December 10, 2013 Sections
Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
GUELPH, ONT. -- The question tonight isn't really whether Justin Goltz is ready to be a backup quarterback in the CFL.
Whether Goltz is or isn't ready -- and almost immaterial of whatever he does tonight against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the final pre-season game for both teams -- the Bombers coaching staff has already decided Goltz will be the No. 2 man behind Buck Pierce when the Bombers take to Investors Group Field on June 27 for their regular-season opener against Montreal.
While Goltz doesn't have much CFL game experience (7-for-14, 75 yds, 1 TD) he's still got more than the two other guys vying for the backup job -- CFL rookies Max Hall and Chase Clement.
And the fact head coach Tim Burke is giving Goltz the entire first half to show his stuff tonight, while Hall and Clement will split the second half, tells you everything you need to know about Winnipeg's depth chart at backup QB.
So, that's pretty much settled -- Pierce is No. 1, Goltz is No. 2 and Hall and Clement are battling it out to be the No. 3 guy, with probably the edge to Hall right now.
But what is a far more compelling question than whether Goltz is ready to be Winnipeg's backup is whether Goltz is ready to be Winnipeg's starting QB.
Let's face it -- when your job is to be the first guy to come in off the bench if Pierce gets hurt, simple past performance overwhelmingly suggests it's not a matter of if Goltz will start this season, but when.
So, are you? Are you ready to be a starting QB in the CFL?
"I feel like I am," Goltz said Wednesday, shortly after his team arrived at their hotel in advance of tonight's game at the Ticats' makeshift home for the 2013 season, the University of Guelph's 13,000-seat Alumni Stadium.
"But I also feel like I need to see the field more.
"I absolutely need the reps. There's things you can see on film or see in the boardroom that translate and transpire a lot faster on the field. Or you see it differently on the field.
"But I'm confident in my skill set, I'm confident in my abilities and I'm confident in what I've done on the field so far. So I feel like I can be successful in any scenario."
Members of the Bombers coaching staff hope he's right because Goltz is clearly the next best thing Winnipeg has after Pierce right now.
Whatever fantasies Burke and GM Joe Mack might have harboured about Hall or Clement showing up this spring and instantly becoming bona fide CFL QB material have yet to materialize.
While both have shown promise at times, they've also got a lot to learn before either is ready to step into the all-important No. 2 job in Winnipeg.
And they know it.
"I'm starting to feel comfortable, I'm starting to see the reads," Hall said this week. "I don't want to say I don't want to play because I want to play and I'm hungry to play.
"But it's good to kind of take some time to get some experience and to learn, especially from a guy like Buck. And so that's why I really like the position I'm in -- to have an opportunity to learn from a guy who's been in the league and who's had success..."
"I haven't even really thought about (the depth chart)," said Clement. "I know I've got so much of my game to work on, so that's really all I'm focused on."
Clement was asked if tonight's contest is his last chance to show he can stick in the Canadian game -- or simply the next best chance.
"I think it's a little bit of both," said Clement. "I have a lot of room to grow. This week is a second audition. Where you are in your second game compared to where you were in your first game I think shows how much you've learned and you've grown."
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 20, 2013 D1