July 31, 2006

Higgins’ bunch dogged by doubt

‘When does the light come on?’

By Michael Petrie,
Calgary Herald

You want answers, Tom Higgins has questions.

His Calgary Stampeders lost their third game in a row Saturday night in Regina and are in a terrible rut.

Three weeks ago, they had a 3-1 record and led the Canadian Football League’s West Division. Today, their four losses are the most among Western clubs.

You might be curious about how the Stamps plan to pull this out of the fire.

So is Higgins.

“You stay the course but at some point in time, when does the light come on?” he said on Sunday. “When does it switch?

“We’ve talked about, ‘What do you want to do, and where do you want to go this year?’ Right now, we’re wallowing in doubt, we’re wallowing in a lack of confidence.”

You’re wondering whether the Stamps actually have the horses capable of working together to accomplish their lofty goals this season.

So is Higgins.

“You have to believe that you are what you think you are,” he said. “We believe we have good football players. Now, can we become a good football team?”

Given the way they’re played since pasting the Saskatchewan Roughriders 53-36 on July 8, you might be curious whether they’re regressing, rather than improving.

So is Higgins.

“We’re not going in the direction we’d like to go, but it’s hard to say whether we’re going backwards or not,” he said. “We’re stagnating right now.”

There you have it — the Stampeders have become such a complex puzzle that the man in charge can only take hopeful stabs at explaining the problems. And he can only guess how to correct them.

Think of the first time you scrambled a Rubik’s Cube.

You stared at it blankly, trying to comprehend how you might put all the sides back together. Surely, there was a way. But in the back of your mind, there was a possibility you might never get it sorted out.

That’s the way Higgins must be feeling.

“It’s not black and white,” said Higgins. “Nothing is. Now, it’s a matter of taking care of all the different grey areas.

“If you don’t think it’s going to change, get out. The reason I feel it’s going to change is because there’s too many good, character people in the room not to have an opportunity to win. That gives us hope.”

The Stamps were undone by turnovers, penalties and poor execution in their 19-9 loss to Saskatchewan on Sunday. The same problems have gone unsolved through this entire losing streak.

“The easy thing to do is make somebody the scapegoat – put him on the bench,” said offensive co-ordinator Steve Buratto. If the left tackle was getting beat all the time, you’d you need a new left tackle. If the right tackle couldn’t block anyone, you’d get a new right tackle.

“But it’s not like that. Each week it’s somebody different.

“We keep saying the worm will turn. And at some point in time, the worm will turn. But how patient can you be? That’s the question.”

Again, so many questions and so few answers.