STAMPS DEFENCE FACING ANOTHER STIFF TEST
Stop troops need bounce-back against dangerous Ticats, writes Todd Saelhof
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.”
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.