Hank's in the tank early

DAN TOTH -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:33 AM ET

The Calgary Stampeders have a quarterback controversy and it involves just one guy.

Undisputed starter Henry Burris, from whom so much is expected this season, continued his struggles Saturday night in Edmonton leaving the team searching for answers.

The Stampeders' No. 1 pivot completed just 19 of 36 passes for 301 yards in an 18-14 loss to the Eskimos. Worse still, the man expected to lead the team to a Grey Cup this year tossed his second and third interceptions of the season while also failing to find the endzone.

Frustration appears to be building among the offence.

While Burris and receiver Ken-Yon Rambo couldn't find each other in the endzone, the two hooked up afterward at the Stamps bench. In a heated exchange after the QB threw an interception on what would have been the game-winning play in the final minute, Burris appeared to be blaming his receiver for the miscue while the man expected to make the catch was pointing his finger at his quarterback.

Head coach Tom Higgins said the verbal barrage isn't a symptom of rising frustrations, just two guys blowing off steam in the heat of the moment.

"Two very competitive men who want to win in the worst way just vented," Higgins reasoned.

"They were able to get it out. They want to succeed in the worst way. They let some steam off and now, hopefully, we will be better for it."

The Stamps have fallen to 1-1 after blowing this opportunity to take a four-point lead in the CFL West over the defending Grey Cup champs.

"Mistakes were made, we were in a position where we might still have been able to pull the game out but we just didn't get it done," Higgins said.

The Red Zone miscues haven't prodded Higgins to hand the ball to backup QB Danny McManus, brought to Calgary to provide the offence with some veteran insurance.

The closest McManus got to seeing action was as a mediator between Burris and Rambo along the sidelines as the clock wound down.

Higgins said it would have been "easy" to turn the ball over to McManus, a scenario he's determined to avoid.

"That's so easy to do," argued Higgins, still preaching patience for his pivot.

"It's harder to hang in there. We don't want to have a revolving door. All that said, we still have the mindset that we can, and always talked about, in that we can pull (Burris) to have an opportunity to reflect and watch and then let him go back in.

"No. 1 is Henry, No. 2 is Danny. Henry was still in a position to pull it out and he just didn't. There was never a time in that game we didn't think Henry could get it done and we wanted him to finish it."

Burris has been quick to point out this is the first time in his pro career he has been the starter in the same offence for two straight seasons. That, presumably, should have the unit purring like it did at the end of last season but that hasn't happened. With just two touchdowns in two games, albeit against the Grey Cup champions, the Stamps offence doesn't look prepared to challenge for that title.

On the other side of the ball, the Eskimos tandem of QB Ricky Ray and receiver Jason Tucker were certainly on the same page in the second half. The two hooked up for two 35-yard touchdowns demonstrating a chemistry the Stampeders are still seeking.

"They were able to get into sync," said Higgins, who coached both to a Grey Cup in 2003.

"It is very difficult to keep that combination from clicking (for the entire game).

"Now, after looking back at playing the defending Grey Cup champions twice, if we had been offered a 1-1 (record) we would have accepted that before we started. But when you win the first one and then almost come back to win the second one, you're going, 'Awe, wasted opportunity.'

"You get never get another chance at those."


Photos