'Hang Loose' young man

Quarterback Jason Gesser gets another shot to shine for the Calgary Stampeders tonight against the...

Quarterback Jason Gesser gets another shot to shine for the Calgary Stampeders tonight against the Ottawa Renegades. (Calgary Sun/Carlos Amat)

DAN TOTH -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:52 AM ET

Jason Gesser needs to remain true to his Hawaiian roots tonight.

Forget the surfboard and suntan lotion, just remember to 'Hang Loose,' a far cry from the uptight effort he fielded in his first pro start last week in Hamilton.

The first-year Stampeders QB, making his maiden voyage in the pros last Saturday, completed just two of 12 first-half tosses (not counting the pair gobbled up my Ticats defenders) for a grand total of 22 yards passing.

Although Gesser recovered in the final 30 minutes, completing 10 of 12, including three TD passes, Game 2 at the controls against the visiting Ottawa Renegades needs to be a vastly superior performance.

Gesser is confident he can maintain his composure this time around and, more importantly, just relax.

"You always have that urgency and anxiety about playing but I think last week it was different for me because it was the first start in a long time -- my first professional start -- so it was a compilation of things that kind of took its toll on me," admitted the 27-year-old Honolulu native, groomed at Washington State.

"I over-thought a lot of things and over-analyzed a lot of things, so I think it's just (a matter of) pretending you're a starter like at Washington State and keep going like that. Say, 'Hey, I've done this before.' I just have to get back into the feel of things, get back into the rhythm of things and go from there.

"I hope I can get out there and start this game off a lot better than I started the last game off, I can say that much. Not try to be perfect on everything and not mess up. Just go out and play football like I know how to play and go into the game with that mindset. And hopefully if I do that, I'll play like I did in the fourth quarter (against Hamilton)."

Gesser's emergence as the Stamps temporary starter, in lieu of No. 1 pivot Henry Burris who is out with torn ligaments in his thumb, also adds a new dimension for the offence and a fresh headache for defences.

The 5-7 Renegades are wallowing in a four-game losing skid yet remain in the thick of a East Division playoff race. Joe Paopao prefers facing Gesser over Burris, although the head coach has just last week's game film to prepare for the new Stamps QB.

"For us as a team, it is a little bit easier but there's an unknown factor," Paopao said.

"We've seen Jason play in college and last week, after he settled down in the first half, he got going in the second half ... I don't know if it's any easier. He can make plays with his feet, he's a tough kid and will hang in there and take a shot."

And no matter who's calling the shots for Calgary, the 6-6 Stamps are also desperately trying to avoid a repeat performance from two months ago in Ottawa where the Renegades offence ran wild in posting a 33-18 win.

The Stamps defence allowed 'Gades starter Kerry Joseph to post 531 yards net offence.

Calgary head coach Tom Higgins likes to think of the Ottawa debacle of two months ago as a turning point in the team's season.

"Now when we look back on it there's no question you have to experience something like that in order to grow," Higgins said. "It can happen and does happen and when you experience it, you want to see what the reaction is and how people feel about coming back and getting after it and getting the job done and realizing what it takes to get better."


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