Esks want to corral the run

GERRY MODDEJONGE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:38 AM ET

They haven't heard hooves galloping in their sleep, but the Edmonton Eskimos have spent some late nights trying to think of ways to stop the Calgary Stampeders rushing game.

"We've been putting our heads together for the last two weeks and I think we've got it figured out," said Eskimos defensive line coach Mike Walker.

"Last week, they hit a couple big ones on us and it got ugly in the second half, but I think this week we've got a good plan and our inside guys Dario (Romero) and (Adam) Braidwood are teed up for this game because we know we've got to stop the run in order to be successful."

The pair of defensive tackles are the first line of defence in charge of plugging the gaps on the inside rush, which has been a formidable challenge in a season that currently sees them last in stopping the run.

While the Eskimos give up a league-worst 158.1 rushing yards per game, Calgary's offence tops the charts by earning an average of 156.4 yards per game.

"Really what it comes down to is just competing," said Romero. "Play harder, play more physical, play more aggressive -- stuff that a defence is supposed to do."

Like they did in the first quarter of Monday's game, where they held Calgary to 24 yards on seven plays, including a sack by middle linebacker Maurice Lloyd for a three-yard loss.

"The first quarter was good," said Romero, whose squad trailed 5-2 before giving up 28 second-quarter points.

"We're starting having to play conservative just because of the score. It kind of makes the plays harder to call. It just takes us out of what we do."

At the same time, establishing the run opens up the offence's playbook and keeps the defence guessing.

"Our plan is to stop the first down," said Walker. "Then you get them in that pass game and hopefully you can make something happen on that second-down play and then you're off the field.

"We've got plans for all the runs that they do and hopefully it will play into our hands for once and we'll get that done."

But that means not only shutting down West Division rushing leader Joffrey Reynolds, but non-import Jon Cornish, who has emerged as another threat backing him up.

"When I first got here, I knew about Joffrey Reynolds but then I started watching more film and I was like, 'Who is this No. 9 guy?' " Walker said.

"He's just as good and it adds another weapon. That just gives them depth to have two great running backs like that."

Cornish is ninth among league rushing leaders with 350 yards and an average of 8.8 per carry, but is still searching for his first touchdown of the season.

"He reminds me of Calvin (McCarty), you know?" said Braidwood. "He runs hard. It's tough. We've got to start putting up some points and we've got to start scoring as a defence.

"That's going to be crucial and the biggest thing is to not let guys like that gain momentum. Shut them down right away, start hitting them, play a physical game and not let them get to the point where they're taking advantage of us being out on the field so long."


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