CFL

Stamps will be better off in long run growing with young QBs

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Ben Fisher, TSN.ca
6/18/2014 6:54:49 PM
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It's sink or swim time in Calgary for the quarterbacks but it looks like the Stampeders have some aquanauts.

With Kevin Glenn now in BC by way of Ottawa, the Stampeders' young and promising quarterbacks have lost their safety net, and that may be a good thing.

While Glenn was the always steady veteran presence, and advanced the team as far as the Grey Cup as recently as 2012, there have been, and remain, reservations if he could ever win the big one.

If one of either Drew Tate or Bo Levi Mitchell can make good on the considerable promise they've shown early in their careers, they could do wonders leading an already talented roster.

Tate began last year in the starter's role but after injury struck the team turned to Glenn. Neither he nor Mitchell – who impressed in limited action when both Tate and Glenn were injured – could regain the role from a healthy Glenn late in the season. This isn't to say that Glenn wasn't an effective quarterback for the Stampeders, or that he didn't get the job done, but for a talented team seemingly on the edge of Grey Cup glory, a better option could emerge.

Tate's edge in experience, and more importantly experience in the system, may give him the first snap in training camp. The 29-year-old has 381 career pass attempts (a weekend for predecessor Henry Burris) in five seasons with the team.

In that relatively small sample size however, the Iowa product has put up very encouraging numbers. The main knock on him at this point is his seemingly inability to stay healthy.

In the past two seasons, both of which Tate entered atop the Stampeders' QB depth chart, he has missed more games than he's played. It was an arm injury last year after suffering through shoulder woes the year previous.

Mitchell's future is even harder to prognosticate, but the small sample size he's produced has looked even more promising than Tate's work.

Through injuries, Mitchell gained 135 passing attempts last season, finishing with 1,156 yards, 10 touchdowns to just three interceptions, and a near 70 per cent completion rate.

Five years Tate's junior, Mitchell is one of the truly promising young players in the league and what he lacks in experience and veteran know-how, he makes up for with potential in spades. Potential as in, he's a potential 15-year starter and future star.

Whoever leads Calgary's offence out of the huddle on Week 1 won't have to go it alone, with former Most Outstanding Player Jon Cornish taking on a considerable load from his running back position.

Cornish led the league in touchdowns and rushing yards last season and for the second straight year broke the record for most ground yards by a Canadian, making his case as one of the best homegrown talents in league history.

Defences crowding the box to contain Cornish is music to a young quarterback's ears.

There could be some growing pains with Tate or Mitchell, but unlike in previous years when the coaching staff may have felt compelled to go to Glenn at the first sign of trouble, this year they may allow them to work through their struggles and come out the other end a better player, perhaps around playoff time.

Notes

Dave Dickenson Re-signs With four coaching openings this off-season, Stampeders offensive coordinator Dave Dickenson was sure to be a hot candidate. John Hufnagel's protégé politely declined all inquiries however and signed an extension with the Stamps that included the added title of assistant head coach. Dickenson is a good bet to take over for Hufnagel as head coach one day.

Adrian McPherson It looked for a while like the Stampeders' two horse race for the starting quarterback role was going to be a three horse race. Calgary signed Adrian McPherson, the talented, long-term quarterback of the future behind Anthony Calvillo in Montreal before playing last year in the Arena Football League. McPherson suffered a serious injury in the Arena League last season however, and after his recovery wasn't where Calgary was hoping for, the QB retired. The door however, is not fully closed and the situation may bear watching later in the year.

Expansion Draft It appeared a foregone conclusion that the Stampeders would lose Kevin Glenn in the first round of the expansion draft, clearly the headline pick for Ottawa. The team also lost starting offensive guard J'Michael Deane and proven Canadian safety Eric Fraser.

Dimitri Tsoumpas Retires The Stampeders knew they'd be without Dimitri Tsoumpas for much of the 2013 season when he suffered a concussion last year; they were saddened to hear the concussion would lead to Tsoumpas' retirement. Calgary will have its hands full replacing the three-time CFL All-Star who accepted a strength and conditioning assistant role with the team upon his retirement.

Free Agency Calgary did very little venturing into the open market, doing little outside of nabbing a backup to Jon Cornish at running back in Jock Sanders. The team did keep a number of their pending free agents however, including DL Demonte Bolden and Randy Chevrier, receiver Maurice Price, and LB Juwan Simpson.

CFL Draft The Stampeders traded veteran offensive lineman John Gott to the Redblacks to move up to first overall in the draft, nabbing offensive lineman Pierre Lavertu. Lavertu, who can play both centre and guard, will be needed to help fill in for two interior lineman now in Ottawa in Gott and Deane. Calgary's other selections included Concordia DL Quinn Smith, also in the first round; Concordia LB Max Caron in the second round; McGill OL Laurent Duvernay-Tardiff, Laval DB Adam Thibault, and Western OL Joe Circelli in the third round, Duvernay-Tardiff likely not to be available north of the border for at least a couple years; Queen's DL Derek Wiggan in the fourth round; McMaster K Tyler Crapigna in the fifth round; and Western WR Brian Marshall in the seventh round.

Drew Tate  (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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