As fast as three-down football gets played, as frenetic the pace of play, it’s only when the game begins to slow down that big plays and big nights are able to be produced.
Just ask Ticats quarterback Henry Burris, no stranger to the subtleties of the game, a player who experienced that rarest of moments last week, taking his game to a level Smilin’ Hank now hopes will carry over into this week’s matchup and beyond.
“Things are flowing,’’ began Burris. “You’re seeing things well and the game is moving slow to you. It seems the right play is being called at the right time, the right decision is being made at the right time and that’s how it felt the other night.”
Burris was so good and in control of the offence that he would end the night by throwing only three incomplete passes, helping his team jump out to a 32-10 lead at half-time en route to a 39-24 win over the visiting Montreal Alouettes.
When 30 attempts lead to 360 yards, four touchdowns and zero picks, a lot, naturally, must go right, beginning with pass protection.
When nights such as last Saturday night’s sublime effort unfold, hours of game planning and scheming are designed to take advantage of defensive deficiencies.
When opponents come with blitzes, it seems the ball is out of a quarterback’s hand quicker.
And when no turnovers are committed, an offence that began the season out of sync and is suddenly being hailed for turning an important corner.
“You’re just one step ahead of the defence,’’ added Burris.
A lot of what’s unfolding in the Hammer, at least from an offensive perspective, is the history Burris shares with head coach George Cortez.
While Cortez calls the plays, Burris has input, conveying to his boss what he’s seeing on the field, devising pass protection.
“We speak the same terminology,’’ said Burris.
This Saturday night, the Ticats get a chance at redemption, playing a Saskatchewan team that spoiled Hamilton’s home opener, a defeat so bad that Tiger Town was in predictable panic mode.
The Green Riders led 16-13 at the break back on that June 29 night, but would go on to blow out the Ticats 43-16.
“We feel we’re not even the same team from Week 1,’’ continued Burris. “We had a big identity problem trying to figure out the type of team we were.”
As Burris recounts, he had to answers in the huddle as many of his teammates were unaware or indecisive of their reads and responsibilities.
“Now, guys are playing and not thinking,’’ he added. “We’re playing fast and it’s fluid.”
And it can only get better as players continue to get on the same page with Burris.
Whether he can duplicate last Saturday’s magic, only time will tell.
But when a game slows down, it’s a sure sign that inroads have been made.
FANTUZ USES HIS HEAD
Andy Fantuz began to hear so much about concussions and brain injuries in his chosen profession that he would soon begin to use his head.
In this case, Hamilton’s star slotback who makes his return to Regina this Saturday, turned to Xenith helmets, a relatively new player on the football market that has given Fantuz a level of comfort and security he now cherishes.
“I wanted to protect myself,’’ said Fantuz, an imposing target who does most of his damage in the middle of the field, where contact is par for the course.
“I wanted to get the best product on the market. I feel it’s the Xenith helmet.”
In Toronto, Cory Boyd and Etienne Boulay, who have each experienced concussions, now wear the Xenith, while a growing number of players on both sides of the border have turned to it.
“I love it so far,’’ added Fantuz. “It’s comfortable, it’s effective and that’s the most important thing. It looks good, feels good and it’s supportive. It’s all about safety.
“A lot of stuff has been written and said in the media the last few years and it’s been getting more and more prevalent. I’m trying to set an example for younger players and parents that it’s (head trauma) a big issue. You have to be aware and do what you can to protect yourself.”
FOXCROFT SCORES A TOUCHDOWN FOR THE KIDS
Leave it to Ron Foxcroft to help turn a negative into a positive.
In Tiger Town, Foxcroft is affectionately known as Foxy, a diehard fan of the Black and Gold whose passion for three-down football is matched only by his disdain for all things Argonauts.
When Foxcroft, an officiating icon in the basketball world and inventor of the pealess whistle, saw Chris Williams showboat on what should have been a touchdown, he reached out to Hamilton’s sophomore wideout with a proposition.
Beginning this week, every touchdown Williams produces, $1,000 will be donated to Liberty for Youth and City Kidz as part of an initiative dubbed: Play to the Whistle.
“I strive to be a role model in the Hamilton community, so I’m proud to help raise funds to help youths in this city,’’ said Williams.
Entering Week 5, Williams has scored five touchdowns. He would have six had he not played to the whistle on a missed field goal he returned 117 yards.