Stubler not happy with Esks’ D

GERRY MODDEJONGE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:42 PM ET

The preseason has left a bad taste of vanilla in Rich Stubler's mouth.

The Edmonton Eskimos new defensive co-ordinator wasn't pleased with the two exhibition losses his club suffered, and liked the amount of yards his players gave up even less.

"We were very very vanilla. We ran three fronts, obviously that's not what our personality is as a defence," said Stubler. "I expect our guys to do much better."

With the focus shifting away from forming rosters and back onto winning games as the Eskimos kick off the regular season in Regina on Sunday, Stubler said he will be showing the hand he had been hiding over the past two weeks.

"We didn't show a lot in the first two games, that was by design," Stubler said. "We had to play people early.

"We came out of training camp with the guys we wanted, so I'm happy that way. We've got a lot to grow."

But not a lot of time.

"We're game-ready," Stubler said. "And we practise well. I expect to play well."

In their first foray into Regina against the Saskatchewan Roughriders, the Eskimos allowed nearly 200 yards through the air and 70 more on the ground in a 23-22 loss.

Last week against the Calgary Stampeders, the Eskimos gave up 282 passing yards and 133 rushing in a 37-22 loss.

"I used to never get beat deep," Stubler said. "My defence in two preseason games had more long plays than an entire season. That was unacceptable and some of the people that were responsible for that aren't here anymore.

"I'm honest to a fault and we just don't do that."

One of those long plays came on the ground.

"We gave up one long run during the deal and that was (because) we went the wrong direction, so what can I say? The other team's playing, too," Stubler said of a 47-yard touchdown run by LaMarcus Coker that pushed Calgary over the 100-yard rushing mark.

Stubler's message was received loud and clear.

"Not good enough," said linebacker Rod Davis. "He's been very successful in the past.

"Accountability is everything to this D. Those two preseason games gave us a learning curve that we're not there yet."

And they know how far they have to go.

"It's obvious there's some things that we can improve on. We didn't have the best of preseasons," said linebacker T.J. Hill. "Call a spade a spade. We've definitely got to get better. Nobody here was content with the performances that we had in the preseason.

"We showed signs in practice of things that we can do "¦ and what we'd like to be. We've just got to translate that into the game."

That's not to say the preseason was all bad for Stubler.

"Training camp was to find that character in people," he said. "I didn't know the character of any man that I had here. It did that for me."

There were even a few diamonds buried in the rough.

"From the first day on, of course I didn't know any of these kids. I'd watched a few of them play in the past, but I've been really out of the league since 2007," Stubler said, smiling. "We've got a few guys who are football players who may not look like it, but I don't think Dave Dickenson looks like a quarterback, either."

IN AND OUT: WR Marcus Henry remained out with a hamstring injury, while DB David Pittman has been on and off the practice field with back spasms. WR Chris Bauman (groin) remained out.

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