It’s a contentious race fraught with what ifs and who’s better. Romney versus Obama? That’s political football. For the real stuff in these parts, it’s Kevin Glenn vs. Drew Tate and who should lead the Calgary Stampeders into the CFL playoffs.
With the Stampeders to host the Saskatchewan Roughriders in Sunday’s West Division semi-final, Calgary head coach John Hufnagel has a pivotal decision to make: which quarterback gives Calgary the best chance at winning?
Having played the position, Hufnagel understands the need for his starter to have plenty of first-team repetitions in practice. That’s why on Tuesday he’ll select his man. Until then, there’s still time for some last-minute campaigning, beginning with:
VOTE FOR GLENN
When people talk about the league’s top quarterbacks, you never hear them say, “That Kevin Glenn, he ranks up there with Anthony Calvillo or Ricky Ray.” The truth is Glenn isn’t flashy, isn’t overpowering and has never played in a Grey Cup in 11 seasons. (He did quarterback the Winnipeg Blue Bombers to a victory in the 2007 East Division Final but broke his left arm in the process and missed the 95th Grey Cup game.)
That aside, Glenn was the Stampeders’ salvation this season. He took over when Tate suffered a shoulder injury in Week 2 and helped them win 10 games. He did it by following the directions of his offensive co-ordinator Dave Dickenson, who saw Glenn compete a personal-best 66.7 per cent of his throws.
“Kevin’s an accurate passer and a good student,” Dickenson has said of Glenn. “He studies hard and I didn’t know that about him [as a quarterback].”
Glenn, at 33, has endured a lot in his playing days. He’s been a third-stringer and a No. 1.
He’s shared the starter’s role and he’s kept the spot warm for Tate, who was the undisputed leader until his left shoulder unhinged. At this stage in his career, Glenn is all about doing what it takes to win and his experience and poise make him a more reliable choice than the upstart Tate.
Plus, in the three games against Saskatchewan this season Glenn passed for a total of 796 yards and eight touchdowns against one interception. Calgary won twice.
VOTE FOR TATE
When people talk about the league’s top young quarterbacks, you almost always hear, “That Drew Tate, he’s a gamer.” He showed that by wrestling away the starter’s job from Henry Burris last season but he was also benched at halftime in last November’s Western semi-final, his first playoff start. This is a player who remains a work in progress, and yet there’s something undeniable about Tate’s potential.
After missing more than 10 weeks of the season with his injury, he returned to duty and picked up where he’d left off. In his roughly three quarters of playing time, post-injury, he completed 16 of 22 passes for 207 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. In building a 20-3 lead over the Edmonton Eskimos last Friday, Tate even ran for a 13-yard touchdown.
He followed that by getting into a sideline shouting match with Hufnagel – not the wisest move, although it did underline Tate’s passion for playing and wanting to succeed.
“I don’t feel like I’ve played enough,” Tate told reporters after watching Glenn close out the win over Edmonton. “It’s not my call.”
There are no early polls to read but this is how it’s likely to go: Tate starts. He’s had just enough practice and game time for his let’s-get-roaring attitude to work. He’s used his feet well and thrown smartly and that could enable the Stampeders to get an all-important early jump on Saskatchewan. Besides, think of Tate getting the nod over Burris last year. That showed Hufnagel isn’t afraid of making the gutsy, aggressive call, even in the postseason.
As for Glenn, he is ideally suited to coming off the bench and calming things down. If Tate is the fire starter, Glenn is the fireman. He can give his teammates a belief all is not lost then prove it. It’s Hufnagel’s decision to make and he’s got the only vote that counts.