Nothing covers up the blemishes on a football team better than a convincing win.
And boy were the Calgary Stampeders convincing on Saturday night.
It’s hard to be critical about anything to do with the Stampeders after a 60-1 stomping of the woeful Hamilton Tiger-Cats on a sunny, hot evening at McMahon Stadium on Saturday night.
The only worry is there might be an issue lingering that will be overlooked by what happened as the Stamps completed the first third of the regular season with a 4-1-1 mark.
When the Stamps went up 39-1 at halftime, it was no surprise that Andrew Buckley came in to replace Bo Levi Mitchell. Here’s the interesting part though: Mitchell didn’t practise this week as he’s nursing an undisclosed injury.
Now the Stamps have to feel good about what Buckley managed to do against the Ticats. Still, it’s not a good sign that Mitchell is ailing at this point in the season.
Mitchell managed to roll into this game, pile up the points and leave with a massive lead, but what happens when they face a team that isn’t struggling mightily?
In 30 minutes of action, Mitchell went 11-of-17 passing for 197 yards and a touchdown strike to Marken Michel, who was seeing every-down action because of an injury to Kamar Jorden.
You would think the Stamps aren’t the same team without Mitchell under centre, but there was no missing a beat against the Ticats.
Buckley came in and played with the authority of a seasoned veteran. He picked apart the Ticats defence, went to the open man every time and scrambled away from pressure with a calm confidence.
As a quarterback, Buckley went 10-of-10 passing for 106 yards and his first CFL touchdown pass, appropriately thrown to fellow University of Calgary Dinos alum Anthony Parker.
Obviously, it must ease any worries the Stamps feel about missing Mitchell for any length of time to see what Buckley did in relief.
But it can’t be overstated that the Ticats simply rolled over and died in Calgary. This is a two-game road trip for Kent Austin’s team and it doesn’t get much better as they stick around Calgary to practice before heading to Edmonton, where another horrible beating seems inevitable.
Another issue for the Stamps is the loss of Jorden, who left with a knee injury after getting rolled into on a rushing play. Jorden is the Stampeders’ leading receiver this season as he’s breaking out in a big way.
Michel certainly took advantage of that opportunity, piling up 197 yards from scrimmage and making one of those highlight-reel grabs in the end zone after getting close to pay dirt on two other big plays.
There was no shortage of positives for the Stamps in this one.
Roy Finch’s punt-return touchdown set the tone in the first half, as the pint-sized specialist darted through defenders and turned on the jets to score.
The Stamps defence was all over the quarterbacks again, and a pick-six from Shaquille Richardson gave them more points than they allowed. In two home games following a loss in Montreal, the Stamps allowed just one touchdown and were creating constant havoc.
During that stretch, the run game turned things around as well thanks to a clear focus on getting Jerome Messam going. He delivered on Saturday night, hitting the holes with authority.
Offensive lineman Spencer Wilson managed to catch a two-point convert reception, Buckley had a reception on his own pass that was batted back to him, and kicker Rene Paredes drew a pass interference call on a broken field-goal attempt.
It was a weird night overall, but now the Stamps have to forget about that and refocus.
They head into Toronto for a meeting with a stung Argonauts team that will be looking to get back on track after losing in Regina.
Then it’s the bye week, which might be a good time for the Stamps to heal up and get energized for the middle third of their schedule.