full credit for winning the football game, but it is not like they ate our lunch," said the coach.

"We competed. We gave them a run. Had we cleaned up a few things, we'd be sitting here at 3-1 today.

"Like I told the guys: that is as good as we have played Toronto in Toronto in the longest of time.

"That is our consolation. Now, let's focus on Hamilton."

Amen.


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