Burris havin' a ball

IAN BUSBY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:43 AM ET

Henry Burris has a tight grip on the Calgary Stampeders offence these days.

The No. 1 quarterback is feeling comfortable using the new 'old' CFL football and is getting a firm grasp of the offence under co-ordinator George Cortez.

The league went to a new football last season and took plenty of criticism for the design in which two pieces were stitched onto the stripes.

The change wreaked havoc with several QBs because the ball would often move once it neared the target.

Quietly, the league went back to the old ball and Burris couldn't be more excited.

"I'm loving it right now," Burris said. "Just talking to some other quarterbacks around the league, we're all happy about it.

"The other one was similar to throwing a baseball. It's all about aerodynamics. It's made to catch flight so you don't have to put as much on it.

"I had to alter my throwing. A lot of times the ball would dip and stay high if I didn't do it right. Now I'm back to throwing the way I'm used to. It feels good to see it going where it's supposed to.

"When the air would hit it the other one, the ball would flutter and duck.

"When you see a professional quarterback throw 15 ducks in a row, you knew something was wrong."

The league listened to the QBs and kickers who expressed frustration with the seamed ball but have returned to the former one with little fanfare.

Burris isn't the only one happy about the return of the ball. Stamps punter Burke Dales despised the change and his punts in camp have tight spirals on them.

"I wasn't a big believer in the last ball," Dales said. "My philosophy is don't try to fix what's not broke.

"The seams would get watered down and it changed the weight. The old ball coming back, the feel is there, the flight is there. I'm getting better hang time."

With a better ball to throw, Burris can instead focus on learning Cortez's offence, which he is familiar with from their previous time with the Stamps in the late 1990s.

"This is kind of the same offence with more added," Burris said. "It's not a simpler offence because there are some complexities. The biggest difference is teaching.

"I know who to make my reads off in certain zones and what to look for and what to expect."

Cortez, the offensive co-ordinator of Calgary's last Grey Cup win in 2001, always puts things in simple language for the offensive players, not only the QB but receivers.

Burris likes that Cortez also doubles as QB coach, so he gets to work with the OC constantly throughout practice.

It's a big change from last year when Steve Buratto was offensive co-ordinator and Bill Diedrick was the quarterbacks and receivers coach.

Both Buratto and Diedrick are good coaches but Burris likes hearing one voice for every decision on the field.

"It's one relationship that's underrated," Burris said. "The quarterback is receiving all the plays from the co-ordinator. You need that trust there. It's something we've been working on."

The players surrounding Burris are enjoying his renewed confidence.

"It's a complicated offence but it's a high-powered one," said lineman Jeff Pilon. "We're getting the ball out quick and into the playmakers' hands.

"It's perfect for Hank. Boom-boom, make the read and get moving. Hank is really adjusting to it well."


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