IF Matthias Goossen felt any flutter of nerves in his gut, 32 hours before his first pro start, the Bombers' youngest offensive lineman gave no sign.
Instead, after the Bombers walked through their game plan on Wednesday, Goossen met the media calm. He answered every question as if it had been written down: Yes, getting a chance to start against the Roughriders tonight is a "great feeling." All he wants to do is try and help the team win, so -- echoing the mantra of head coach Mike O'Shea -- they can go 1-0 this week. No, his family, who are mostly in B.C., aren't going to be able to make it to the game.
'I don't tell him anything he doesn't already know... Once they're playing for you, I don't think they're rookies anymore'
And what about going up against Saskatchewan's hungry defensive line, about looking up at all those leering eyes of the likes of John Chick and Rickey Foley?
"Every D-line in this league is really good," Goossen said. "Everyone is in the pros for a reason. You just gotta treat everybody the same, and prepare for them like they're the best D-line in the league. Every D-line we face is going to be a really stout D-line, it's going to be really good."
Well, ever since the Bombers plucked the Simon Fraser alumnus second overall in this year's CFL draft, ever since they signed him to a contract that same month, this day was coming.
The Bombers like the 6-4 athlete at centre, but tonight he's pegged to go in at right guard, taking over for the injured Patrick Neufeld. The squad feels comfortable with that -- "if we weren't comfortable, we wouldn't have him in," O'Shea said -- and Goossen too feels ready.
"I think I prepare a lot better," Goossen said, of the lessons he's learned in these first pro weeks. "Every week, going through the mindset of playing. For two of the six weeks I had to play, so you go in there ready to play. I guess preparation is the biggest jump from college to the pros, during the whole week. So that's the biggest thing I've had to work on."
On that end, O'Shea said the Bombers have liked what they've seen from Goossen.
"We drafted him second overall for a reason, and he's continued to show why," O'Shea said. "Those qualities of finishing his blocks, his tenaciousness, and he's gotten better at some of the things that we wanted him to work on with regards to his footwork... Every play's a learning experience for him."
At the end of the day, O'Shea nodded, Goossen is a young, tough kid, just 21 years old. He wants it "badly," the coach mused. In that light, the coach doesn't have any special words of advice for this moment.
"Battle," said O'Shea with a shrug. "I don't tell him anything he doesn't already know... Once they're playing for you, I don't think they're rookies anymore. They've got to grow up pretty quick. That's what's expected of them, from coaching staff and teammates."