Elliott will start for Bombers vs. StampedersPierce fails to get medical clearance
By KIRK PENTON, QMI Agency
|Quarterback Joey Elliott will start for the second straight week for the Blue Bombers this weekend. (Jason Halstead/QMI Agency/Files)
WINNIPEG - Joey Elliott is going to have to buck a trend if he's going to guide the Bombers to their first winning streak in more than a year.
He's going to have to beat man-to-man coverage.
The third-year quarterback on Thursday was revealed as the team's starter for Saturday's game against Calgary because No. 1 gun Buck Pierce still hasn't been medically cleared following a concussion he suffered on Sept. 29. Head coach Tim Burke was expecting Pierce to be cleared, but it appears the doctors are taking the cautious approach — no doubt much to the chagrin of the ultra competitive Pierce.
Elliott, who could be in the process of establishing himself as Winnipeg's quarterback of the future, will go into Saturday's game with a hot hand after throwing for 335 yards and three touchdowns in Winnipeg's 27-22 upset victory over Montreal on Monday.
"It's a good opportunity. I'm glad to be playing in front of my home fans," Elliott said. "I'm glad to get another opportunity. You never know. Buck's our franchise guy, and whenever he's healthy he'll be ready to go."
Burke said four CFL teams, including the Bombers, play primarily man-to-man coverage. The other four play zone coverage. Elliott has excelled against the zone teams this year, but not so much against the man-to-man squads.
The Stamps play more man than zone, so Elliott is going to have to really be on his game if the Bombers (4-10) are going to keep their slim post-season hopes going against the Stamps (8-6).
"You have to be real accurate with the ball," Burke said. "You have to throw it away from the defender. You can't just chuck it down, because those guys are covered.
"So it's a little different way to play the game. This will be a good challenge for Joey, and we'll see if he's getting better as a quarterback against man teams as well."
When the Bombers played the Stampeders four weeks ago, Elliott was yanked in the second quarter after completing five of eight attempts for just 26 yards and one interception. Winnipeg went on to lose 44-3.
"Everybody knows what happened," Elliott said. "They were moving the ball well offensively. They had a great game plan. They were able to move us around a little bit, run the ball, a little play action, get Kevin Glenn on the outside, get him some easy throws.
"That obviously put some pressure on the offence in the first half to try to put points up, and we started pressing a little bit too soon."
It didn't help when Elliott and the offence started the game with three two-and-outs and then a drive that ended with an interception.