There could be a litany of things causing John Hufnagel headaches right now, but there is one area of particular concern.
He has plenty of issues to deal with after a 36-31 loss to the B.C. Lions Friday night, even though the Calgary Stampeders clinched top spot in the West Division with a Saskatchewan Roughriders loss Saturday.
There is the way Hufnagel’s squad has started the past two weeks, giving the opposition 14- and 20-point leads before responding.
There is the way his offence went cold for the majority of the second half.
There is the way a veteran receiver dropped the game-winning touchdown.
“The most disconcerting is our poor tackling or lack of tackling in our coverage teams,” Hufnagel said. “It was a huge factor in the game, especially in the fourth quarter.”
We’re starting to sense a theme here when the Stamps face the Lions.
This time, it wasn’t just Yonus Davis who did the damage, although the dynamic rookie returner was responsible for the go-ahead points.
Even after the Lions took the lead, they couldn’t stop Davis from gaining 49 yards. Eight plays earlier, he had a 46-yard punt return and both set up field-goals.
Hufnagel said the problem isn’t coaching and it lies with the players, who had Davis surrounded but were caught flat-footed as he fought through them.
“It’s not the scheme,” Hufnagel said. “They are in position to make plays and they have to make those play. They have to fight all the way down to put themselves in the position.
“Our coverage teams have been outstanding and they’ve been not very good. We need to be more consistent in our coverage.”
Davis wasn’t the only player to burn the Stamps’ cover teams. When they kicked away from Davis and went to Andrew Harris instead, the young Canadian was able to break free for major yardage.
If you take away a 28-point second quarter Friday night, the Stamps were basically manhandled by the Lions for the second time in a month.
To Hufnagel, at least it wasn’t the same as the previous loss at home to the Lions, where lack of intensity was the main cause for concern.
“We played some bad football through the course of that game, but we played hard,” Hufnagel said. “We have to do a better job in certain areas. Each game is a learning experience, and you need to correct things and move on.
“I wasn’t concerned with effort. I was more concerned with things happening on the field. Some bad technique got us into trouble.”
The Stamps have to also be worried about how cold running back Joffrey Reynolds was, totalling eight yards on four carries.
“When he was in there, we were throwing the ball because we were efficient doing it,” Hufnagel said. “He didn’t have a whole lot of success, and his numbers didn’t add up the way you would like. I would rather have a more balanced attack.”
As for Arjei Franklin, who dropped the game-winning TD and was distraught afterwards, Hufnagel certainly wouldn’t put any blame on any one player.
“One play doesn’t win or lose a game,” Hufnagel said. “He’s a solid pro and he will rebound.”