Winnipeg Blue Bombers coach Tim Burke is looking for his offence to click this weekend after a couple of uninspiring starts where the defence managed to shine brighter.
“I wasn’t happy with their performance on the first days of practice but the last two days have been much better,” Burke said Thursday. “This is hopefully a game where we break out of our slump.”
The Bombers (1-1) will meet the Hamilton Tiger-Cats (0-2) in Guelph, Ont., Saturday.
The defence was the cog that kept the wheels spinning in their first win of the season in Montreal last week. Turnovers and sacks sapped the momentum of quarterback Buck Pierce.
The official count was five sacks but offensive co-ordinator Gary Crowton says it was really only three.
“Two of those sacks were the run plays where the back went the wrong way or the quarterback on the exchange fumbled, so they count those as sacks,” he said. “Anytime the quarterback gets a loss they count it as a sack.”
But five is what’s on the record books and he says they have to live with that.
“It is what it is,” said Crowton. “This week we’re really focused on our technique. We’ve got a lot of ways to protect where we can mix it up sometimes.”
Turnovers have also plagued the Bomber offence. The first play of the first game was an interception thrown by Pierce.
The Bombers fought their way back from a 14-point deficit and led for a while before bowing 38-33 to Montreal.
Crowton said he was happier with the start last week in Montreal, when the Bombers outscored the Alouettes 19-11, although turnovers were still an issue.
One of those three sacks, for example, was also a fumble.
“If you have mistakes you’ve got to put them behind you and move forward,” said Crowton. “I think we’ve done that, now we’ve got to not have those mistakes.”
With Terrence Edwards out of the offence this week with a shoulder injury, Isaac Anderson is in at receiver and both Pierce and Burke say his speed will be an asset, particularly as a deep threat.
“Isaac is probably one of the fastest guys on the team,” said Burke.
“Not having Terrence is tough because of his experience and his leadership,” Pierce said of the dependable slotback.
Anderson started three games at slotback late last season as well.
He is looking forward to the opportunity and said he has been riding in Edwards’ back pocket all week as he tries to get up to speed on spacing and using leverage to set up people on routes.
He says it’s time the members of the offence justified the confidence their coaches have in their abilities.
“The expectation is high so we’ve got to meet it with intensity,” he said, sweat running down his face after a strenuous practice that continued well after other players had left the field. “We’ve got to put some points on the board to help our defence now and then.”