Winnipeg Blue Bombers head coach Tim Burke is ready to put a heavy load on quarterback Buck Pierce, who is getting his first start since he was injured July 13, but Burke was quick to point out the rest of the team must share in shouldering the burden.
With Pierce back in the football club's lineup after missing eight games, the Bombers (2-9) will host the Hamilton Tiger-Cats (4-7) Friday night at 7 at Canad Inns Stadium when the team will be looking for Pierce to lead the offence to the end zone for the first time in four games. The most discussed Bombers offensive statistic going into Friday's tilt is that without Pierce, and with Joey Elliott, Alex Brink and Justin Goltz steering the offence, the ship has not sailed. The offence has gone 13 quarters without recording a touchdown.
"The thing I told the offence was Buck is going to back, that's really positive, we're all happy with that, it instills some confidence in the offence. But we all have to do our jobs," Burke said after Thursday's walk-through at Canad Inns Stadium. "He can't win the game if he's laying on his back on the turf. He can't win the game if he's got to run for his life all the time. We can't win the game if he throws the ball to us, and we drop the ball. We've got to catch it, we've got to turn it up-field and we can't turn it over. Same thing with the running backs. He's going to hand it off to you, you've got to hold onto that football and gain some yards. It's up to the whole offence to pick their game up this week and help Buck out."
When Pierce is out of the lineup this season, the Bombers are 2-6.
Pierce said it's tough to call teammates out when he hasn't been playing but said he'll have no problem doing that Friday night.
"I'll be in their face if I see something that I think is detrimental to the club and the organization," Pierce said. "I see most of the guys out there playing very, very hard. Playing like they want to win. They understand the situation. We're not that oblivious to what's going on outside our locker room. We're a lot more aware of it now. Guys need to grow up, guys need to understand about repercussions."
Burke said Pierce may have some "rust" from not playing but he doesn't expect it to be a factor.
"When we get back into the game and see him play, we'll all have forgotten how quick a release he has," Burke said. "He does have stronger arm. In that respect, the ball is going to get to the receiver a little bit quicker. All the good things he brings will overcome some of the rust that he has."