Maas looking for a spark

Hamilton Tiger-Cats backup quarterback Kevin Eakin spins the football on his finger while...

Hamilton Tiger-Cats backup quarterback Kevin Eakin spins the football on his finger while third-stringer Richie Williams watches how it's done during the Ticats' practice at McMahon Stadium yesterday. (Calgary Sun/Jim Wells)

DAN TOTH -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 7:59 AM ET

The Hamilton Tiger-Cats didn't trade for Jason Maas, the backup quarterback.

When the Tabbies acquired Maas, they wanted the guy who carried the Edmonton Eskimos on his shoulders in the 2005 West semifinal, marching the team through Calgary's defence when starter Ricky Ray faltered.

Maas understands the pressure to succeed in Hamilton and the weight of huge expectations, much like Stampeders starter Henry Burris faced after arriving in Calgary a year ago and still deals with today.

Winless in two starts, Maas will match wits again tonight with the Stampeders defence that failed to shut him down last November. Although he doesn't have at his disposal the sensational receiving corps he enjoyed with the Green and Gold, making the transition to Hamilton easier is the addition of former Eskimos teammates Terry Vaughn and Brock Ralph.

"It's helped me tremendously to have Terry and Brock, that's huge," Maas said yesterday during final preparations for tonight's game (7 p.m., McMahon Stadium). "Knowing how Terry runs routes and even the short time I've known Brock, as well. I threw a lot with him this off-season and that helps with a new offence."

Maas completed 15 of 18 passes for 144 yards as Ray's replacement last autumn, orchestrating two second-half touchdowns to upset the Stamps after entering the game facing a 23-12 deficit.

Through early-season losses to Toronto and Montreal, Maas said the Ticats offence continues to struggle, making the little mistakes typical of rebuilt units.

That is no longer the case with Henry Burris and Co., who are expected to light up the scoreboard every time out. Through two games, the Stampeders offence has faltered, scoring just two touchdowns while being kept out of the endzone Saturday night in Edmonton.

"We're just not finishing drives," said Burris, disappointed in a 1-1 season start.

Maas and the Ticats have failed to score 20 points in either outing, although Maas insists the CFL's only winless team is close to breaking out.

"I feel I know the receivers well enough to be winning ball games right now but, for whatever reason, we're not getting it done," said Maas, who spent six seasons in the Eskimos organization. "When I look at the film, we're not making mistakes because we've only been together three weeks. It's been little mistakes that you can't afford to make. You like to think you won't make those in Week 9 but right now we are.

"I know what we're capable of and we're not very far away."


Videos

Photos