August 31, 2012
Burris still upbeat despite losing record
By IAN SHANTZ, QMI Agency
HAMILTON - Henry Burris was fashioned in Purolator clothing as he lent his support to a local charity after practice.
Seemed fitting, considering his role as official-delivery man of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
If only it was as easy as Purolator shipping a few extra points the Tabbies' way.
Alas, it isn't.
But Burris, who has run hot and cold through eight games and nine weeks as quarterback in black and gold, doesn't think Hamilton's season -- they're 3-5, second last in the East-- has been lost in the mail.
"You're always going to have people write you off when you lose games," the 37-year-old veteran said following Thursday's on-field session. "You could be 10-0 and lose one game and they think the season is going down the drain. We can't focus on those people.
"The talent we have in our locker-room, we're only two games out of first place," the man known as Smilin' Hank added. "This season is a long way from being over."
That half a campaign remains should come as massive solace for a Hamilton squad that entered the season with great expectations -- but has yet to find its rhythm.
And Burris is no exception to the inconsistency.
His numbers are solid. He ranks second in passing yards (2,456) to Anthony Calvillo, has 19 touchdowns and lit the league up in July in wins over Toronto, Montreal and Saskatchewan, gaining player-of-the-month honours in the process.
But he dropped the ball four times in a humiliating loss to Winnipeg two weeks ago and when a team has lost three straight, no matter how or where, some of the blame must rest on the quarterback's shoulders.
In a pivot-driven league, as a quarterback goes, so too does a team, and both the Ticats and Burris understand there is room for improvement.
"Before I look at this team, I look at myself," said Burris, a former Calgary Stampeder in his first season with the Ticats. "I always look at myself first, because in order to make the team better, you have to be doing your job the best that you can possibly be doing it.
"I think I can be better and that's what I'm going to continue to work on."
Burris' approach comes as no surprise to head coach George Cortez, who understands the luxury of having a veteran quarterback, particularly when a team is struggling.
"I've been around Henry for a long time and I would say his demeanour is like it's always been," Cortez said. "He's very disappointed and upset when he doesn't play well, and, like us all, he's happy when things go well, but I think he's played long enough that he doesn't ride the roller-coaster at the top or at the bottom.
"He's on track to have a good year," the coach added.
With back-to-back contests against the equally inconsistent Argonauts beginning with the final Labour Day Classic at Ivor Wynne Stadium on Monday, there's perhaps no better opportunity for Hamilton to change its course.
That's certainly the plan in Tiger Town.
"We haven't played as consistently as we need to play. Those cold and hot times as a team, it definitely has resonated," Burris said. "(But) the (league) is still a tossup, especially in the east.
"If we can to make amends as far as making a run at Montreal and Toronto ... this is the best way to make amends for what we did in the last three weeks."
As he told a gathering of reporters during his participation in Thursday's charity event, "We're not after those emotional victories. The guys definitely are sick and tired of it and we've got to do something about it."
Now, it's up to Burris and the Ticats to deliver.