Diedrick mentoring Burris on Notre Dame's dime

IAN BUSBY -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 11:23 AM ET

WINNIPEG -- As a student of the game, Henry Burris has found the perfect mentor in Bill Diedrick.

Never before in Burris' professional career has the Calgary Stampeders quarterback's throwing motion and footwork been more analysed on a daily basis.

And having a dedicated quarterbacks coach has paid off for the free-agent signing, despite the fact the Stamps aren't paying Diedrick.

"He focuses in on little things," said Burris, whose Stamps take on the Blue Bombers in Winnipeg today (2 p.m., Ch. 21). "If you rep things time and time again, it becomes second nature.

"We'll do certain drills over and over and over and you might think that's stupid if you're a new guy but, over the course of time, I've found myself doing it during a game."

Diedrick came to the Stampeders from Notre Dame, where he was let go while still under contract. So, Diedrick is being paid by the NCAA school and doesn't cost the Stamps this season.

But to keep their No. 1 quarterback happy, the CFL club might have to throw some decent cash Diedrick's way this off-season.

"I've expressed it to (president Ted) Hellard and (owner John) Forzani so many times," Burris said. "I think they've seen the growth of me and the other quarterbacks throughout the season. He's helped with my decision making as well and you can see it. I'm pretty sure they'll have him back next year."

Every day after practice, Diedrick keeps his pivots around to work on footwork. He makes them bounce their legs up and down and move in a circle until he gives a signal to throw, which they fire as fast as possible.

The drill is to emulate a pressure situation and Burris said it works having a little general directing things. But Diedrick is far from a drill sergeant and more like a technician, giving advice on each motion.

"It's all about fundaments with feet," Burris said. "He puts us through different drills to make us better. There's a little bit of everything. Most of it is to throw the same under pressure.

"You never want your weight to be backwards because you'll put the ball down towards the grass. If you maintain a sense of balance, you'll have a smooth throwing motion."

The proof is in the numbers. Since returning from a thumb injury two weeks ago, Burris has yet to toss an interception in back-to-back wins.

In fact, Burris has only tossed two picks in his past six games after starting with 10 in seven contests.

And, as the Stamps head into the playoffs, Burris said his confidence in his own abilities has never been higher thanks to Diedrick's help.

"I've never had somebody work on my technique since college," Burris said. "If you don't have anybody doing that for 10 years, things stray away and you'll be out there freelancing more than you should."

As for finding some room in his budget to keep Diedrick on staff, head coach Tom Higgins will find a way.

"We'll keep him around." Higgins said. "It's too early to talk about the next year but the relationship should be there for a couple of years, easily."


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