Smilin' again

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON, STAFF WRITER

, Last Updated: 12:48 PM ET

CALGARY -- Henry Burris literally walked into the night in mid-July, leaving reporters without any comments in the wake of a disastrous game at McMahon Stadium.

After being yanked from a game for the first time in his professional career, Smilin Hank was steaming mad. And he didn't want anything to do with the media horde.

The Calgary Stampeders were in the midst of a three-game losing streak, with Burris having major difficulty finding a receiver - let alone the end zone.

But fast-forward six weeks and it's a much different story.

The hottest pivot in the land, Burris has led the Stamps to three straight wins, thrown seven TD passes during that stretch and was handed CFL offensive player of the month honours for his work.

"You learn from your mistakes," Burris bluntly stated yesterday morning.

And there was no shortage of mistakes during that three-game slide in July. The most glaring, though, cost the Stamps a win against hapless Hamilton to start the losing skid.

OUT OF BOUNDS

With less than a minute on the clock and the game tied, Burris showed terrible clock-management skills, throwing the ball in the stands and then running out of bounds on the next play.

Stopping the clock on the first play and failing to produce a first down in the series gave Hamilton enough time to kick the game-winning field goal on their next possession.

But Burris showed last week that he had learned from the time-management gaffes.

"Last week when I was scrambling against Montreal, I slid and stayed in bounds instead of going out bounds like I did in Hamilton," remarked Burris.

"It's little things like that that happen that you never forget. And I am thankful they happen.

"You never want to play a bad game but I am actually glad those things happened early on and therefore I learned from them ... and turned them around to make them a positive."

And Burris also believes snubbing the media helped him.

"It made me a much better person," he explained.

"I was pissed off after the game. You never want to get pulled because you want to be out there with your guys and have a chance to bring them back.

"When you deal with adversity, it builds character in a person."

The Eskimos have certainly noticed that Burris is making better decisions in the last month.

"He won't force the issue as much as he has forced the issue in the past," said Eskimo head coach Danny Maciocia.

Added the quarterback: "I'm seeing things better, and communication is at an all-time high."

But the 30-year-old import knows that must continue today against a desperate Edmonton team that is battling to stay in the playoff race.

"You always want to kick them when they're down, but it's also like trying to be a dog and fight a cat when they're backed into a corner," he explained.

STEAMING MAD

"They are going to come out and play hard. We can't aid them."

Like the Stamps did in the West Division semifinal last fall.

"We had a minus-six turnover ratio," remembered Burris.

If that happens today, Smilin' Hank will likely be steaming mad - again.


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