May 7th, brought the third teleconference of the CFL’s Season Preview series. Today we heard from Calgary Stampeders’ President and CEO; Gordon Norrie, as well as Head Coach and GM; John Hufnagel. Here are the hard-hitting facts that came from that call:
When asked about their success in the later rounds of the CFL Draft, John Hufnagel noted:
- “You want to do your best job in every round.” Latest example of a late round success is Shane Bergman. “Shane came in, spent time developing 2 years ago and then became a significant part of last year’s club.”
Following up on the same question asked to Len Rhodes (Edmonton) yesterday, Norrie had these thoughts regarding season start dates:
- Len and Gordon agree that the season should end earlier to account for inclement weather.
- It is not as simple as starting the season earlier, as the West still has inclement weather in May. Even snow, *ahem* Edmonton.
Reporters asked Huff what’s harder: creating a championship team, or repeating it?
- “By doing the math, repeating is more of a challenge than doing it the first time.”
- As a coach, Huff had the opportunity between 2008 and 2009. Calgary ultimately fell to Saskatchewan in the playoffs of 2009.
- As a player, Huff had the opportunity between 1984 and 1985. Winnipeg made the 1985 playoffs but did not play in the Grey Cup Championship.
- Huf has a group of core veterans from 2009 that has already gone through the struggle of following-up a championship. Those vets have been working immensely hard this off-season.
Regarding the new pass-interference rules in the CFL, Huff believes:
- Technique among DB’s shouldn’t be that different.
- Certain defense schemes will need to change as a result of new rules.
- There will be a need to make sure current players understand the changes.
- “Change of direction” is now an even more important skill set for receivers and DB’s, based on the changes.
Hufnagel noted that the new kicking rules will lead to more space for returners. “We have to do a good job of covering.”
- Bigger body special teams player that can run will become more important with the added time at the line of scrimmage.
The Calgary O-Line lost big components (figuratively and literally), but Huff also made sure to mention:
- Edwin Harrison will start at left tackle. The former Rookie of the Year candidate only lost his spot to Stanley Bryant due to injury. Calgary won a lot of games with him playing.
- Pierre Lavertu will have a big challenge this season, but that’s why they drafted him.
When asked specifically about Bo Levi Mitchell, Hufnagel mentioned the following:
- “#1 he wants to win football games.”
- “#2 he likes Calgary, and he likes the Stampeders organization. He wants to make roots for a career in Calgary. He knows what he wants.”
- “The deal [Bo’s new contract] was TRULY fair for both parties.” Huff expects both parties to reap the benefits of it.
Next Friday, the Ottawa REDBLACKS will have their opportunity to answer questions heading into the 2015 CFL season.