Stamps need to shake off complacency

IAN BUSBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:48 PM ET

CALGARY - At no point will someone drop a Dennis Green line after playing the Calgary Stampeders.

If someone said ‘They are who they thought they were’ in reference to the 2011 Stamps, they would probably be lying.

Are the Stamps the ball-control offence that chews up clock? Sometimes, not always.

Are they the creative defence that can give opponents fits? Sometimes, not very much lately, though.

Are they a confident group that maybe gets a bit complacent due to past success? The correct answer would mostly be yes.

“Maybe we’re like the (Los Angeles) Lakers,” Stamps slotback Nik Lewis said. “Just wait for the playoffs to come. Then we’ll put out our best games.

“It’s just a question. I don’t go out and wait for the playoffs. I play hard every week. ”

As their quarterback likes to remind people, the Stamps have struggled the past month but are still 7-5, which was good enough for first place in the West Division heading into Week 14 CFL action.

The best question is whether Henry Burris and the Stampeders will find themselves (whoever that may be) starting Saturday against the Saskatchewan Roughriders (2 p.m., McMahon Stadium).

Certainly, the Stamps are a contender for the Grey Cup this year. But at some point they need to: 1) start winning at home (2-4 mark at McMahon); 2) play with some urgency from the opening kickoff and 3) get offended by losses such as Sunday’s 55-36 whipping by the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

If they don’t respond against the 4-8 Riders — a team they handled easily in their last meeting — after getting called out by head coach John Hufnagel for their mental toughness, something is really wrong.

“I’m glad Huf called the team out the way he did,” Burris said. “We have to respond and be the type of team we know we can be. We have to make the right decision when we need to.”

So much has changed between the Riders and Stamps since Aug. 12, when Calgary went into Regina and won 45-35.

The Stamps have gone into a slide the past month, losing three of four games, while the Riders went on a three-game win streak after Ken Miller was installed as head coach, before they were pounded 42-5 by the B.C. Lions.

Yet there was a sequence back in that victory that explains much about the 2011 Stamps.

Although they scored on five of their first six possessions, they took the foot off the gas offensively. Slowly, the Riders chipped away at the lead, eventually making it a 10-point deficit.

Suddenly pressured, the Stamps went out and put together a long touchdown drive to restore a 17-point lead.

It’s almost like they needed a push before they push back.

“Sometimes, it seems like that,” Lewis said. “Look at our offence. Sometimes when we are down, we can go out and score easily. When the score is tied or we’re up, we don’t move the ball very well. When we’re down, we can move the ball easily and go down and score.

“I’m not sure if it’s a pressure factor. We have to be more assertive and put out great effort on every play.”

Maybe the Riders and their legion of fans will bring out the ‘real’ Stampeders.

“We know exactly who we are,” starting running back Jon Cornish said. “Sometimes, we forget about it. It’s something we have to understand. We have to come out every game excited with that swagger, and we will play like the Calgary Stampeders should.

“For whatever reason, we haven’t had as much as we need to. I wouldn’t say we’re a cocky team, but we are a confident team. When we don’t play confidently, we’re not successful.

“That’s the No.-1 thing we have to do. We have to come out with the wind at our backs and want to beat up on the Roughriders.”


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