Potential breeds disaster

DAN TOTH -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 11:05 AM ET

HAMILTON -- Ron Lancaster, with more than 40 years experience in the CFL, made an ominous observation the other day.

While pondering his own team's problems, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats interim head coach pointed out 'potential' sometimes means you could be great or just good enough to get beat.

Just 24 hours later, the Calgary Stampeders personified the silver-haired coach's adage. By piling up more than 400 yards total offence yet managing to find the endzone once Friday night, the Stamps again showed plenty of potential in losing 20-17 to the previously winless Tabbies.

After thumping Saskatchewan a week earlier, the Stampeders appeared to have just scratched the surface of their offensive promise. Hidden beneath, one assumes, is an untapped reserve of touchdowns and impressive scoring drives.

Now one has to wonder, even though that elusive promise of an unstoppable attack is obviously there, if that potential will ever be realized.

There is also the curious play calling of either head coach Tom Higgins or offensive co-ordinator Steve Buratto.

After calling a timeout with 18 seconds remaining in the first half, with the Stamps scrimmaging at Hamilton's two-yard line and down 7-4, Calgary only got off two plays before the gun sounded, preventing an easy field goal.

In the final minute of the game, with the contest tied and Calgary pinned at its own 10-yard line, pivot Henry Burris rolled out and threw the ball into the stands, stopping the clock. After scrambling for nine yards on second down, a shanked punt by Burke Dales left Hamilton in range to kick the winning field goal.

That's hardly wise clock management.

Burris completed 15-of-24 passes for 228 yards and one TD but the starter also tossed his fifth interception of the season to go with just seven touchdowns.

"Offence is a very finicky side of the ball," said Burris. "If one guy makes a mistake, the whole offence needs somebody to improvise and bail you out.

"It's not like defence where a DB can make a mistake and then the safety can drift over top and help out the corner. Offence is finicky like that."

Finicky, indeed. Scrimmaging at the Hamilton two with first and goal late in the first half, Calgary was kept out of the endzone on successive plays.

A miscue between Burris and receiver Nik Lewis also led to a first-quarter interception the Ticats converted into their first touchdown.

The team again couldn't move the ball out of its own end in the final minute with the contest tied, allowing Hamilton to kick the game-winning field goal.

The loss overshadowed another sensational night from Joffrey Reynolds. The Stampeders tailback ran the ball 14 times for 100 yards to take the CFL rushing lead over Winnipeg's Charles Roberts.

"Early on, we spread the ball out well, made a couple of plays downfield, a couple of screen plays going and developed a rhythm," said Reynolds, who also caught two passes for 45 yards. "It was unfortunate that we couldn't keep that going. I think we only had the ball for about four plays in the third quarter and that kind of killed us right there."

Reynolds is also setting an impressive average per carry, crashing his way to more than seven yards every time he latches onto the ball.

With 489 yards in five games, Reynolds is on pace for a 1,760-yard season and on track to challenge Willie Burden's team rushing record of 1,896 in 1975. The Stamps are now 3-2 and remain in sole possession of first place in the West, two points up on the other three clubs.

LINEBACKER DOING BETTER: Stamps LB Cam Yeow suffered a scary injury while diving towards Tiger-Cats QB Jason Maas Friday but he appears to be OK. He was taken to hospital for a CT scan, which revealed minimal damage. The second-year pro returned to Calgary yesterday with the team.


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