Tate set to start against Roughriders
By IAN BUSBY, QMI Agency
|Stampeders quarterback Drew Tate throws against the Argonauts at the Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ont., Oct. 14, 2011. (FRED THORNHILL/QMI Agency)
CALGARY - No matter what happens Friday night at McMahon Stadium, nothing could be worse than Drew Tate’s first college start.
In 2004, the Iowa sophomore was so fired up to play quarterback, he forget to take water breaks.
By halftime, he was dehydrated, and that was the end of his college debut as a starter.
“Every muscle in my body locked up,” the new Calgary Stampeders starting quarterback said. “I cramped up so bad, I fell right on my face.
“My whole dream growing up was to be a college quarterback. That first day, you could have stabbed me in the neck and I wasn’t going anywhere. I was going to play that game.”
But he didn’t finish. Luckily for Tate, Iowa managed to beat Kent State, and he finished out that season as the first-team all-Big Ten quarterback.
Seven years later, heading into his first pro start against the Saskatchewan Roughriders, Tate is much more prepared.
Despite all that’s on the line in replacing seven-year Stamps starter Henry Burris, he’s still relaxed and ready to play exactly the same way he has during his entire tenure with the Stampeders.
“I’ve been sitting in a cage now for a while,” said the 27-year-old. “I’m going to come out flying.
“We have a great team. There is no reason for me trying to do things outside of our system. We have a good team, and if we stay within the system, put the ball in the playmakers’ hands and execute — that’s it.
“I don’t need to win the game on certain throws. It’s a four-quarter game. I just have to get the ball to our playmakers.”
The Stamps scooped up Tate in 2009 for what looked like a minor move at the time. After two seasons on the Roughriders practice roster, Tate was let go and needed a new home.
He quickly rose on the depth chart to be the backup to Burris, and in every chance he’s had to play, Tate has performed well.
He is just one of many former Riders pivots who are now elsewhere in the league — Dalton Bell, Steven Jyles, Kerry Joseph, Kevin Glenn and Burris — but he didn’t leave much of an impression in Regina, even with former teammates. Linebacker Mike McCullough mostly remembers how Tate objected to the rookie initiation. James Patrick does recall picking off some Tate passes in practice, but the all-Canadian safety did that with everybody the Riders had as fourth-stringers.
In 135 career passes with the Stamps, Tate hasn’t thrown one to the opposition.
“He’s probably going to avoid throwing us the ball, too,” Patrick said. “He probably wants to make a point to Saskatchewan as to why they released him.
“Based on film study, the times he’s in the games and back when he was with us, I know him a little bit. He’s not going to change anything based on playing us. We need to rattle him.”
The thing about Tate that makes him different from Burris is that he doesn’t get rattled and make mistakes — yet.
The only time pressure has really affected him was during pre-season, when the Edmonton Eskimos had two players land on him and dislocate his shoulder.
It took a month for Tate to recover, and this season looked like it would be difficult for him.
It turns out it may be his best, as the starting job is his to lose with three games left in the season.