Eskimos tackling issue on defence

GERRY MODDEJONGE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:30 AM ET

EDMONTON - The Edmonton Eskimos defence could learn a lesson from the 1960s R&B group Archie and the Drells, and Tighten Up.

What was once the stingiest defence in the league had already shown it could be blown up through the air by Anthony Calvillo. Now the Edmonton Eskimos are coming off a Labour Day rematch where they were run down into the ground by Jon Cornish.

Exposed across land and air, the Eskimos have now relinquished their place on top of the defensive heap to the B.C. Lions, who have allowed a league-low 181 points ahead of Edmonton’s 205 in 10 games.

“I think, defensively, we’ve had some miscues,” said Eskimos head coach Kavis Reed, whose squad has given up 51 points in their last two games after allowing 154 in their previous eight. “We’ve missed tackles.

“If I have to pinpoint one thing on defence that has created issues for us, it has been our tackles.”

Which is a problem for any team, let alone one built around its D.

“Because that is the basis of what we are, a fast defence that gets to the ball,” said Reed. “Last week is a clear indication that our tackling needs to be addressed.”

That’s because Calgary Stampeders running back Jon Cornish rushed for a career-high 185 yards on just 16 carries, including a 59-yarder for a touchdown.

“Any time you give up more than 100 yards on the ground to one individual player, you don’t commend that,” said veteran Eskimos linebacker T.J. Hill. “We’re not too much into stats, but the one thing we don’t want to do as a defence is give up points.

“That 100-plus yards was a key element in the game because that’s when he scored a touchdown.”

That hard-and-fast rule doesn’t just apply to opposing running backs, either.

“You never want to give up 100 yards to any particular player,” Hill said. “Whether it’s a running back or a quarterback. Even if it’s a receiver.”

The Eskimos will no doubt benefit from the return of sack leader Ted Laurent, who was shelved for the past four games with a foot injury.

But Reed downplayed the importance of putting the pinch on opposing quarterbacks to his overall defensive scheme.

“We weren’t a high-pressure team earlier,” he said.

If not, they certainly are now, with two defenders in the top-10 sack leaders and 24 as a team, which puts them in a three-way tie for the league lead with the Lions and Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

GREY DISPLAY: Canadian football’s Holy Grail will make its way to Edmonton on Friday. The Grey Cup will be on display and available for photos during the U of A Golden Bears game at Foote Field. Kickoff is at 7 p.m.

IN AND OUT: FB Calvin McCarty and LB Damaso Munoz were sidelined, while DE Marcus Howard (hamstring) was absent for the second day in a row.

Laurent (heel) is back practising and is expected to return to the lineup on Saturday, but fellow non-import DT Etienne Legare (ankle) is expected to miss more than two weeks.

gerry.moddejonge@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/SunModdejonge


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