Stamps boss still not satisfied

IAN BUSBY; QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:50 PM ET

John Hufnagel is all business, all the time.

Even as he prepared to head out to a serene river for a couple days of fishing, he was still preoccupied with all the areas his football teams needs to improve.

The Calgary Stampeders head coach tries to instil a ‘constantly improving’ attitude with his team, but it gets tougher coming off a 41-point victory of their closest rival.

So, Hufnagel will try to enjoy a nice mental break over the bye week after his club whipped the Edmonton Eskimos 56-15 Sunday at McMahon Stadium.

The Stamps aren’t perfect yet, but that can be addressed when the team returns to the field Sunday.

Huf’s got a laundry list despite the lopsided thrashing of the Eskimos.

“I would like to see our offence be more consistent,” Hufnagel said. “It’s hard. I’m asking a lot there.

“Every team has a good defence. The defence we played (Sunday) night was very good statistically.

“We made plays on them, but we had excellent field position a lot and took advantage of it.

“We were two plays and out way too much (on offence).

“Our defence is improving each and every week and

I want to see that continue.

“On special teams, our kicking has been good, but our coverage team needs to be more consistent.

“We’ve had big returns against us throughout the year. The other team gets paid, too. Usually the other team has a great returner. We will lose some battles, but we have to fight to keep them out of the endzone.”

Another area of concern is discipline, and the Stamps allowed the frustrated Eskimos to goad them into a couple of late scraps Sunday.

The CFL is reviewing the skirmishes that included Miguel Robede getting ejected, but Hufnagel didn’t want to comment other than to say he would review it further himself.

There were six two-and-outs by the Stamps against the Eskimos, despite the offence putting up 501 yards.

The defence played spectacularly, but the special-teams coverage wasn’t great.

In the first quarter, Eskimos returner Kelly Campbell took a punt back 45 yards and was eventually tripped up by some sneaky moves from punter Burke Dales. In the third quarter, Campbell broke free for a 95-yard touchdown after getting past the entire coverage unit and eluding Dales.

It was the third punt-return TD allowed by the Stamps this season.

Among the positives, though, is the injury situation.

Although middle linebacker Juwan Simpson left with a knee injury, special-teamer Marc Calixte has a hamstring problem and defensive back Milt Collins was a part-time player due to a hip pointer, none of those ailments is considered serious.

They may even get defensive ends Charleston Hughes and Justin Phillips back from hamstring injuries in two weeks.

The Stamps head into their bye week at 6-1 to lead the CFL, and Hufnagel feels there are few things that contribute to the success.

“One of the reasons we have had a good start is this the third year of the core being here,” Hufnagel said. “There’s always changes but the core — the coaching staff and players — is still intact.

“They know what to expect and they are more attune to what we’re trying to accomplish in the three phases of the game.

“We’ve had good fortune. We have been relatively healthy. We’ve had our share of nicks and bruises but nothing in the major category.

“We need to get better and we will strive to get better.”


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