Not-so same old same old

IAN BUSBY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:42 AM ET

Shannon James just shudders at the memory.

A two-game road swing through Toronto and Regina with a chance to put together a winning streak.

Last July, the Calgary Stampeders fumbled, bumbled and stumbled faced with that scenario, losing the two games by a total score of 97-23.

"Those were some butt-whuppings we took," said James, one of two starters off last year's defence that lost 49-8 to the Roughriders and 48-15 to the Argo in a span of five days.

"Those are the worst I've ever been through. Usually when you get blown out the first time, you come back ready to go.

"The second one was probably worse. We were down 48-1 or something like that. That was last year and it's over with, so it is long in the history."

The Stamps have a chance at putting that horrible swing far into the memory banks when they face the Argonauts tomorrow night at Rogers Centre (5 p.m., TSN).

They go from there to Regina to kick off a home-and-home with the Saskatchewan Roughriders starting next Friday night.

In a weird coincidence, the Stamps may be facing the same two quarterbacks that burned them last year in the same order.

Kerry Joseph may play tomorrow for the Argos after being sat in favour of Cody Pickett last week in Calgary.

Then it's on to the Riders, where Michael Bishop could be the man at the helm for the defending Grey Cup champs.

Unlike last season, both of those pivots are struggling, and the Stamps have seemed to solve their road woes by going 4-2 away from McMahon Stadium, doubling their win total of 2007.

"Those guys are in different places and those are different teams right now," James said. "Our team focus and leadership is different this year. We have a lot of vocal leaders.

"When we go on the road, it's no different than a home game. We feel we can beat anybody, whether it is home or away. Our focus this year is a lot more crisp. We do a lot more film study and hang out on the road much more than we did last year. We're a closer team."

In that two-game swing last year, quarterback Henry Burris was yanked both times in favour of backup Akili Smith, who didn't make it through the whole season himself. In two games, the Stamps committed 12 turnovers.

"When it rains, it pours and it rained on us during the early part of last season," Burris said.

"I don't even know that team anymore, it's so different right now. It was awful, but we learned a lot about ourselves last year. There was a lot of turmoil during that situation.

"We went from Saskatchewan to Hamilton, and two days later, we were getting beat in Toronto. It wasn't a fun trip for us, but it built a lot of character.

"Those things happen to make us the team we are today. That will make us stronger now."

The biggest difference in the two-game swing this year is the time off between games.

Last year's trip started on a Sunday afternoon in Regina, then the team went to Hamilton to practice from Monday to Wednesday before playing again Thursday in Toronto.

This year, a Saturday to Friday swing will give the Stamps four nights back at home before going to Regina.

"They've changed it up on us, so hopefully our fortunes changed. The games are opposite so let's see if the results will be opposite," said receiver Jeremaine Copeland. "We're trying to get the victory in Toronto because it's been rough the past couple of years. We're trying to change that.

"Championship teams overcome things like that. If we want to be a championship team, we need to put winning streaks together.

"We also have to show people we can be dominant on the road as well as at home."


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