Huf looks for special improvement
By IAN BUSBY, QMI Agency
|Calgary Stampeders Head Coach/General Manager John Hufnagel on the sidelines against the BC Lions during CFL football at McMahon Stadium in Calgary, Alberta, Saturday September 17, 2011. (AL CHAREST/QMI Agency)
CALGARY - John Hufnagel had the Calgary Stampeders finish up Tuesday's practice with a heavy dose of special teams.
Just a coincidence, he said.
Still, this is one area the Stamps head coach would like to see improve when the team travels to Edmonton for the West semifinal Sunday at Commonwealth Stadium.
"I didn't like the overall effort and execution," Hufnagel said about the special teams in Saturday's 30-24 victory over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
"We need to get better. If we are going to do anything in these playoffs, our special teams need to pick it up a notch. It's not scheme. It's guys paying attention, knowing what to do and getting it done."
Outside of a blocked punt by Chris McCoy in the first half, the Bombers were the clear winners on special teams.
Right from Deon Beasley's 50-yard kickoff return after a Stampeders opening-drive field goal, the visitors gained the upperhand.
Beasley averaged 27 yards on six kickoff returns, while Jovon Johnson averaged 19.3 yards on four punts.
On the other side, the Stamps had two fumbles on kickoffs -- one that was recovered by the Bombers -- while Larry Taylor had a 6.0-yard average on punt returns.
There is a chance the Stamps could activate veteran linebacker Marc Calixte to help with coverage.
Calixte missed the final half of the season with a torn elbow tendon, but he's ready to come back if needed.
Hufnagel said he hasn't made a decision yet whether Calixte will play Sunday, but the team's longest-serving Canadian wants to go.
"If I allow him to, (he will play)," Hufnagel said. "Marc has always been an excellent special teams player. He will help us in our coverage responsibilities. He has excellent speed and he helps in our cover teams."
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