The members of the Edmonton Eskimos defence know what they did wrong Labour Day and what they need to do to fix it Friday.
After giving up 31 points in a one-point loss to Calgary on Monday, defensive end Julius Williams says Edmonton’s defence has to do its job better when the two teams meet in a rematch Friday at Commonwealth Stadium.
“They’re a good team but nothing they did would have beat us,” he said Thursday. “We beat ourselves because we weren’t in the right place, weren’t filling the gaps, guys were missing tackles.
“It’s about execution, making sure we execute and get it done.”
The Stampeders’ home-field win pulled them into a second-place tie with Edmonton in the West Division, both at 5-3, with Friday’s contest expected to be every bit as close.
“We felt, honestly, that it was our fault we lost that game,” said linebacker J.C. Sherritt. “I think our offence played great, played well enough to win.
But we gave up some plays we felt we shouldn’t have.“
And the game film verified his thinking.
“Oh yeah, absolutely,” he said.
Defensive co-ordinator Mark Nelson said the Eskimos just “ran out of time” Monday.
“It was like a heavyweight, 15-round battle and nobody got knocked out, we were both standing,” he said. “We just lost on points. Now we go at it again and they have to come to our house.
“This is Round 2. Could be a Round 4, Round 5 situation (by season’s end), who knows.”
Nelson said his defence also got “out-formationed” on some plays because of the Stampeders’ motion.
“Little things that catch our eyes, some extra movement,” he explained. “It was only a couple of times but it hurt us. That comes back to coaching.”
Much of the pre-game hype going into Calgary was the matchup of Stampeder running back Jon Cornish against Sherritt, the league leader in tackles. Cornish impressed Sherritt with his 13 carries for 71 yards along with four receptions for 23 yards and a touchdown in Monday’s win.
“I saw exactly what I expected, what I saw on film, a great player,” said Sherritt. “This one-on-one thing, that’s for the media. If I were to get caught up in a one-on-one battle I would be letting down our defence.
“If I’m focusing on him that would be disrespectful to their other players. If you disrespect a player in this league he’ll make you pay for it with a touchdown.”
While the Eskimos agreed they have to pay close attention to Cornish and receiver Nik Lewis, their main focus was on their own play.
“We have to play sound football, read our keys, get aligned right,” said Sherritt. “We had some missed alignments. It’s a credit to them but we felt that was on us and we have to fix it.”
Veteran Kerry Joseph will again get the start at quarterback. Head coach Kavis Reed said the physical condition of Steven Jyles made the decision easy.
“We came to the realization he’s not where he needs to be to protect himself from long-term injury,” Reed said of Jyles who injured his leg in the Eskimos 26-17 win over Toronto on Aug. 17.
Joseph completed 17-of-27 passes for 311 yards and two touchdowns in Monday’s loss. He said the Eskimos must get off to a better start at home.
“We started slow down there,” he said. “We need to start fast, get the momentum.”
Reed said no final decision had been made on his running backs. Jerome Messam, Cory Boyd and Hugh Charles are all on the 46-player roster and who will be on the 42-man game roster will a late decision.
Reed said the decision will be based on whether the coaching staff is comfortable with all three dressing and satisfied they all had enough practice reps as well as how they contribute on special teams.
Notes: Defensive lineman Ted Laurent will not play Friday but defensive end Marcus Howard is a possibility to return; Punter Burke Dales, who left Monday’s game with an injury to his non-kicking foot, could be out four-to-six weeks.