All signs point to Bo Levi Mitchell being Calgary’s starter Friday against the Edmonton Eskimos although the best term to describe the Stampeders quarterback situation this season is fluid.
Head coach and general manager John Hufnagel indicated the order of selection on his quarterback depth chart is Mitchell, Drew Tate and Kevin Glenn. But he cautioned that could change prior to the Labour Day rematch in Edmonton.
“If we had to play today, Bo would be No. 1, Drew would be No. 2 and Kevin would be No. 3,” Hufnagel said Wednesday.
Glenn started but Mitchell finished Monday’s 37-34 win over Edmonton at McMahon Stadium. Calgary led 37-7 in the fourth quarter before Edmonton rallied to score 27 straight points and make a game of it.
Mitchell completed 11-of-18 passes for 225 yards and two touchdowns in relief of Glenn, who left in the second quarter with a bruised knee.
It appears the 23-year-old Mitchell, Calgary’s No. 3 quarterback in training camp, will get the ball again. With Tate and Glenn moving in and out of the lineup this season, Mitchell is getting plenty of work for a third-string player.
“It’s another chance for me to get out there and get some more experience, get out there and play some games with the guys and try and get another win,” Mitchell said. “You’re playing the same team, but it’s a completely different game.
“You’re definitely not going to prepare the exact seem. You’re going to change some things up.”
Tate began the season as the incumbent but has struggled with an injury to his right throwing arm. The 28-year-old hasn’t played since the fourth quarter of a July 5 loss to Saskatchewan.
Glenn, 34, has started six games in Tate’s absence but hasn’t finished three of them due to injuries.
Mitchell started and went the distance in Calgary’s 37-24 win over Winnipeg on July 26, throwing for 376 passing yards and three TDs. He has completed 51-of-72 passes (70.8 per cent) with nine touchdowns and no interceptions.
The Eastern Washington product was slow off the bench Monday. Calgary recovered its own second-half kickoff and was primed to score from the seven-yard line when a Mitchell pass intended for Maurice Price was knocked down and nearly intercepted by Joe Burnett.
The Stampeders settled for a field goal. Mitchell did throw two short TD passes to Price later in the second half, which proved to be important given Edmonton’s late surge.
The explosive Price had three touchdown catches and was named the CFL’s offensive player of the week Wednesday.
If Mitchell starts Friday, Hufnagel wants a more polished performance.
“Just to take care of the football, manage the game and do the things we want our quarterback to do,” Hufnagel said. “Get the ball to our playmakers.
“There were some mistakes that occurred at the quarterback position when he was in the game that I would like to see not be repeated.”
Glenn wasn’t ruling himself out of Friday’s game but that prospect seemed unlikely two days out.
“I came out and practised and was still a little sore, so right now we’ll go day by day,” he said. “You have to be completely healthy because they have a good front four.
“In this league, you’ve got to be able as a quarterback to sometimes get away from the rush and defensive guys. You want to make sure you’re 100 per cent to go out there and play.”
Tate was expected to return for an Aug. 9 game against Saskatchewan but had a setback to start that week.
“I’m ready to go in and play if I have to play,” Tate said. “I’m still not to the point where I’d like to be, but I’m at the point where I believe that if I do go, I’ll have confidence in my arm to get first downs.”
A solid 7-2 record has helped make Calgary’s quarterback carousel seem less dramatic and more the accepted norm.
The atmosphere in Calgary is in stark contrast to Edmonton (1-8), which has lost five straight by five points or less and hasn’t won at home this season.
Quarterback Mike Reilly was sacked seven times Monday, with Calgary defensive lineman Charleston Hughes accounting for three of them and claiming defensive player-of-the-week honours.
Although Reilly got up after every hit, Edmonton can’t afford to have its starter take a beating, especially with such a quick turnaround for a game the Eskimos desperately need to win.
Eskimos GM Ed Hervey publicly lambasted his team Tuesday. He singled out Alberta-born offensive lineman Simeon Rottier by stating, “It wouldn’t bother me if he didn’t play another down this year.”
The state of the Edmonton franchise makes Calgary’s seem serene by comparison even with the somewhat unsettled quarterback situation. While there’s limited sympathy for the opposition, Hervey’s comments raised Price’s eyebrows.
“I saw it for myself on TV,” Price said. “I don’t agree with how he did that, especially singling out the one player out like that by name.
“He shouldn’t do it. It doesn’t make anything better by doing that.”