Henry Burris won’t be getting the hook from short-yardage situations, at least not yet.
Although his first rushing attempt since getting demoted to backup quarterback was a fumble, Calgary Stampeders head coach John Hufnagel didn’t put the blame on the 36-year-old veteran.
In the second quarter of Sunday’s 32-27 victory over the Montreal Alouettes, Burris went in on third-and-one with the thought of plunging for a first down.
But centre Tim O’Neill snapped the ball before Burris was ready to accept it and the quarterback never had a chance as it was underneath a pile of bodies.
The Alouettes recovered and after a lengthy review had the turnover. The Stamps were fortunate that their defence came up with a turnover on downs to stop the Als from getting momentum.
When Drew Tate took over for Burris as the starter two weeks ago, the veteran was asked to run the short-yardage unit full-time for the first time since the 2009 season.
He admits he’s a bit rusty.
“How many snaps have Tim and I taken in that situation?” Burris said. “My cadence is a bit slower than Drew’s. He fired off earlier and everybody else was trying to anticipate the snap count.
“We learned from it after that. We made it happen after that. I had to speed up my snap count after that because he wasn’t used to it. We made a mistake, but we got on the same page and made it happen after that.”
Burris and O’Neill admit they will put in some extra time this week to make sure that area is shored up.
Usually at this point in the season, a CFL team is fine-tuning more than developing a different skill, so this is unique for both Burris and O’Neill.
Still, the fourth-year Stampeders centre said there is no reason they can’t become as proficient a unit as when Tate ran things.
“When it comes down to it, it’s just a snap and you should be able to get that done no matter who is in there,” O’Neill said. “It’s not that difficult.
“The sneak is a lot different than most under-centre plays. I’m just firing forward and really low. On other plays, you are much more balanced. It’s a little different. It shouldn’t be a problem though.”
Later in Sunday’s win, Burris did manage to rush for a first down on a short-yardage plunge.
Twice, down on the goal-line each time, Burris tossed the ball to running back Jon Cornish, who ran in for touchdowns.
There was a debate on TSN’s panel at halftime about whether Burris should be subjected to this situation due to his veteran status, and there is no question the QB isn’t excited about it.
Still, he’s taking this job as one he must complete.
“Is it something I want to do? No,” Burris said. “But I will do it for the team’s sake.
“We knew there would be growing pains. Even when Drew started there were growing pains. I have more of a veteran cadence and his is young and vibrant with a lot of energy. It’s a lot faster.
“Luckily we had the chance to overcome it thanks to the way our team played on defence.”