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Monday, September 18, 2017



With injuries, poor play, and articles on future Canadian quarterbacks, it seems like a good time for a quarterback edition of Out of the Tunnel.

We’ll begin in Hamilton where a pair of backups faced off with Brandon Bridge and the Riders grinding out a 27-19 win over Jeremiah Masoli and the Ti-Cats on Friday.

It was a tale of two halves for Bridge in his first start for Saskatchewan in place of the injured Kevin Glenn. The first half was a lights-out performance, going 16/21 for 178 yards and two touchdowns, putting the Green and White up 20-10 at the half.

In the second half the Mississauga, ON product was a very pedestrian 5/10 for 53 yards and one touchdown. Bridge was sacked twice and seven of the eight second half drives were two-and-outs.

In the end, the third year quarterback out of South Alabama did what he had to do for the victory and, with that win, the Riders took over fourth in the West Division and a potential playoff spot.

There are a couple ways to look at this Rider victory:

1) Is this a great team building its way, grinding out road wins that binds a team even more? Or...

2) With injuries piling up and nearly giving up a huge lead to a struggling Hamilton club, is this a harbinger of things to come?

Next week at Mosaic Stadium will answer some of these questions when the Calgary Stampeders come to town to meet the Riders (2:00 pm, TSN, 620 CKRM Rider Radio Network).

CFL Notes (QB Edition):

- Darian Durant’s time in Montreal is starting to turn dark. He saw the bulk of his coaching staff fired last week, and he followed it up going 0/6 and was sacked twice in the Alouettes 29-11 home loss to the Ottawa Redblacks on Sunday. Drew Willy took over in the second quarter and didn’t fare much better.

The Redblacks started backup Drew Tate in place of an injured Trevor Harris but Tate was crushed near the end of the first half and a well-travelled Ryan Lindley took over in his first CFL action.

- A great ground game won the day for the Toronto Argonauts on Saturday in their 34-26 victory over the Edmonton Eskimos. James Wilder ran for 190 yards on just 11 carries and a touchdown for the Double Blue in the victory, while Mike Reilly was solid in the loss with 323 yards and a pair of scores for Edmonton in their fifth straight loss.

- Jonathan Jennings was intercepted three times by a stout Calgary Stampeder defence in the B.C. Lions 27-13 defeat at McMahon Stadium in Calgary on Saturday night. Bo Levi Mitchell didn’t have to do any heavy lifting for this one with a couple of touchdown passes and no interceptions for the Stamps.

- Heading into Week 14, the QB position will dictate the final seven weeks of the season.

Teams with no questions:
Edmonton - Reilly
Calgary - Mitchell
Winnipeg – Nichols
Toronto – Ray

Teams with question marks:
Saskatchewan – Will Kevin Glenn return to the lineup for a huge West Division showdown against Calgary?
Montreal – Is Drew Willy the new starter over Darian Durant?
Hamilton – Looks like Ti-Cats will ride Jeremiah Masoli the rest of the season over Zach Collaros.
Ottawa – Drew Tate and Trevor Harris look like they will be out for a long stint, so hello Ryan Lindley.
B.C. – Jonathan Jennings has not played well since returning from injury and has taken some big hits. Will we see Alex Ross any time soon?

The Canadian QB Debate

 A pair of great articles by’s Chris O’Leary here heated up the conversation about Canadian quarterbacks and the future of homegrown talent at that position. One focused on a current Canadian CFL quarterback in Brandon Bridge and the other on a potential future CFLer, Noah Picton (University of Regina Rams) and the recent history of Canadian quarterbacks.

Sparking these articles is the success of Brandon Bridge and the Stampeders, Andrew Buckley. Bridge became the first Canadian born quarterback to start and win a game in over 30 years (last one to do so was Greg Vavra for Calgary in 1985) and proved that he belongs in the CFL at quarterback. While Buckley has solidified himself as the backup to Bo Levi Mitchell.

The next crop of Canadian quarterbacks is waiting in the wings, but will they get a shot and are they any better than their American brethren?

There are a lot of roadblocks in the way for U-Sports quarterbacks. Mainly is the quality of play in Canada. While it has improved leaps and bounds in the past 20 years, in the eyes of most CFL scouts, it’s only equivalent to mid-level Division Two play in the U.S.

The skill-set is there at the quarterback spot across the country, but the jump from USports to the CFL is an incredible one. It’s not impossible, it just needs time and patience by CFL teams. Both are usually in limited supply. Which is why young Canadians who have the potential at the high school level, are starting to drift to finishing their prep career in the U.S. before heading to either a junior college or the NCAA.

Justin Dunk had it right. There needs to be an influx of QB specific camps and year-round training (very much like goaltending) before quarterbacking in Canada can get to a consistent level. Only then will you begin to see a few more pivots carrying the flag.


Canada West Diary

In the only second half points by either team, Sam Varao recovered an Atlee Simon fumble in the end zone to secure the Regina Rams' (2-1) second win of the season 28-18 over the Alberta Golden Bears (0-3) on Saturday. Noah Picton found seven different Ram receivers in his 334-yard passing effort with Mitch Picton catching both touchdown passes.

Michael O’Connor broke out for the first time this season. He had over 400-yards passing and a pair of scores in the Thunderbirds' 31-10 victory over the Saskatchewan Huskies. What may be more impressive is almost 10,000 fans attended Thunderbird Stadium in Vancouver.

The Calgary Dinos continue to flex their Canada West muscles, going on the road and smashing the Manitoba Bisons 76-17. The Dino defence was front and centre again forcing five Bison turnovers and collecting eight sacks.

This Week:
Saturday, September 23rd:
UBC at Alberta (1:00pm)
Manitoba at Regina (2:00pm)
Saskatchewan at Calgary (4:00pm)


PFC Wrap

The top of the PFC has become a three-horse race. The Edmonton Huskies continue to lead the way with their fifth straight win to begin the season, knocking off their cross-town rival Wildcats 40-7.

Victor St. Pierre Laviolette ran wild over the Winnipeg Rifles on Saturday as the Regina Thunder needed every one of his 214 yards on the ground and two touchdowns for the 29-24 victory. The win upped the Thunder record to 4-1 keeping track with the Saskatoon Hilltops for second in the conference.

The final game of the weekend saw the Hilltops go on the road to Calgary and roll to a 41-9 win.

The top four teams in the PFC will face off against each other this weekend, while the Edmonton Wildcats and Calgary Colts welcome OFC teams to town.

This Week:
Saturday, September 23rd:
Hamilton Hurricanes (OFC) at Edmonton Wildcats (7:00pm)
Sunday, September 24th:
Winnipeg Rifles at Saskatoon Hilltops (1:00pm)
London Beefeaters (OFC) at Calgary Colts (12:00pm)
Regina Thunder at Edmonton Huskies (1:00pm)

Canadian to Watch in the NCAA

Nathan Rourke – QB
Ohio University
6’2” 209lbs.
Hometown – Oakville, Ont.
Class – Soph.

Keeping with the QB edition of Out of the Tunnel, we will focus on Ohio Bobcat, Nathan Rourke. He is one of the examples of QBs heading to the United States to finish high school at a big-time academy. Rourke played high school in Alabama before a conference all-star season at Fort Scott Community College in Kansas.

Rourke is currently in a quarterback rotation with another sophomore, Quinton Maxwell but got the start this past weekend in a 42-30 win over the Kansas Jayhawks.

(By Staff)