Starting QB, or not to be

TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 8:17 AM ET

QB or not QB. That is the question.

Times two. Call it QBII.

Whatever you call it, welcome, Danny Maciocia, to Wally's world.

Welcome to the great debate of Casey Printers vs. Dave Dickenson and head coach Wally Buono with a brand-new cast. The part of Printers is being played by Jason Maas. The part of Dickenson is being played by Ricky Ray. And the part of Buono is being played by Maciocia.

Yesterday, two dozen media men stood for 20 minutes in front of the side-by-side lockers of Maas and Ray, waiting for the first to show up in the dressing room.

There are all sorts of other stories in the naked dressing room as Maas and kicker Sean Fleming brought the Eskimos back alive, but this was the scoop du jour.

Who will Maciocia name as his starting quarterback to take to the Western final Sunday in Vancouver?

No scoop this day.

On the phone in the morning, Buono said he's had enough of it. He said he will name his starting quarterback for Sunday's Western final as early as today.

"We're not going to have a controversy. I'm going to name the starter before practice. Everyone will know. We'll make that announcement before we go on the field."

Ray said yesterday that's what he'd like Maciocia to do to. "I'd like to know before we started practising (tomorrow)."

Ray feels he'll get the start despite his struggles.

"That's what I'd expect. And, yeah, I'd like to be the guy out there."

Maciocia says Ray might get his wish to start but no way will he find out when he wants to find out.

"We're going to practice this week so they'll be both ready to go. I'm not announcing a starter until we're ready to play. Honestly, right now, I don't know."

Maas says, whatever the coach decides.

You can make the debate as simple as the editorial stance of this column -- which to use a hockey analogy, is to go with the hot goalie in the playoffs. Maas is hot. Ray is not.

TREMENDOUS POTENTIAL

But despite growing up in Montreal, Maciocia doesn't think like a hockey guy. And admittedly, there is more to think about than that. There is also tremendous potential here to out-think yourself.

Maciocia did come to the dressing room yesterday prepared to chew on what's involved in making the decision he won't make until the latest possible hour.

"Ricky Ray is 5-2 against the B.C. Lions. He's thrown 21 touchdown passes. Jason Maas is 9-7 against B.C. He's thrown 21 touchdown passes," Maciocia said.

Ray had three good games against the Lions this year and won his last two. On the other hand, the one he lost was in B.C. Place. The only quarterback who beat the Lions in B.C. Place last year was Jason Maas.

In the media scrum I asked about the thought process that might be involved in starting the starter (Ray) and going to the bullpen for Maas if Ray once again didn't get it done. The team would get a spark and a lift seeing Maas head for the huddle.

How would it work the other way around? If you had to give Maas the hook, then you'd be going to the guy who has never relieved and might not jack the team up due to being in pretty much the same head space right now as kicker Sean Fleming was in mid-season.

"That's a great question," said Maciocia.

"Who would be better coming off the bench?"

If it was a great question, maybe in there somewhere is the answer. There's also the fact that, as is the case with Dickenson in Vancouver, Ray is the Eskimo quarterback of the future. Casey Printers and Jason Maas are probably both going to play elsewhere next year.

"If it means getting to the Grey Cup, I'm not going to concern myself with which one is going to be leaving and which one is going to be staying," says Maciocia.

MORE FORTUNATE

"All I care about is winning a football game," said Maciocia, who does concede he's a more fortunate coach than Buono when it comes to this sort of stuff.

"It's so much easier when you have guys like Ricky Ray and Jason Maas, who get along like they do."

Buono isn't going to participate in the Edmonton debate.

"I ain't saying one or the other," laughed Buono of who he expects to start. "No help from me."

Just nice, he suggests, to see somebody else dealing with the QB or not QB debate.


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