CALGARY — Riding a league-high four-game winning streak, the last thing the Calgary Stampeders want to do is slow down and potentially lose momentum.
However, with a compacted schedule at the beginning of the year and arguably the most critical stretch of the regular season schedule on the horizon, head coach John Hufnagel and his club admit they can use the extra time between their last game, a convincing win over Winnipeg, and their next opponent the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
“Having the extra time between games helps the players. It gives them an extra day to heal up,” Hufnagel said. “We had so many games in close stages early on, it’s kind of nice to have an extra breath so to speak.
“We’re trying to take full advantage of it, get the players rested, but as you can see they are here today doing strength and conditioning training so they can maintain their strength and keep in shape.”
A rarity in the Canadian Football League, the Stamps have over a full week between games and as they sit only one game behind the BC Lions for a share of first place in the West Division, they know that jockeying for position in the standings is something that will not come easy. The Stamps play five of their last seven contests against West Division opponents – two against the Lions and two against the rival Eskimos.
Calgary’s head coach isn’t getting too far ahead of itself however, with Regina playing host to their next contest. Although young, rookie quarterback Drew Willy comes without a lot of film on him and therefore, brings a lot of unknowns to the table should he once again get the call ahead of Darian Durant.
“Looking at last week, Drew Willy does have talent. He did some good things and they were in the game and had a chance, but things didn’t get done for them offensively. He looks like he will have a bright future.”
Perhaps the biggest advantage of the aforementioned time off will be a few extra days for the Stamps’ walking wounded to heal.
“I’m hoping to get guys back this week,” Hufnagel continued. “Smitty (Brandon Smith) would be the one that I hope would be able to get back on the field. I’m not 100 per cent sure. I hope Kenny Pettway can get back on the field — he feels good. But until you start running routes, it can be hard to tell.”