Monday, September 06, 2004

Stampeder defence puts in a full day of frustrating work

The Calgary Stampeders can thank their defence for keeping this years Labour Day Classic from getting totally out of hand. Despite a solid performance from the Stamps D crew, the Eskimos still managed to dominate the Calgarians, taking a win out of McMahon stadium with a 25-7 handling of Matt Dunnigans confused offensive squad.

Try as hard as they did with some big plays on defence, the Stamps couldn’t find a way to make their offensive brothers get their act together. A telling moment in the game was in the third quarter, when the Stamps defence had once again turned aside an Eskie attack, sending the Offence out to get some points, only to have to head back out on the field after one play after an untimely turnover. The reaction of the Stamps defensive co-ordinator, Denny Crehan said it all, as he all but threw away his clipboard in disgust.

In short, the Stamps problems are all on the offence. This is a team that seems to be in terrible trouble at the moment, unsure of how to approach the game and incapable of sustaining drives or making the big plays. Dropped passes, no protection for the Quarterback, small gains on the run, and poor execution. It's as if all of the little things have been forgotten, leading to a confused attack that far too often leads to two downs and punt. It’s hard to reach the end zone if you can’t make ten yards.

This Labour Day game once again was played in front of a sold out McMahon stadium crowd, who were hoping for a barn burner and ended up at a barn painter! At least the faithful could hold out some hope until the third quarter. The Stamps should only have been trailing by 12 points going into the half, but a mis-timed pass from Tommy Jones was picked off by Malcolm Frank and returned 56 yards for a spirit crushing touchdown. It also spelled the end of Jones' time behind the centre in this game, as Marcus Crandell took the ball for the third quarter,

But for all their faults the Stamps didn’t give up at the half, they took advantage of another big play from their defence and punched in a touchdown early in the third quarter pulling to within twelve points of the Esks to start the third quarter, making that second quarter interception appear even more costly. However, the rally sputtered out shortly after that, the Esks picked up two more field goals, putting the game to rest at 25-7, never really in any danger of losing, they then went on to control the play and frustrate the Stamps and their fans even further.

Jason Maas played most of the game but gave way to Bart Hendricks in the third quarter after receiving a burner on his hand. With the game well under control there was no urgency to having the key component of the Esks attack remain in the game. As for the record watch, Mike Pringle did not score any touchdowns in this one and rushed for only 76 yards, thus George Reeds contributions to CFL lore will stand for at least one more week.

The Eskies take the two points and keep the pace of the division leading BC Lions, who take on Ottawa on Saturday afternoon. The Stamps and Esks, renew acquaintances on Friday night, this time in Edmonton. The Stamps retired Allen Pitt’s fabled number 18 at half time, perhaps they can see if he wants to tag along for the ride to Edmonton. If he’s not inclined to strap on the pads anymore, the least he could do is run a clinic for Stampeder receivers, they are a class of students who are in desperate need of schooling in the fine art of catching a football.

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