STAMPS DE­FENCE FAC­ING AN­OTHER STIFF TEST

Stop troops need bounce-back against dan­ger­ous Ti­cats, writes Todd Sael­hof

Calgary Herald - - SPORTS - tsael­[email protected]

They head to the Steel City hop­ing to steal a page from their own play­book.

That’s to re­dis­cover the de­fen­sive magic of the Labour Day Clas­sic and, at the same time, for­get what hap­pened in the Labour Day Re­play five nights later in Ed­mon­ton.

“How­ever you showed up on the first Labour Day game, whether you came out re­ally hot or whether you came out with a mel­low head, that’s what we need,” said Cal­gary Stam­ped­ers star line­backer Alex Sin­gle­ton. "Every­body’s dif­fer­ent. I like to be the calm be­fore the storm, but other guys like to be the storm go­ing into the storm.

“You’ve just got to be who you are and find that drive to be ready to play the first down and play the en­tire 60 min­utes.”

The Stam­ped­ers de­fence clearly wasn’t ready ahead of last Satur­day’s Labour Day Re­play.

That showed in spades by al­low­ing four-dozen points in a 48-42 loss to the host Ed­mon­ton Eski­mos, although it can’t all be put on the Red & White de­fence since the of­fence turned over the ball six times.

There’s no deny­ing the stats, how­ever.

DeVone Clay­brooks’ usu­ally staunch de­fence did al­low a sea­son-worst 482 yards.

“Did we do some bone­head things? Yes,” said Clay­brooks of the loss. "Did we do some things un­char­ac­ter­is­tic of the Cal­gary Stam­ped­ers de­fence? Yes.

"But you take the pos­i­tives and you also take the neg­a­tives, and you try to clean them up and fix them. And you re­ally need to know the whys so we can avoid those things hap­pen­ing again.

“It was like a trickle-down ef­fect,” Clay­brooks con­tin­ued. "The de­fen­sive line would take its turn mess­ing up a play and then the linebackers and then the de­fen­sive backs would take their turn. It just snow­balled.

“So we’ve got our work cut out for us. But it’s pro­fes­sional foot­ball, so ev­ery week, you’ve got your work cut out for it. And if you don’t come out to play, then you get em­bar­rassed.”

Like what hap­pened last week, at least in the first three quar­ters, when the Eski­mos did most of their dam­age.

“How we fin­ished was good, and we can learn from that,” said Sin­gle­ton of keep­ing the Esks off the score­board in the fi­nal frame. “But we can burn the first-half (film)."

Added Clay­brooks, “Those things that hap­pened we can clean up and are fix­able. You can’t teach and coach heart and grit and de­ter­mi­na­tion, and those are things that we have.”

They’ll need all of that Satur­day against the host Hamil­ton Tiger-Cats (2 p.m., TSN/770 CHQR).

Af­ter all, the Tiger-Cats, at 6-5 tied with the Ot­tawa Red­blacks, are ar­guably the class of the CFL’s East Di­vi­sion and did give the Stamps fits in the first game of the cam­paign.

The 400 yards the Ti­cats and QB Jeremiah Ma­soli rolled up in a 28-14 loss to­talled the sec­ond­high­est yardage al­lowed by the Stamps on the sea­son.

“They have weapons across the board,” Clay­brooks said. “Ma­soli’s done a great job in dis­tribut­ing the ball, Alex Green’s run­ning the ball well, and that re­ceiv­ing corps can run with any­body.”

Sin­gle­ton echoes that sen­ti­ment.

“They’re dif­fer­ent than the Eski­mos,” said the 2017 CFL most out­stand­ing de­fen­sive player. "Ma­soli rolls out more and ob­vi­ously moves a lot more than (Esks QB) Mike (Reilly). Mike stands there and takes hits. Ma­soli gets away from hits. Hamil­ton has smaller, quicker guys, where Ed­mon­ton is tall and longer.

“But at the same time, they both put up a lot of yards, so you’ve got to be ready to stop them.”

And get them­selves out of what­ever headspace caused their tail­spin in the Labour Day Re­play.

“We moved on,” said Stam­ped­ers head coach Dave Dick­en­son. “Win or lose, you’ve got to move on. You’ve got a great op­po­nent in Hamil­ton — you’ve got to fo­cus on what they’re good at and try to take it away. You’ve got to be fo­cused on mak­ing your­selves bet­ter. You’ve just go to put the ex­tra time in, learn and do some ex­tra things. If you do that, I swear, it pays off. So just make sure you’re locked in and mov­ing for­ward.”

AL CHAREST

Alex Sin­gle­ton and the Stam­ped­ers know they can’t have a re­peat of the 48 points they al­lowed to the Ed­mon­ton Eski­mos in the Labour Day Re­play.

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