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This article was published 12/8/2013 (1019 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
For the second time this season, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers are going to hand the ball to a first-time starting quarterback.
Max Hall will be at the controls when the Bombers meet the Hamilton Tiger-Cats at Investors Group Field Friday night.
That news leaked out late Sunday night and was confirmed Monday when Hall took most of the first-team reps at practice on the grounds of the University of Manitoba.
"I have a great opportunity and I want to take advantage of it and play the best I can to help get this team a win," Hall, the 27-year-old from Arizona said after practice.
Winnipeg started veteran Buck Pierce in its first four games this season. He took a hellacious blow to the mid-section in that fourth game and yielded to Justin Goltz. Between Games 5 and 6 of the season, the Bombers declared Goltz their new starter, but at 1-5 after last week's 27-20 loss at B.C. and Pierce and Goltz a combined 109 for 185 passes this season, GM Joe Mack walked the plank and Goltz has been relegated to a backup role.
Asked if he had seen any indications his promotion was coming, Hall said he didn't.
"No one really knew what was going to happen going into the bye week," he said. "Like I said, this is the decision they made and I'm going to do my best to fulfill the role of the leader on the offence and get a win."
Hall is untested in the CFL, having played just parts of two exhibition games in June and never taking a regular-season snap.
But he has some experience, one factor a lot of folks seem to forget.
Hall was the starter for the NFL's Arizona Cardinals in three games in 2010 and appeared in a total of six games.
The Brigham Young product was 39 of 78 for 370 yards and one touchdown in those games.
Hall repeated Monday it has taken him some time to get a feel for the different CFL game.
"I feel prepared," he said. "I will say it took me a while to get used to the CFL game but I feel comfortable. I feel ready and I feel confident."
Hall knows very well how the Bombers offence has struggled this season but said Monday he wants a chance to make a difference and believes he has some tools to offer.
"Obviously they see something in me," he said. "I think I get the ball out on time. I think I'm accurate. I think I move around in the pocket well enough to avoid pressure. So I'm going to do everything I can, meeting with the guys, getting on the same page, working on stuff afterwards to make sure the little things we're missing we can correct and we can make the plays we're missing in the games right now."
Head coach Tim Burke was grilled Monday about the decision on Hall.
He said the choice was left to the offensive coaches and co-ordinator Gary Crowton.
"One of the things we wanted to make sure of was that we weren't mandating to the offensive coaches who was going to play at quarterback," Burke said. "This was totally the decision of the offensive staff. Gary and the coaching staff on offence unanimously and passionately chose Max to be the quarterback.
"There was no pressure from anybody to make that decision."
Burke wouldn't comment on whether it was Mack's call to promote Goltz two weeks ago, instead turning to this week's decision.
"Let's just say that the offensive staff feels like it gives us a better chance to win this week," he said. "I stated my opinion, what I thought, but I'm not going to handcuff them. That's not my job. My job is to facilitate them.
"I do know our offensive scheme. I do know the plays, the quarterback reads and all that. I think the reason our offensive staff felt like Max was the guy was that he processed the reads faster and has a quicker release. They feel he'll make decisions quicker."