As Mike O’Shea pored over the tape of his team’s stunning last-minute win over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, one thing stuck out in the Bombers head coach’s mind.
"The last drive was good," O’Shea said on Sunday, with just a touch of a smirk, of the 94-yard march pivot Drew Willy led to victory.
Was it even better, seeing it for the second time? "And the third."
The Bombers practiced on Sunday, though only O’Shea was available to speak to media. He issued up some injury updates: Receiver Nick Moore is day-to-day with a foot injury, and offensive lineman Patrick Neufeld is a little banged up from Thursday’s game.
Notably, slotback Cory Watson looks set to practice this week, after sitting out since June 26 with a hamstring injury. Whether or not he’ll play when the Bombers host Saskatchewan on Thursday remains to be seen. Other than that, "guys are starting to get healthy, it seems like," O’Shea said.
That’s welcome news, after a busy July for the Bombers’ resident athletic therapist — especially as O’Shea is still looking to learn what, exactly, his team can be. Yes, they’re 5-1, a figure that to Bombers fans comes as if in a dream. But the wins were far from flawless. "I think that we still have a lot of room for growth," O’Shea said. "To be where we’re at now, I think it’s good so far, but there’s still a lot of room to grow."
Through the season, O’Shea has pressed a simple message: the record is only as good as the last game, the future is only as good as the next. No, the head coach said, he doesn’t want to rein in the growing confidence in his team. But he wants to keep it on a level.
"There’s reasons why we have won the games we’ve won, and there’s reasons why they’ve been closer than we may have liked them to be," he said. "There’s reasons why we lost a game. I think it’s all based on fact. It’s not conjuring something up here. We’re looking at the facts of why we are where we are, presenting those facts, showing them how we can be better… that’s a pretty simple formula."
True, he agreed, it’s easier to point out mistakes when the players are riding high on the thrill of a win. But the coaches’ motto is keeping things consistent. "We want to play our best football right now, but hopefully our best right now pales in comparison to where it will be at the end of the season," he said. "But we’re talking about playing our best football this week, coaching them, correcting mistakes along the way so that our best football is better."