Stamps coach's criticism resonates

WES GILBERTSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:26 PM ET

CALGARY - John Hufnagel figured he’d said enough.

Three days after questioning the mental makeup and resiliency of his team after a humbling 55-36 loss to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats at Touchdown Atlantic II, the Calgary Stampeders head coach wasn’t interested in rehashing his post-game remarks.

“I’m not even talking about it anymore,” Hufnagel said after Wednesday’s practice session at McMahon Stadium. “I sent a message, and I believe everybody understands my message.”

After Sunday’s loss at Moncton Stadium, Hufnagel had some harsh words for his squad, which has now lost back-to-back games for the first time this season.

“I think we’re a talented football team, but something is missing,” Hufnagel said. “We’re not a resilient football team as we’ve been in the past.”

Apparently, it didn’t take long for that message to spread through the Stamps’ locker-room.

Wednesday’s workout — the first of three prep sessions for Saturday’s clash with the Saskatchewan Roughriders — featured lots of intensity and was short on laughs.

“It just takes one person,” said middle linebacker Juwan Simpson. “If you say something to one person, that person is going to tell another person that he’s been challenged. And that other person is going to understand what’s going on. Guys know. If you’ve seen the game, of course, guys know they had to come out better and respond this week.

“We all have pride. We’re all competitors. We all play this game to win and we love this game. This past weekend was unacceptable and we’re all doing what we can today and in the next few days to get ready for this weekend.”

According to starting quarterback Henry Burris, Hufnagel also delivered a message with his pre-game roster moves.

The Stamps’ boss scratched running back Joffrey Reynolds, a two-time CFL rushing champion who has only missed one other game in a span of six consecutive 1,000-yard campaigns that dates back to 2005.

Reynolds was limited to scout-team duties during Wednesday’s workout at McMahon Stadium, with Jon Cornish and rookie LaMarcus Coker splitting time with the starting unit.

Afterward, Hufnagel confirmed he will “probably stay status quo with the running back situation” for Saturday’s meeting with the Roughriders. A few moments later, Reynolds told reporters, “I haven’t had an explanation on when or if I’ll be playing. I guess I’ll have to stay tuned.”

Reynolds is the Stamps’ all-time leading rusher and a future Hall-of-Famer, and seeing him on the sidelines was a bit of a wakeup call for the rest of the team.

“That was definitely a message. You saw a lot of guys kind of wide-eyed when the decision was made,” Burris said. “He’s a cornerstone of the CFL and of this Calgary Stampeder organization, but things happen for a reason. Coach made the decision to really get our team’s attention and I’m pretty sure he definitely has guys’ attention now.

“If we don’t improve on our status from where we are, that’s going to happen to more people than just Joffrey.”


Videos

Photos