Dobie to use Rams tilt as gauge

PAUL TURENNE

, Last Updated: 8:00 AM ET

Brian Dobie was hoping tonight's exhibition game between his Manitoba Bisons and the University of Regina Rams could clear up some questions he had about who his starting quarterback would be when the Bisons open their season next weekend.

But two of his five pivots, Shane Munson and Jon Hooton, didn't make the trip to Regina, not because of what they've done on the practice field but because of administrative reasons, which has reminded Dobie that sometimes the "student" part of "student athlete" can't be ignored.

"We're leaving a handful of starters at home for various reasons," said Dobie. "It can be anything from unpaid summer school tuition to unpaid parking tickets to overdue library books to not registering for courses to not filling in all their forms."

Dobie would not disclose the specific reasons for Munson and Hooton's absence from the Regina game, but said it certainly doesn't make picking the starter any easier.

"It throws a whole bunch of cement into the already muddied waters," he said.

Hooton started six games for the Herd last year, while Munson, one of the team's all-time best quarterbacks, has returned for a final season after nearly two years off.

Longtime Bison Tim Clausen and new standout recruit John Makie are also vying for the starting job, as is Ryan Zahara, who finished last season as the starter and will get the call in Regina tonight.

"They're all competing," said Dobie, who acknowledged that although evaluations are based on practices as well as games, tonight's game is the only chance to see his players in game action before the season opens Sept. 3.

Besides the quarterback situation, everything else on the team is fairly set, said Dobie.

Kickers Brendon Bowman and Peter Scouras will both be hoping to impress enough in Regina to win the starting job, and the roles in the secondary -- the team's biggest question mark -- are not totally decided, but most other positions are locked up.

Tonight's game is about more than jockeying for starting jobs though.

"I guess number one we really want to see where we are. Not just who we have but where they're at," said Dobie.

Two new recruits Dobie has been especially happy with are defensive lineman Justin Cooper and receiver Ricky Clarke.

Cooper, who came from the defending Canadian junior champion Edmonton Huskies, is "shockingly physical," said Dobie.

"He's put two of our offensive linemen out, one for a week and one for a day."

"Ricky has just got great bursts and great jump," said Dobie. "Where Ricky's at right now it's not a physical thing. He looks very good. He's just coming into a system that's pretty complex on both sides of the ball, but he's coming along."

Clarke, a Toronto native, has been touted as one of the fastest young players in the country and is looking forward to his first CIS action tonight.

"Usually before every game I get nervous but once I step on the field all that goes away and it's just business," he said. "If my number gets called and that ball comes to me, I expect myself to catch it every time."


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