Ticats QB Burris frustrated by losses

Tiger-Cats quarterback Henry Burris throws a pass against the Alouettes at Ivor Wynne Stadium in...

Tiger-Cats quarterback Henry Burris throws a pass against the Alouettes at Ivor Wynne Stadium in Hamilton, Ont., July 21, 2012. (FRED THORNHILL/Reuters)

TERRY KOSHAN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:09 AM ET

HAMILTON - For Henry Burris, the numbers look great.

But when the Hamilton Tiger-Cats quarterback glances at the win-loss column, the knot in his stomach tightens.

Burris, acquired from the Calgary Stampeders during the Canadian Football League off-season to help lead the Ticats to the Grey Cup, is at or near the top of the major offensive categories as the second half of the 2012 season begins this weekend.

If the wins don’t start coming, however, Burris knows his personal stats won’t mean a darn thing.

Are the Ticats in a desperate state as they carry a 3-6 record into the Rogers Centre on Saturday to face the Argonauts, who could put three games between themselves and their biggest rivals with a victory?

“We’re getting there,” Burris told reporters following a short practice at Ivor Wynne Stadium on Wednesday morning.

“The tough part is the last four games, we have either had the lead or been in the position to win in the fourth quarter, and we came up short. If we can make a play in the fourth quarter, we can win.

“But to me, one or two plays don’t decide a game. We have to get more consistent.”

The Ticats lay claim to the longest current losing streak in the CFL, one that stretched to four games on Monday when the Argos found life in the fourth quarter at Ivor Wynne Stadium and departed with a 33-30 triumph. Burris was intercepted by Toronto’s Ahmad Carroll for a touchdown that aided in the Argos’ comeback.

On the whole, Burris completed just 13 of 30 passes, a success rate he called “embarrassing.”

What bothers Burris is the knowledge that a few more catches here, some tackles there, and the Ticats likely would be over .500.

“It’s missed opportunities, but you can’t make excuses for losing games,” Burris said. “The bottom line is you either get it done or you don’t. It has been a long time since I have dealt with anything like this and I have seen teams where we came back and learned from our mistakes. Guys got tired of it. And that is pretty much where we are at right now. You see guys are tired of it.”

Burris has thrown 21 touchdown passes this season, the most in the CFL and one more than Anthony Calvillo of the Montreal Alouettes. His 2,674 passing yards are third behind Calvillo and the Argos’ Ricky Ray, and just seven of Burris’ 304 passes have been picked off by opposing defences.

Yet victories have been scarce, with none coming since July 28, when the Ticats beat the Saskatchewan Roughriders by one point.

“It has been up and down,” Ticats head coach George Cortez said in assessing Burris’ performance through nine games. “But we have had some bad (plays) and any bad play at the wrong time is magnified.”

The Ticats remain hopeful that their season can be put in the right direction, but a loss on Saturday seriously would scuttle that. Cortez has reminded his players that in 2001, when he was in Calgary, the Stamps were 3-6 after Labour Day but went on to win the Grey Cup. Fact is, though, those kinds of turnarounds are remembered because they don’t happen often.

If the Ticats can start eliminating mistakes, they might have a chance. If only they could emulate teammate Chris Williams, who again was named special teams player of the week.

“Things are not getting done by certain people consistently, and it has been shared across the entire team,” Burris said. “I’ve made mistakes, a number of different guys have, and it is costing us big.

“We have to learn from them, and hopefully it is right now. All we need is one (win) — with the talent we have, and as close as we have been the past four weeks, it can really snowball from there.”

EIBEN MORE TO GIVE

If the grass really is greener on the other side, Kevin Eiben has not experienced as much in Steeltown.

Not only did the Hamilton Tiger-Cats win just three of their first nine games, Eiben, who signed as a free agent with the Ticats in February after 11 seasons with the arch-rival Argonauts, wasn't able to make much of an impact.

The 32-year-old linebacker mostly has played on special teams, recording just five tackles when he has lined up on defence.

“I have been doing my special teams role for a while, but I think it is time for … I know I can help this defence,” Eiben said on Wednesday. “I know I have it in me still. I feel great, I can still get after it and let me do what I can do.”

Eiben would love to be on the field more often on Saturday in his return to the Rogers Centre to try to help stop former teammate and Argonauts star Chad Owens, who had 176 yards receiving and one touchdown in a 33-30 Argos win at Ivor Wynne on Monday as part of a 402 total-yards performance.

“If you get a chance to get your hands on him, jam him, throw him off rhythm,” Eiben said. “You have to make sure when he does make a catch that you bring him down right away, because he can make a lot of guys miss in the open field.”

The Ticats, meanwhile, acquired defensive lineman Torrey Davis from the Calgary Stampeders for future considerations.


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