Huf's mystery theatre

IAN BUSBY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 1:52 PM ET

The Calgary Stampeders starting roster is set, and preparations are being made for the CFL club's season opener.

But if you are looking for some first-hand insight as to how the Stamps will line up against the B.C. Lions Thursday night at McMahon Stadium, turn the page.

There is nothing to see here.

And that's just how new Stamps head coach John Hufnagel wants it.

All the prying eyes of the public got to watch yesterday were some players stretching and warming up for precisely 23 minutes.

Banished for more than an hour and 25 minutes, the media were let back in as the special-teams units kicked some field goals.

So coach Hufnagel, why the secrecy before you even play a meaningful game?

"Who are my starting players? That's the point. Right now, I don't know who B.C.'s starting players are," Hufnagel said. "If you were inside the practice, you would have a better handle on my starters."

Hufnagel is looking for an upper hand, so we have to give it to him.

All we can do is speculate and say we expect Henry Burris to start at quarterback. He looked pretty sweaty after practice, so he must have put a lot of work in.

But Burris said he didn't realize he was performing yesterday to zero spectators.

"I was focused on executing the game plan and making sure we’re ready to go," Burris said. "That's all we were thinking about. We know we will see some new things from B.C. From how we were preparing, hopefully we will be ready for it."

The Stampeders played the Lions Thursday night in Vancouver but lost 38-35 in the preseason finale.

All Hufnagel wants to give the Lions is video from that game, and the Stamps played fairly vanilla in that outing.

"Obviously, you can hold back as much as you can until the time comes where you have to expose yourself," Hufnagel said. “You need to take advantage of it. Every coach in the league is doing what I'm doing.

If I was somewhere else, I would be doing it."

Every CFL team is preparing for the regular season hoping to catch their opponents offguard with new personnel groupings and creative plays.

The Stamps are the only ones closing their doors to get that done. But it's part of switching gears from training camp to the regular season, where player evaluation is done and getting first-team players quality reps is priority.

It changed for Hufnagel Saturday when he made his final cuts and began drawing up some plays based on things he expects to see from the Lions.

"I enjoyed it," said the coach. "Saturday was a long day, but I (cleared) my schedule to do some game-planning. I look forward to that week-in and week-out. Obviously, I'm just an aid and not the game planner (because that's the co-ordinators' jobs.)"

All this makes the opener that much more interesting.

Can't wait to see some football.


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