Blue Bomber Report Record: 6–11–0

Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Burke parties down with one beer after 1st win

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So what does a 58-year-old man who has waited his whole professional life to be a head coach do to celebrate once he finally gets his first win?

Surprisingly little it turns out.

"I had one. Once I got home," Tim Burke replied Saturday afternoon when he was asked if he got into any of the India Pale Ale he likes so much following Friday evening's 34-12 Winnipeg Blue Bombers win over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats at Canad Inns Stadium.

Only one? After such a historic win for you? "Yeah, it was late."

Burke held his customary day-after media availability at Canad Inns Stadium Saturday afternoon and was asked if he could account for how a Bombers team that looked dead and buried just a few days ago rose to the occasion in every aspect of the win over Hamilton.

"There's probably a bunch of different factors," said Burke, citing the team's "embarrassment" in a 44-3 loss a week earlier in Calgary and the return of Buck Pierce as starting quarterback among them.

"Obviously, Buck playing in the game instilled confidence. And then as the game goes along and you feel the offence is in control, then it breeds even more confidence. I mean I was really excited on the sidelines when our offence was out there. Our defensive guys were up and cheering... And I think that just feeds the confidence level for everybody."

While the win only improved the Bombers season record to 3-9 and the playoffs remain a faint possibility, Burke said it is still the kind of game his team can build on. "I'm hoping it instills a lot of confidence," Burke said. "And now we will have to deal with success."

Even Buck stays healthy

  • The team emerged from Friday's contest remarkably healthy. Burke said offensive lineman Glenn January hurt his hand but isn't expected to miss more than one practice next week. Running back Chad Simpson will also be given one practice off to nurse a sore foot that has bothered him all season.

And quarterback Buck Pierce? "He's good, said Burke. "He's banged up a little bit. He took a few hits. But he didn't take any big hits or anything like that. So just the normal bumps and bruises from a game."

The Bombers will not return to the practice field until Tuesday. They play again next Saturday at home against the Toronto Argonauts.

  • Burke said injured offensive tackle Jordan Taormina, who's missed two games with a pinched nerve, will return to practice this week but no decision has been made on whether he will reclaim his starting role from Shannon Boatman, who has filled in for Taormina in his absence.

"It just depends on how well he practises during the week and all that. But Shannon Boatman played a really good game, so we're happy with him." -- Burke and GM Joe Mack discussed earlier this week the prospect of bringing in some new players to challenge for jobs and Burke was asked Saturday if that's still on the agenda with Friday night's victory.

"The guys we are able to bring in, we will still bring in," Burke replied. "There's still guys we want to bring in just because they're talented guys. So we'll see if we can get them to come in or not."

Burke said it's unlikely any new players would be here in time for practice on Tuesday, but offered few other details about who the club is looking at. "Several of them are still waiting to see if the NFL is going to come back on them and all that. We'll wait and see how that goes."

  • Burke was thrilled with the play of middle linebacker Henoc Muamba on Friday evening. Muamba had five tackles on defence, another tackle on special teams, a quarterback sack, knocked down a pass and -- yet again -- forced a fumble.

"It was his best game. He's been progressing, he's been better every week. Now he's taking big steps every week... I think what we saw of him in college is what we're starting to get now. If he keeps going, he can be a really good player in this league," said Burke.

"He was really enthusiastic -- I like that too. He was fired up and he got everyone else fired up. And I think the other thing too, is as we see him progress as a player, we'll see a lot more leadership out of him."

Muamba, who the Bombers selected first overall in the 2011 CFL entry draft, has forced five fumbles this season and Burke was asked what his secret is. "He's a pretty hard hitter, but he looks for the strip as well."

 

Hall of horrors for Ticats

BURKE was also high on the play of defensive end Alex Hall, who recorded five tackles and two sacks to take over the league lead in sacks with eight. "A lot of things you don't see is what he does against the run game. And he was very solid against the run," Burke said of Hall. "Obviously, he's a good pass rusher. He has a lot talent and he played his best game by far of the year."

 

Ball control

THE Bombers offence controlled the ball for a whopping 37:13 on Friday night, which -- for once -- made the job of the Bombers defence much easier. "When the offence controls the ball like that, especially against the wind," said Burke, "that really makes your job a heck of a lot easier."

 

Fine time for Stewart, West

THE Bombers took just six penalties to 17 for the Ticats, but that was still a few too many for Burke, who said he will be fining both defensive back Brandon Stewart and special teams player Dan West for their unnecessary roughness penalties.

West lost his cool on the opening kickoff of the second half, while Stewart got flagged later in the second half when he punched Ticats receiver Sam Giguere, with whom he'd been having a running battle all game.

"Obviously, it's not good enough... And he knew he was wrong," Burke said of Stewart's penalty. "Those kinds of penalties are selfish... And that's not going to happen anymore because we have enough DBs that we can sit him on the bench if he keeps doing it."

paul.wiecek@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 23, 2012 B2

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