Justin Goltz knows how this game of thrones works. One day a guy is considered the heir apparent, the next he has been shoved aside by a new king in waiting.
So you can understand the frustration of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers quarterback last week when he threw just two passes -- completing both -- in a very limited appearance in the club's pre-season loss to the Toronto Argonauts. All this coming against the recent chatter about Max Hall, the former Arizona Cardinals starter, who is the new QB flavour of the month and gaining momentum to be pencilled in as No. 2 behind Buck Pierce.
That's exactly the kind of stuff that can mess with a dude's mind.
'The past couple of years have given me so much background on the CFL game. Walking onto the field as a veteran now, I've pretty much seen all there is to see in terms of coverages, blitz, protections and whatnot. I feel much more comfortable on the practice field. Now I want to transition that into a game'
"Last week didn't work out the way we wanted it to," said Goltz after practice Monday. "But I thought I made the most out of the few plays I did have. It can be frustrating at times, but sometimes that's your role as a backup.
"You can't get too frustrated or carried away or look too far into it. I've got a great opportunity this week to prove myself and I'm looking forward to it."
That great opportunity for Goltz comes Thursday in Guelph when he'll start for the Bombers and likely play the first half against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the final pre-season tilt for both clubs. It will mark the first significant playing time the 6-5, 210-pound pivot has had since leading Occidental College to an undefeated record as a senior.
For the record, that was five years ago.
Since then, he's had looks with the Detroit Lions and Sacramento Mountain Lions of the UFL before landing in Winnipeg in October 2010. From that day on, he's been soaking up as many of the little nuances of the CFL game as possible.
"It's a night and day difference for me, what I knew then to now," said Goltz. "The past couple of years have given me so much background on the CFL game. Walking onto the field as a veteran now, I've pretty much seen all there is to see in terms of coverages, blitz, protections and whatnot. I feel much more comfortable on the practice field. Now I want to transition that into a game."
Can Goltz take the next step? Is he the heir apparent to Pierce? That might be THE storyline when he steps onto the field in Guelph with a very green lineup.
And so to call it a meaningless pre-season game would be a disservice to how much Goltz has at stake here.
"I want to establish myself as a leader, first and foremost. Lead our offence, get some first downs, get in the end zone," said Goltz. "I don't think we did a good job of establishing our offence last week.
"I just want to be polished. I just want to win football games. I think Buck Pierce has done a great job establishing himself as a leader for this football team. The past couple of years have really come to fruition for me and I'm seeing it on the field. I feel like I've been sharp, I've completed a lot of balls. Now I've got to take it to the next level in this last game of the pre-season and then throughout the regular season.
"Ultimately, your goal is to be the guy one day. If you're the backup, you've got to be working for your promotion. So I come out here every day to improve and if it works itself out that way it works itself out that way. I just want to play."