Most of the time when Mark Kilam gets multiple media requests on the same day, it’s because the Calgary Stampeders special teams unit he coaches has either played really well or pretty poorly.
Fair or not, that’s just sort of how it goes.
On Tuesday morning, Kilam was called upon to chat with the media because the Stamps had some good and some bad in their Saturday loss to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
It’s the bad that stuck out, though, as the special-teams unit made two mistakes against the Ticats that resulted in long kick-return touchdowns – one off a kickoff, and the other off a missed field-goal.
“It’s never acceptable to give up touchdowns, and it never should be,” Kilam said. “You never want to give up plays and go into a game thinking you’re going to give up plays. At the same time, we were playing to win the game, we had some momentum, we were trying to score before the half … The danger is when you play a guy like (Ticats returner Brandon) Banks — if you miss he can make you pay, and he did.”
A quick rundown of what happened in the first half of Saturday’s game shows that it was a tough one for the Stamps.
Kicker Rene Paredes missed two field-goals, although it’s hard to put much blame on him because windy conditions made kicking the ball incredibly difficult.
The kick-return touchdowns were obviously what stood out, as the Stampeders had opened up a 14-0 lead before Banks and Will Likely had their momentum-turning TDs.
But there was some good, too, from the Stamps’ special teams.
Ka’Deem Carey blocked a punt and returned it for a touchdown, while the Stamps also faked a punt for a first down when Rob Maver found Ante Milanovic-Litre early in the first quarter.
So, no, it wasn’t all bad, but it definitely wasn’t good enough.
“We made some plays, and we did some good things, but obviously when you give up two touchdowns, it’s hard to win games when you’re giving up two (TDs) on special teams,” said Stamps special-teams dynamo Charlie Power. “I thought we came out and knew they were going to be a physical team out there, — they’re a good group. We had the fake to Ante, and Ka’Deem had a nice play to block the punt, but it just seemed like we gave the momentum right back to them.
“It’s cleaning up … on kickoff, our leverage and everything, and then the field goal, I’ll put that one on me. I should have gotten out and had the edge out there. We’ve got to give them faith that we can go out and make those long field-goals, and honestly, Rene usually makes them anyways, so we’ll clean that up and I think we’ll be fine.”
The Stamps have had a few days since Saturday to watch over the tape from the loss to the Ticats. They don’t have a ton of time to fix anything major because the Toronto Argonauts are in town for a Thursday night game at McMahon Stadium (7 p.m., TSN/New Talk 770 CHQR), but it doesn’t sound as if the mistakes that led to the two touchdowns are particularly complicated.
“You’ve got to give (the Ticats) credit — they did a nice job blocking us up,” said Stamps head coach Dave Dickenson. “We had (our own) people on the ground on the kickoff return. They actually knocked each other off, and, you know, Rene is kicking the heck out of the ball, and we are not covering well.
“Mark’s making it a point to, you know, basically to generate a little buzz on our team and take some pride and try to fix it.”
According to Kilam, “fixing it” doesn’t involve reinventing the wheel.
“I mean … I think we want to see improvement, and that starts with individual improvement first,” Kilam added. “Then improving as an individual will improve us as a group. As we’re doing that, we want to make sure we’re playing together as all 12 out there.”