The Stampeders have an awful, sour taste in their mouths.
They get an opportunity to wash it away Friday.
Two straight losses, including Saturday’s disappointing 29-10 debacle against the B.C. Lions at McMahon Stadium, have the first-place club facing plenty of questions.
They can answer a bunch of them when they take on the reigning Grey Cup champion Montreal Alouettes, who visit McMahon Stadium Friday night in the first half of a home-and-home series.
“Any team we’d play this week would be a game we’d want to play our best, but Montreal coming in this week — the Grey Cup champs back-to-back — it’s exciting,” said linebacker Juwan Simpson. “Nobody has to give you any pep talks. Nobody has to say anything. We’re looking to move forward against Montreal.”
The Alouettes have won three straight, and four of five to move into a tie with Calgary atop the league with a 9-3 record and solidify their hold on the East Division.
Calgary lost both games to the Als last season, but revenge against the champs is secondary to turning the page on their recent fortunes.
“We got away from a few things in that (Lions) game, but we need to move on,” GM/head coach John Hufnagel said. “We took a step backwards as a football team and have to go another direction.”
A starting point would be the special teams, which were a disaster last game. Place kicker Rob Maver missed an 18-yard field goal early in the second quarter, and the coverage, especially on kickoffs, was atrocious from the opening boot.
“The returner made a great play, but there were guys missing tackles. The return team, we take that to heart,” Simpson said. “We can’t be inconsistent like that. This is our first test to bounce back.
“Most of the times this season, if we weren’t at our best, the defence and the offence bailed us out.”
Players on defence did their share, but the offence left plenty to be desired. Quarterback Henry Burris took plenty of heat by completing just 11 of 26 passes for 136 yards, no touchdowns, two interceptions and a fumble, but the ineffectiveness was spread throughout the squad.
“That’s life for the quarterback. When you win, you get all the glory and when you lose, you get all the hate,” receiver Ken-Yon Rambo said. “I didn’t play my best game. We were discombobulated early and didn’t get going.”
And now the Saskatchewan Roughriders (8-4) are in the battle for top spot in the West.
Could the Stamps be feeling some pressure?
“Tell me what happens if you look in your rear-view mirror,” Simpson said. “You’re going to crash. You can’t do it. What happens, happens. What they do is out of our hands, it’s about what we do and that’s what we’re focusing on.
“Everybody’s come here with the right mindset. Everybody’s put that behind them, ready to learn from their mistakes.”
And planning to wash away that sour taste.