Blue Bomber Report Record: 6–6–0

Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Blue's commander-in-chief taking setbacks in stride

Rookie quarterback not losing cool over two-game losing skid

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He's shown a flair for keeping his head while others around him are losing theirs, orchestrating three late fourth-quarter come-from-behind victories in his team's first eight games.

But with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in the midst of their first losing streak of the season, the pressing question at Investors Group Field this week is whether quarterback Drew Willy is as good at managing adversity within a season as he is within a game.

Willy's favourite target -- receiver Clarence Denmark -- says his quarterback this week has been the same man that led the Bombers to fourth-quarter victories over Ottawa, Montreal and Hamilton.

"Drew is always cool," said Denmark, who leads the Bombers in receiving yards this season. "We can be up a couple scores or down a couple scores and you always get the same thing from him. We can look in his eyes and we know that every time he comes into the huddle, he's a leader."

Bombers head coach Mike O'Shea says it's going to take more than back-to-back losses the last two weeks to the Saskatchewan Roughriders and Toronto Argonauts to rattle Willy.

"He's very consistent, in his preparation, in his approach, in his mindset, in his demeanour. He's still that same young quarterback that's committed to improving every week and a teammate that's willing to take ownership of any issues he felt were his. And a teammate that's willing to take some ownership for maybe some issues that weren't his...

"He's a committed professional and I don't think another loss has changed that or made him react differently."

Slotback Nick Moore -- Willy's roommate on the road -- says his roomie's work ethic is serving him well this week as the Bombers look to Friday's home game against the struggling Montreal Alouettes to arrest the current skid.

"That's the type of quarterback you want," said Moore. "Even before those (game-winning) drives, we knew what kind of leader he is. He's the first one in the building and the last one to leave. I'm his roomate on the road and I know how much he's on his iPad and watching film. He's our commander-in-chief. We don't lack confidence because we know we've been here before and we can make the plays we need to win."

To his eternal credit, Willy took full responsibility for the loss to Saskatchewan in which he threw an interception late in the fourth quarter that was returned for the game-winning touchdown.

Perhaps even more impressive was the fact Willy also took responsibility for last week's loss to the Argos, in which the Bombers offence wasn't great, but the final result ultimately turned more on a defence that gave up four passing TDs and 174 yards rushing to the Argos.

Willy says he's not panicking right now because there's no reason to do so.

"We know we're in the games. We just have to make sure we finish them, like we did against Hamilton and Montreal.

"The mood is pretty much still the same. The guys are upbeat and everyone is pretty much doing everything they can on the practice field and meeting room to make sure we get the win this week. The guys have done a great job just staying focused.

"You never know what's going to happen, but obviously in the West (division), you have to win as many games as possible."

paul.wiecek@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @PaulWiecek

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 20, 2014 C4

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