Which QB are Stamps backing?

Calgary Stampeders quarterback Drew Tate throws a pass in the second half of their CFL football...

Calgary Stampeders quarterback Drew Tate throws a pass in the second half of their CFL football game against the Toronto Argonauts in Toronto October 14, 2011. Tate replaced starting quarterback Henry Burris in the first half of the game. (REUTERS/Fred Thornhill)

IAN BUSBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:56 PM ET

In the aftermath of Friday’s loss in Toronto, the Calgary Stampeders players knew there was a quarterback controversy erupting.

But there weren’t really ringing endorsements for Henry Burris to keep his starting job.

When asked if he would be surprised to see anyone other than Burris leading the offence, running back Jon Cornish said he couldn’t say.

The easy answer would be to say the decision is up to head coach John Hufnagel and not him.

When asked about Drew Tate, Cornish gave a curious answer about the backup, who came in and threw for 263 yards and two touchdowns in relief during the 31-29 CFL loss.

“Oh, Drew Tate’s always been the guy,” Cornish said. “I mean, he was the guy down at Iowa. “I loved him when he was there. He’s a great player — he has that focus … he has that energy that you need. Having him in is great.”

Considering that Burris has started the past 69 straight games for the Stampeders, calling a backup ‘the man’ is strange indeed.

During the loss Friday, Cornish and Burris had an awkward moment. On what looked like a play-action, Burris was trying to put the ball in Cornish’s hands, but the running back seemed to believe he was just a decoy.

Instead of handing the ball off, Burris turned around and took a sack.

Cornish, who took over for veteran Joffrey Reynolds as the starting running back, isn’t the only one who didn’t defend Burris in the post-game locker-room.

Even veteran receiver Nik Lewis, who arrived before Burris did in 2005 and has been the most productive receiver for the pivot during that time, wasn’t exactly backing the long-time starter.

“I don’t care who the quarterback is,” said Lewis, who played through the flu and caught six passes for 64 yards in Toronto. “I don’t care who lines up with me at receiver. I don’t care who the O-line is. I worry about Nik Lewis and the Calgary Stampeders. They put the people on the field, and I play with them. That’s the bottom line.”

Tate is obviously aware he’s created a situation with his superb play. The 28-year-old from Baytown, Texas, had a 112.0 passer rating this season and provided a spark coming in Friday for Burris.

“This is a quarterback league, and it’s all off the QB,” Tate said. “If I go in and make plays, it’s a spark. If I do badly, then it is what is. The last three weeks we haven’t been explosive. It’s going to come around because (offensive co-ordinator Dave) Dickenson can do different things with different personnel. “I’m not saying I’m going to go out there and light it up, but it’s a different look. A lot of these (opponents), I haven’t played against them so they don’t know my body language either.”

When asked if he believes he will start next Friday against the Saskatchewan Roughriders, Burris pointed to his resume.

He mentioned he’s the reigning most outstanding player of the league and that he will be ready when called upon again.

At age 36, he’s smart enough to realize this could be the time he gets benched due to performance for the first time in his tenure with the Stamps.

“I’ve had great games, I’ve had a couple-of-interception games,” Burris added. “Different circumstance here. Drew got his chance, and he went in there and made things happen.”

ian.busby@sunmedia.ca

On Twitter @ianbusby57


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