Esks defence meeting its goals

Esks defensive co-ordinator Rich Stubler says the team's balanced attack helps the defence achieve...

Esks defensive co-ordinator Rich Stubler says the team's balanced attack helps the defence achieve its goals. (Reuters)

Gerry Moddejonge, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:36 PM ET

It’s no accident the Edmonton Eskimos have held the opposition to just 19 points per game so far.

After allowing 55 points in three games to open the 2011 season, the Eskimos defence is surrendering an average of 18.3 points, which is right under the bar set by defensive co-ordinator Rich Stubler back in training camp.

“That’s a number that’s a goal,” said Stubler. “That’s a goal in the CFL that is not often accomplished in the CFL, to hold people under 20 points, and that’s our goal still.”

And a lofty one, at that, considering Stubler is new to the club, along with half the Eskimos roster.

“We had a lot more than half, in all reality, I think eight of our guys have never played (in the CFL) before,” said Stubler, who had just five players return from last year’s team to start for him this season. “But it doesn’t matter, we fly around and play hard as a group. As a group, we’re better than we are as individuals.”

After opening the season with a 42-28 win over the Saskatchewan Roughriders, the Eskimos defence tightened up for a 28-10 win over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. Last Saturday’s 33-17 victory over the B.C. Lions put them right where they needed to be.

“I think we’re right at that number at present,” said Stubler. “And that’s a fair number in this league, to be able to contribute to the chance to win, that’s where you need to be.

“Sometimes they’ll score 28, sometimes they’ll score 10, if you start averaging that in between, it’s 19.”

Obviously, Stubler needs things to be going right on the offensive side, where 19 is the number they need to beat for the plan to work.

So far, so good.

“Our offence has been spectacular. I mean, they’ve kept us off the field,” Stubler said. “We get to play fresh and get them a two-and-out and they go back out and run the ball some more. It’s great.”

But his formula to arrive at the number 19 is much less complex than it might appear.

“I don’t ever factor in anything when I say that, because right now we’re the recipients of a really, really good balanced attack,” said Stubler. “Our quarterback’s upright and I always said if they can keep him upright, he’ll tear up the league.”

The Eskimos have allowed the fewest rushing yards in the league, averaging 58.7 per game, just one rushing touchdown, the fewest field goals with four, and have the most interceptions, with six.

As for points allowed, the Eskimos are tied for second with the Ticats at 55, behind the Winnipeg Blue Bombers’ 53.

Offensively, the Eskimos are tied with Montreal for the most first downs (76) and most yards of offence (1,387). But Edmonton stands alone at the top with 422 rushing yards, even though their 93 times rushed is a league-high, while their 4.5 yard average is the lowest in the CFL.

But their league-low 92 passes attempted coincides with a CFL-best 71.7 completion percentage.


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