Time for Hank to respond

IAN BUSBY -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 10:44 AM ET

REGINA -- Whether Tom Higgins likes it or not, a precedent could be set tonight with his starting quarterback.

Coming off the first yanking of Henry Burris' pro career due to a poor performance, the Calgary Stampeders pivot can show his head coach how motivated he becomes by being doubted.

Or, the CFL will see if pulling Burris in favour of Danny McManus after three quarters in a loss last week to B.C. has shattered Smilin' Hank's confidence.

The first quarter of the Stamps game tonight's against the Saskatchewan Roughriders at Taylor Field (8 p.m., TSN) will be crucial for Burris, although the leash will be long instead of short.

"We don't want this to turn into a yo-yo," said Higgins yesterday upon arriving in Regina.

"We don't want a two-quarterback system, although we feel comfortable having a guy like Danny coming off the bench."

The good news for Burris is he faces his former team for the fourth time since joining the Stamps as their starter prior to the 2005 season.

Burris has played to the best of his ability each time he has lined up against the Roughriders since bolting the Queen City as a free agent.

Earlier this season in Regina, Burris directed a near-perfect offence, scoring on all but one offensive drive in a 53-36 win.

But in three quarters last week against the Lions, silly decisions and bone-headed mistakes marred the offence, prompting Burris to be benched.

The jury is still out on whether it was the quarterback's fault but he dealt with it poorly, storming out of the locker-room following the game without addressing the media.

Higgins hopes, if a change is necessary again, Burris will instead use the time on the bench to learn from the veteran backup instead of blowing off steam.

"It was a brand new experience for him," Higgins said. "But he understands he's our man. We also want him to know he has the opportunity to learn from somebody like Danny.

"If the defence is giving us something we don't have an answer for, maybe we put Danny in. Maybe he can see something that will help get us going.

"If Danny does go in, our intent would be for Henry to go back in. We want to take pressure off Henry.

"That's not our mindset, though. Our mindset is we want Henry to play all 60 minutes of the football game."

Although he could have used some support from receivers (such as a few crucial catches in the endzone), Burris knows there were a few mistakes that added up against the Lions.

Poor choices such as forcing a deep pass when a short one would do or throwing the ball after he crosses the line of scrimmage are not the marks of a veteran leader.

The 31-year-old realizes he will be the catalyst of offensive consistency from this point on.

"I want to go out and prove I'm a guy who can make good decisions," Burris said.

"This is a chance to go out and reassert myself and us as an offence. We have had plenty of drives we should have punched in.

"This is a chance to show exactly what we can do: Sustain a drive and punch it in the endzone. Now we want to do it, then carry it over to the next game, then the next game. It only takes one game to get the emotional feeling back."

If it happens, he won't have to worry much about watching from the sidelines.

However, the easy solution for whenever the Stamps need a spark in the future might be to yank Hank.


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