'It's not all Henry'

DAN TOTH -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:02 AM ET

The pristine, white mustang galloping across the Calgary Stampeders' helmets is stuck in the mud.

Clear up to its shoulders, by some accounts.

In the opinion of others, its hooves are barely covered in muck.

Either way, head coach Tom Higgins contends, the same players and coaches who steered the steed into this hole will be the ones rolling up their sleeves to extricate it.

"We like our group but it comes down to having the playmakers make plays and they know it, we know it," said Higgins, whose No. 1 quarterback Henry Burris has been taking the heat for consecutive losses to Hamilton and B.C. as the team fell to 3-3.

"(We need to) support Henry so he's not held out on an island. All the coaches are supporting Tom, so he's not held out on an island. It's all hands on deck.

"Pressure's not a negative, not a bad thing. The biggest challenge right now is to react to it on an even keel, not overreact, not under react."

According to Higgins, overreacting would mean making lineup changes for reasons other than injuries.

Despite two potential touchdown passes falling through his mitts in the loss to B.C., Elijah Thurmon's nameplate was still on his locker yesterday and he was back on the field ready to make amends. He gets another shot Saturday in Regina where he caught two TD passes, including a sensational 73 yarder, in Week 4.

"It's the unit that needs to come together and be more consistent," said Thurmon, who arrived as a free agent from Saskatchewan in the off-season.

"I can only speak for myself but you have to put mistakes in the past. As an athlete, you can't dwell on the past. If you do, it affects your game performance. Once it happens, you've got to let it go."

Offensive co-ordinator Steve Buratto admits he's feeling frustrated about mental mistakes and minor miscues that have cost the team points all season. In the loss to B.C., a parade of penalties, off-target passes and dropped balls forced the unit to cover some familiar turf this week in practice.

"I don't think anybody has ever hidden from the fact they have to be accountable for what they do and it's not all Henry," Buratto said.

"Funny thing is, the things we're talking to them about, the first guy who ever coached them told them the same things. In peewee ball, Pop Warner stuff. It's a simple game but the same guys are making the same mistakes now that they made then. Now they're just bigger, faster and stronger."

Despite still enjoying the view from atop the CFL West standings this week, Buratto said he has become frustrated by the lack of consistency within the offence.

Through six games, the team leads the league in total offence (2,574) and yards per game (429).

But they remain third in points scored and a woeful fifth in touchdowns while Burris is last in completion percentage (56.4%).

"I don't think there's as much frustration from the group as there is from me," Buratto said.

"I'm frustrated we're not doing the little things we talked about doing since the day we came to training camp -- making good decisions. (If you make) sound decisions when you're blocking, sound decisions when you've got the ball in your hands, sound decisions about where you're supposed to be and getting there, it will all take care itself.

"I'm the most frustrated guy in the room."

While some coaches are becoming exasperated by the offence's troubles, the receiving corps remains upbeat. Ken-Yon Rambo said the team can't let negative emotions become counter-productive.

"Everybody's got to stay up, stay focused and just keep our heads on straight," said Rambo. "We just have to get the little knick-knack things ironed out."

The players had better hope they do -- and soon -- or they might discover the coaching staff's patience has limits.


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