Dare to run

CON GRIWKOWSKY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:06 AM ET

CALGARY -- Run if you dare against the Eskimos.

At the midway point of this CFL season, you won't get far.

The Eskimos moved to 6-3 with their runaway Labour Day win over the Calgary Stampeders.

For the second straight start, their win was paved with an ability to shut down the opposition's feature running back.

Against Saskatchewan, the run defence held Wes Cates to 60 yards until the last play of the game.

Yesterday, Joffrey Reynolds felt the bite for a fired-up front seven.

Until he left the game with an injury on a kickoff return late in the third quarter, Reynold was held to 75 yards on nine carries. One of those carries was for 30 yards.

Holding the CFL West's two leading rushers in two consecutive games has become a bit of a mission.

A team that had an identity crisis, giving up the second-most yards along the ground in 2007, is building itself a different identity in 2008.

"Yeah, we're coming together real nice," said linebacker Agustin Barrenechea. "We're a tenacious defence. We like to fly around and run to the ball."

On a physical level the defence, and special teams turnovers, helped muscle the Esks to their win.

"That's something we pride ourselves on is getting fast to the ball, getting to the ball fast and getting the hits on whoever the ball carrier is," said Barrenechea.

"We're trying to establish our identity."

The run defence has come a long way from last year in establishing its identity. There's always room for improvement, even though the Esks came into this game as the second-stingiest run defence in the league.

"Calgary did some good things on us," said Barrenechea. "They marched the field on us at the beginning of the third quarter. They still pose some issues for us and need to improve on that for Friday night. It's going to be a big game for us."

Barrenechea also got his first sack of the season, a punishing hit that knocked Calgary starter Henry Burris out of the game. The Stamps had given up the least sacks of any CFL team, 10, coming into this game.

"It feels good to get a sack at any time," said Barrenechea. "Obviously, I wish Henry the best and a speedy recovery. I'm sure he'll be fine.

"It was one of those plays where Joffrey cut me off the edge. I saw Henry run out a bit, chased him down and made the play. It was a big play and it felt good to make that play."

It's possible Burris could be ready on Friday.

"The thing about those back-to-backs is that there's always one extra little wrinkle," said Barrenechea.

"I'm sure they're going to take what they did well and we'll take what we did well, throw a little wrinkle and build off of that."

It was a frustrating afternoon for Reynolds.

"They stayed on the field and kept the ball away from us and we never got into our rhythm," said Reynolds, who has some tenderness in his back/shoulder area.

"We really didn't establish nothin', really. It was kinda hit and miss.

"We weren't on the field really that much.

"When you don't convert on second down, that's what happens."


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