Momentum working for Stamps

RANDY SPORTAK, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:04 PM ET

Some coaches will tell you momentum can’t carry over to the next game.

The theory being each outing is a compartment that’s opened at the first kickoff and closed as soon as the final gun sounds.

Stampeders GM/head coach John Hufnagel doesn’t subscribe to that idea.

Sifting through the aftermath of Monday’s 32-8 thrashing of the Edmonton Eskimos, Hufnagel said he believes that one-sided victory was partially a product of the team’s previous outing — a 23-20 win over Toronto Aug. 28 — and hopes to continue with the rematch Friday night at Commonwealth Stadium.

“I believe that win against Toronto was a big part in our psyche,” Hufnagel said. “I stated after that game, if it was a close game, I wanted our defence on the field at the end to preserve the win because I thought that’s something that would go a long way in the confidence of our football team.

“Winning a big game, which (Monday’s) game was, is also a big part of the psyche of your football team. To have the confidence, number one, they can win the nail biters as they did two weeks ago and then also have the ability to win the big games.”

No question, the defensive unit was deserving top marks on Labour Day.

Eskimos running back Arkee Whitlock was a non-factor on the rush and quarterback Ricky Ray put up pretty numbers — 27-of-39 for 274 yards and one touchdown — but it looked remarkably like a Kevin Feterik performance: Never a threat to actually win, and nothing of note inside the 30-yard line.

It makes you wonder whether Calgary’s improved defence of late is a product of the new bodies being an upgrade on talent or the unit finally meshing together.

“A combination of both,” Hufnagel said. “I don’t think anyone in the Stampeders organization or whoever follows the Stampeders would believe we’d have this much youth on the defensive side of the football, but we did for numerous reasons.

“Some of the young guys didn’t progress as quickly to being a CFL player and the style of the CFL, so fortunately we were able to find some very good players that had experience. That, along with the growth of the young guys, got us to where we are today.

“The defence still has a long way to improve. Offensively, we have to improve and special teams we have to improve, but I think we’re going the right direction.”

About time the Stampeders could say that.

Their 5-4 record would look good for the Argonauts, but not what the team or fans expected to see before the season began.

“Probably a little behind, truthfully,” Hufnagel replied when asked if his team was where he expected to be before the season began. “We got off to a rough start. I knew it was going to be a very competitive Western Division, so the fact we’re tied with two other teams doesn’t surprise me. Maybe the record, I would have thought would be a win or two better.”

The rash of injuries didn’t help. Nor did the air of over-confidence that permeated from the team in the early going.

“The maturity of our football team took longer (than we expected),” Hufnagel said. “We had a tough first nine games, starting in training camp, so I’m not disappointed where we are right now.

“I think we’re a team that has faced a lot of adversity in the first part of the season. The fact we’ve been able to come to this point and be in the position we’re in and, I believe, going in the proper direction, the right direction.

“I’m pleased with that.”


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