Calgary Stampeders coach John Hufnagel deft in handling Tate and Glenn
By ERIC FRANCIS, QMI Agency
|Stamps GM/head coach John Hufnagel is offering no hints as to who his playoff quarterback will be. (Al Charest/QMI Agency)
As promising as Drew Tate may be and as good as Kevin Glenn has been, the most impressive quarterback with the Stamps of late has been John Hufnagel.
The former chucker-turned head coach has done a masterful job the last few weeks diffusing what looked sure to be a quarterback controversy into a mere quandary.
There are no heated disputes amongst Calgary Stampeders fans over which pivot should start the West semifinal next Sunday.
Most are comfortable Hufnagel has done the right thing by easing Tate back into the fold slowly and giving both players as many reps as possible heading into tonight’s final regular season game in Edmonton, where Tate gets his first start since the season-opener.
He knows it’s his final chance to demonstrate he’s back to being starting material.
“If I don’t play good, I don’t deserve it, because Kevin has been hot all year and he’s led these guys and they’ve done their job,” said Tate, who had shoulder surgery after Week 2.
“Now, am I going to go out there and press and try to (carry) this team? Hell, no. This team is really, really good, and all I have to do is my job and we’re going to be fine.”
Hufnagel refused to answer whether he had even made up his mind on his playoff starter yet, saying only that he’d reveal his decision Tuesday.
“I don’t think anyone knows what’s in his head and that’s the way he likes it,” said Tate of Hufnagel’s mindset.
“I don’t know and I don’t even worry about it,” added Glenn, when asked if he thought Huf had already seen enough of their stuff.
“How you play will always have an impact on whether or not you are going to play, but, at the same time, I don’t think I have to go out and throw 30 touchdowns (Friday). I just need to go out and do what we’ve been doing. Same with Drew. If we have a game like last week and let everybody play and put points up and win, I think it makes his decision a little tougher, but, at the same time, you want it to be tough.”
It will be, which is why there was no point in announcing anything to this point.
“I don’t think it’s a problem to have depth at any position — why is it a bad thing or controversial?” asked Hufnagel.
“I have confidence both quarterbacks can go out and win football games for us.”
Will Friday’s game influence your decision?
“I will answer that after this game,” he smiled.
Have you made a decision yet?
“Obviously, I’m not going to tell you that answer,” added Hufnagel, who would be a bugger to play poker against.
Starting the season as the clear backup before leading the squad to 10 of their 11 wins, Glenn seems confortable with the decision to start Tate tonight. And that’s largely because Hufnagel has handled this so well all along.
“Those are the tough decisions the coaches have to make, and coach Hufnagel has done a good job of taking the focus off that and just winning games,” said Glenn, 33. “It’s made for a better environment for us to play in, and I think the team has rallied behind it. Whatever decision he makes, Drew and I will be OK with it, because we are both about the team.”
Tate’s numbers last week were solid (5-for-7 for 68 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT), but he felt he wasn’t as sharp as he wanted to be. After all, he hadn’t played since July 8 and had limited reps leading in. This week, he had plenty of prep time.
“If Drew goes out there and plays solid, then why not?” said injured receiver Nik Lewis, suggesting it’s now Tate’s job to lose.
“It’s all about going out there and putting it up. We were very fortunate to have Kevin to be able to go out there and win games and have confidence he can execute gameplans. Everybody loves Drew and everybody loves Kevin, and we know what it is and knew what it was going to be if Drew returned. Either way, there’s no turmoil at all.”
While that could change Tuesday, odds are Hufnagel will continue to do the right thing then, too.