He doesn’t know when; he doesn’t know how much. All Drew Tate knows for sure is that Friday night he gets to play again in a real game,
For the first time since July 7, the Calgary Stampeders’ Texas-born quarterback has been cleared to play in a Canadian Football League game. It was in a Week 2 encounter with the Toronto Argonauts that the 28-year-old Tate fell awkwardly and dislocated his left shoulder. He was told it would require surgery, take 14 to 16 weeks to heal and might cost him his second season as the Stampeders’ No. 1 quarterback.
Tate has been in uniform and relegated to the sidelines during Calgary’s last four games. But Friday against the visiting B.C. Lions, he will get his first taste of action prior to the West Division semi-final set for McMahon Stadium on Nov. 11.
“When I get the call I’ll be ready,” said Tate, who had supplanted veteran Henry Burris at quarterback by the end of the 2011 season. “The way I started off this year – I was okay against Montreal and we scored on our first drive against Toronto – I want to pick it up where I left off. At the same time, I just have to do my job – make first downs and not turn the ball over. The game can be complicated but it’s really that simple.”
While Tate was forced to rest, Kevin Glenn, acquired in the trade that sent Burris to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, took over at quarterback and led the team to nine victories. In their last outing, the Stampeders defeated Burris and the Ticats as Glenn endured a miserable game, throwing four interceptions and fumbling once.
Calgary coach John Hufnagel has been tight lipped as to how he’ll use his two quarterbacks against B.C. and what his plans will be heading into the playoffs. Asked earlier this week if he viewed the last two regular-season games as a chance to show he should be the starter, Tate replied, “I would think so; I would hope so. I need a lot of game time.
“I don’t know when I’ll get the call,” he added, “but I just have to be ready. Don’t look back.”
Looking back, the 2012 season has gone rather well for Calgary. Hobbled by injuries, especially early on to the offensive line, the Stampeders managed to finish second in the West by being decidedly better than the Saskatchewan Roughriders and Edmonton Eskimos. Of late, the Calgary defence has been able to make plays while the offence continues to assert itself by running the ball with top Canadian candidate Jon Cornish.
Tate said he’s also learned from watching Glenn commandeering the offence.
“Kevin’s got a lot of poise,” Tate assessed. “He never gets flustered; he keeps on fighting. Football’s an emotional game and as a quarterback you have to take those emotions out in the huddle. It has to be about clarity and direction. We have a good team. You just have to do your part.”
The Lions will go with Mike Reilly at quarterback for the second game in a row in place of the injured Travis Lulay, the league’s reigning most outstanding player. Reilly completed 19 of 28 passes for 276 yards and a pair of touchdowns in a 20-point romp over Edmonton. The Lions have beaten Calgary in their two previous meetings this season (34-8 and 27-22) and have clinched first place. B.C. will host the West Division final on Nov. 18.