Jason Maas is in the midst of a very strange week.
"I know it's just another football game and it really, really is," said Maas, referring to Saturday's game in Hamilton against his old club, the Edmonton Eskimos.
"But leading up to it there are a lot of weird feelings I have."
And that's fitting because this whole season has been weird for the Tiger-Cats' starting pivot.
A former 5,000-yard passer with Edmonton, the 30-year-old gunslinger is mired in a horrific personal slump this season.
The lowest-rated starting quarterback in the CFL, Maas leads the league with 17 interceptions and has thrown for just 2,509 yards after 13 games.
A hero in last year's Grey Cup run for the Esks, he's now being slammed by his head coach.
"We have to learn to pass the football," blurted Ron Lancaster after Hamilton dropped to a league-low 2-11 last weekend.
It's hard to imagine an uglier statement against a quarterback this year.
"He had just watched two games when we had thrown seven picks and (that) pretty much took us out of two ball games," Maas told the Sun yesterday with a very noticeable sigh of frustration.
"Do I agree with his (opinion)? In part, I do, but I don't think anyone on offence forgot how to throw the ball or catch it. We just didn't execute."
To Maas, a brutal lack of execution is the reason he's struggling this year.
"We have all made our mistakes through the year," he explained.
"Collectively, 12 guys play together to make it work and we haven't done that enough this year.
"It's extremely frustrating and it's not at all how I envisioned this would be."
Picked to play in the Grey Cup by many so-called experts to start the year, Hamilton might not win another game this season.
Not healthy until near the end of last year, Maas admits he's banged-up this year. But he's not using that as an excuse for his inability to effectively throw the deep ball or find the end zone.
"I have played through injures before and been successful," said the Wisconsin native, who still has a home in Sherwood Park.
"I have had some of my best games in this league when I have been injured."
And Maas isn't going to use now-departed offensive co-ordinator Joe Paopao's play calling as an excuse. "Plays are plays," stated the fiery locker-room leader, who was officially dealt to Hamilton from Edmonton on Dec. 5, 2005.
"We didn't execute all the time when plays were called and that's where we got into a lot of trouble."
TOO MANY CHANGES
But while Maas won't point fingers at reasons for his brutal season, close friend Danny Maciocia will.
"They made a million changes out there in the off-season," said the Eskimo head coach.
"They brought everybody together and then they got rid of their head coach (Greg Marshall) after four games.
"Then they got rid of their offensive co-ordinator.
"Then they got rid of their offensive line coach.
"Now they have some other people calling plays and sometimes (Maas) gets to call them.
"You are going to struggle when stuff like that happens."
However, one thing is guaranteed with Maas: he's not going to quit.
"I'm not ready to give up on anything. I'm still working hard and trying to correct everything and play through everything coming my way," he remarked after Hamilton's practice yesterday.
"At the end of the year I will be a better player for it, even though right now it's hard to see that."