REGINA — There were stretches in Sunday’s Labour Day Classic when Justin Goltz looked like the long-term answer to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers’ quarterback woes.
But, in the end — a 48-25 loss to the Saskatchewan Roughriders that extended Winnipeg’s losing streak to seven games — he looked exactly like a Division III graduate making just his third professional start.
Say this about the 26-year-old, however: he sure wasn’t ducking the blame afterward.
"I’m extremely disappointed," said Goltz. "I feel like I put my team at a disadvantage in the second half. We had two young Canadian O-lineman who stepped up and did a hell of a job (an injury to Andre Douglas pushed Paul Swiston from guard to tackle and brought Chris Kowalczuk off the bench).
"We had some receivers who stepped in and did a great job. I thought our defence played with a lot of heart. I put them in a short field twice with two mistakes that I’m not very happy about. I need to learn from it and improve."
Goltz opened the game by completing his first nine passes and by halftime was 12 of 15 for 151 yards. But in the second half he was just six of 14 for 31 yards — with two critical interceptions — although he did twice rush for touchdowns.
'I feel like I let my team down': Goltz
Asked if he thought he was pressing in the second half, Goltz said:
"Absolutely. I thought (offensive coordinator) Marcel Bellefeuille called a helluva game and both situations I had a short, easy throw but I took it upon myself to try and get more and that’s what happens when you force stuff. It comes with making smart decisions.
"I feel like I let my team down. I don’t think there’s any other way to explain it. We were in that football game. We responded to a score and a turnover on a short field changes the game. You can’t turn the ball over in a short field against one of the most consistent offences in the CFL."
Bomber head coach Tim Burke praised Goltz for his leadership in accepting responsibility, but wouldn’t go as far as to declare him the starter in next week’s Banjo Bowl.
"He’s still learning," said Burke. "I admire him for taking the blame. There’s a lot of guys that wouldn’t do that. There’s a lot of really good players in professional football who, when they make a mistake, won’t admit it and I admire him for doing that. He’s got to learn from mistakes.
"The first pick that Justin threw... just throw it away and we’ll punt it and we’re going to get the ball back. We were only behind by six.
"The second pick, he just over-threw it. The adrenaline was probably flowing and he probably really chucked it and just over-threw it.
"We have to sit down and talk about how long can we afford to develop somebody or do we have to play somebody who we think can get us a win right away," Burke added. "Justin may be that guy in both cases. We’ll sit down and talk about it and go from there. He did some good things today, there’s no doubt."