With the Black and Gold looking to rebound on Friday, the Ticats’ veteran offensive leadership is preaching calm and stability to their less seasoned teammates.
Ticats’veteran pivot Henry Burris indicates that he has stressed the unpredictability of the game to his teammates, and the necessity of bouncing back strongly this week.
“Anything can happen on any given day,” says Burris of football’s nature. “Who would’ve thought that what happened last week would have happened? But things like that happen, especially to a team that’s new to each other and going through the growing pains we went through last week. But it’s about how you bounce back now.
“Of course, for a quarterback it’s based on every individual play. If you throw an interception on one play you’ve got to be able to come back and redeem yourself and lead your team. We’re in team mode as far as making that happen now. It’s about us as a team collectively knowing our assignments, bouncing back and playing the way that we’re expected to play.”
Execution on offence has been a central priority of the Ticats this week, and Burris argues that the key to improvement in that area is personal accountability among the Black and Gold’s offensive players.
“Guys have got to take it upon themselves as individuals,” says Burris of eliminating mental mistakes. “Really, each and every guy is given a responsibility on every given play to go out there and respond and perform that function as far as what their job is. Each guy has to put it upon their shoulders to get the job done, because we are a team collectively, but it’s each guy doing their job that makes the team look good in the end. So that’s where it starts, because that’s the only way that we can get it done. We’ve been working together a lot as far as our passing and finishing drives here in practice.”
Confronting a formidable defensive unit on the west coast, the Black and Gold will be aided in their quest for points by their quarterback’s familiarity with the Lions’ defensive personnel and systemic approach.
“It gives some advantages due to the fact that I’ve played against these guys numerous times and I have a feel for some of the things that they like to do on defence in different circumstances,” says Burris of the value of his experience. “But I’m also familiar with the personnel they have as far as how they like to play and the different angles they like to take when they play man and different zone defences and what their strengths and weaknesses are.
“Being able to have that history with these guys and playing with them and against them through all of the heated rivalries that we had out west definitely gives me a leg up. But it’s all about going in there and making it happen now.”
Where Burris believes that his experience helps him to identify the threats posed by opposing defenders, veteran centre Marwan Hage argues that his eight years of CFL action have rendered him indifferent to individual opponents.
“Every week brings us a tough defensive line,” says Hage. “We just played one and we’re going to play one this week and the next. The challenge isn’t there. The challenge is within us ourselves to do what we can do and play mistake free and just go out there and have fun. Execution is always the key to success. Repetitive execution in a successful way.
“If the guys go out there and play well, it doesn’t matter who we play against. Maybe it’s experience talking, but to me I don’t really care who lines up in front of me. I’ve been around this dance for a long time, so it doesn’t matter.”
For Hage, rebounding well on Friday depends on sticking to the program already established through training camp and practice, and maintaining the even keel that he and his unit cherish.
“Our offensive line, we approach everything very steadily,” says the veteran centre. “We have our goals and our mission as far as how we want to be seen and what we want to do. We just go into in the meeting room and grind it out and go out there and do the best that we can.”
To combat the Lions’ capable defenders, Burris suggests that his group must employ variety and relieve pressure on the aerial attack by running effectively.
“We’ve got to be ready to keep them off balance by mixing up the pass and the run, but we have to be able to run the ball and get our running backs into the second level,” says the veteran quarterback. “On the back end we have to be able to go after their secondary. We’ve got a very good receiving corps but we’ve got to be able to finish off drives.”