Even with Eric Dzwilewski back healthy, there was no question that Andrew Buckley will be the starter for the Calgary Dinos in the Vanier Cup game.
Dzwilewski got the green light from the Dinos doctors this week to return after missing almost the entire season with a foot injury.
After the 2012 West Conference most valuable player was injured in the third quarter of the opening game of the campaign against the University of British Columbia, it was Buckley that led the Dinos to their first undefeated season and got them to the Canadian Interuniversity Sport championship game.
The No. 3 Dinos face the No. 2 Laval Rouge et Or for the Vanier Cup on Saturday at what is sure to be a packed Telus Stadium.
“It’s not a dilemma, it just gives us an option,” coach Blake Nill said Thursday. “Andrew’s going to start.
“He’s played and done everything we’ve asked from him. Right now, there’s no question in my mind who we’re going with on Saturday.”
The question is whether Dzwilewski will dress for the game. If he does, he will use up his fourth year of eligibility to play university football. A player’s fourth year is also when he’s eligible for the CFL draft.
Another question is whether Dzwilewski, a Boise, Idaho native, will stay at Calgary or transfer elsewhere, as it seems he has lost the starting the job to Buckley, who plans to play at least one more season.
Dzwilewski made the trip with the team, but Nill said he will decide probably before Friday whether he will play.
“Here’s the dilemma we face — you have a guy like Dzwilewski who’s conference MVP, has played in the Vanier Cup in Laval (in 2010), and obviously has a very successful record,” he said.
“So he brings something to the table. Then you wonder if you want him to bring that for two more years instead of one more, because if you use him you burn a year. That’s something I’m debating now.”
Four years ago, a strong Dinos squad was pounded 29-2 in a snowstrom at Laval. Dzwilewski replaced Erik Glavic, a victim of repeated drops by his receivers, late in the second half.
He is among only three players still on the team since that game, along with receiver Chris Dobko and linebacker Thomas Spoletini.
Dzwilewski said he’s ready if needed.
“Right now I’m feeling good,” the 21-year-old said. “It’s been a long 11 weeks, but our medical staff has done a great job of getting me prepared for the game.
“The coach has shown great confidence in me by bringing me on the trip. I don’t know the logistics of all that, but if my number’s called, I’ll be out there. If not, that’s the coaches’ decision.”
The 20-year-old Buckley, a Calgary native, completed 62.1 per cent of his passes in conference play this season and kept it up in the playoffs. The Dinos’ attack ran riot in a 44-3 win over No. 1 Western in the Mitchell bowl last Saturday.
Now he may have the starter he replaced as his backup for the championship game.
“I’m going to go out and do my thing,” said Buckley. “If it comes down to it that (Dzwilewski) has to go in, then all the best.
“Right now, we’re just in it to win, so whatever’s best for the team, we’ll do it.”
The Dinos squad includes third-year defensive back Doctor Cassama, who is Swedish of Gambian descent. Asked what moved him to play Canadian football, Cassama said: “Because you can hit people hard and not get in trouble.”
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