Offence wants running start

IAN BUSBY, CALGARY SUN

, Last Updated: 8:37 AM ET

The operators at McMahon Stadium should set the clock to 8:35 of the second quarter to start Monday's game against Saskatchewan.

The Calgary Stampeders offence is planning on picking up right where Akili Smith left off when he was injured against the B.C. Lions.

Smith was starting to find a comfort zone when he left the loss to the Lions, having just completed his second-longest pass, an over-the-middle toss on target to Jeremaine Copeland.

Until that point, Smith and the Stamps were going with a conservative offensive package, trying to establish the running game and mixing in short passes.

It won't be the same this time against the Roughriders as Smith makes his second start.

"I really think we're going to open it up from the get-go," Copeland said. "I want to put all the pressure out there on them and see how our team responds.

"The jitters are gone, if AK had any. He's been in these type of situations before. If he did have first-game anxiety, that's all gone now. He has a quarter under this belt. The coaches understand that, so we're going to jump right into it."

Smith, who was 6-of-9 for 45 yards against B.C., doesn't expect the game plan to change too much against the Roughriders.

Joffrey Reynolds will get plenty of carries and will be called upon to gain some tough yards.

But the Stamps should be able to take what Smith did and expand on it, provided the groin injury that knocked him out last week doesn't hamper him too much. Smith has taken the first-team reps this week in closed practices and said he feels ready to run the entire offensive package.

"We're still going to be a bit conservative, but not too much," Smith said. "We don't want to start as slowly as we did. I was starting to see the field, the run game was going with Joffrey and then in the second half, (offensive co-ordinator George) Cortez was starting to loosen up and we started throwing the ball more.

"Unfortunately, I wasn't in the game and we weren't able to execute. I don't think the coach wants to get away from the game plan, which is to establish Joffrey and the run game.

"But injuries are part of the game and it's something we have to deal with."

The Stamps hit an offensive peak three weeks ago when they beat the Roughriders at McMahon Stadium.

That game featured Henry Burris connecting with Copeland and Nik Lewis on 80-plus-yard TD passes.

It was also a season high for Reynolds in carries (23) and yards (154). The Stamps put up 228 total rushing yards.

The big plays were important, but Cortez said the key was having the rushing attack working as well.

"We were fairly balanced in that game," Cortez said. "When we had the opportunities, we made those big plays. There were the two long passes, but we also had a scramble that resulted in a touchdown that was about 30 yards.

"This is a big-play league and you need those or you won't be successful."


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