Tuning well-oiled machine

Stampeders coach Tom Higgins will protect quarterback Henry Burris as much as possible before the...

Stampeders coach Tom Higgins will protect quarterback Henry Burris as much as possible before the CFL playoffs begin. (Sun Media File/Darryl Dyck)

RANDY SPORTAK -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 1:27 PM ET

One hundred and 20 minutes remain in the Calgary Stampeders regular season.

One hundred and 20 minutes until the real test for this club begins.

And since the Stamps know they'll hit the road for the West Division semifinal -- most likely in Saskatchewan -- Nov. 11, it means 120 minutes of tune-up time.

Which brings in the question: How much of that will fall on No.-1 quarterback Henry Burris and his recovering non-throwing shoulder?

"Definitely he's gonna go 60 (minutes)," said head coach Tom Higgins. "Good Lord willing, he's gonna go 60 for the next one, and after we're done playing Montreal, we'll put some plans in place for after that."

After keeping Burris on the sidelines for last weekend's 27-13 defeat in Winnipeg, Higgins has decided how to use his club's most valuable player.

He'll start against the Montreal Alouettes Saturday evening at McMahon Stadium, with the expectation of igniting an offence -- a whole team, for that matter -- that was again putrid without him at the helm.

"This game, moreso than the B.C. Lions game (which is the club's season finale), is an attack game. It's to be aggressive, try to feel good about ourselves," Higgins said before explaining what he wants to see.

"That he starts, he finishes, he plays as well as he did, throws the ball with some authority, runs with authority, controls the football team like he has all year and put up the numbers. But more important, put us in a position we feel good about ourselves and we can have one more win before we go into the Lions game."

That doesn't mean Burris has to dominate a Montreal squad that's lost five of its last six to actually be in danger of missing the playoffs.

Having thrown for nearly 4,000 yards and a league-best 31 touchdowns -- along with a 104.6 efficiency rating, also tops among CFL pivots -- Burris has taken his game to another level.

In fact, his value has been proven when the club has gone to anybody else to take the controls.

Since the Stamps can't move up or down in the standings, it'd be very reasonable to play Burris for half of a game or not at all, but he wants to gear himself for Remembrance Day.

"You don't need to take this long of a break," Burris said. "I'm fit to play, I'm in a condition to play, so it's good to get in there and get a tune-up going against two good teams we're closing the season off with."

Had it been necessary, Burris could have played in Winnipeg.

However, his left shoulder is still tender from the dislocation he suffered Sept. 21, and being a short week, it was best to let him recover more.

"I'm gonna have soreness from here on out," he said. "When I'm playing, I won't be thinking about it."

Although the Stamps really have nothing significant to play for Saturday, at least as a team, Burris insisted he and his teammates won't treat the contest lightly.

"It's gonna be a tough game, so it's a great way to prepare for the playoffs, a team that's gonna come in here and play hard to secure their playoff spot," he said.

"We want to make sure when we're going to Regina, or wherever we're going on Nov. 11, that we're on top of our game and ready to go."


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