Blue Bomber Report Record: 7–11–0

Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

There is no 'I' in Goltz

New No. 1 QB a model of humility on a team trying to find its way

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It would make a helluva story if we could report the obvious and visible changes in Justin Goltz over the last couple of days of practice.

Something along the lines of his spirals being tighter and his reads quicker, that not one pass attempt dropped to the turf incomplete, that he barked out plays in the huddle like a five-star general and stuck out his chest like a hall of fame quarterback.

Truth is, the 25-year-old Winnipeg Blue Bombers pivot looked much the same Friday as he did last week when he made his first professional start against the Calgary Stampeders.

In short, he was the very definition of a work in progress.

Oh, there have been some shining moments, like the howitzer strikes that hit targets perfectly in stride. And then, predictably, there were some obvious errors -- like Friday's terrible over-throw of Chris Matthews, all 6-5 of him, that sharply one-hopped off the turf smack into kicker Justin Palardy's mug.

What has changed for Goltz in the last couple of days of practice isn't something that can be easily quantified but is monumental nonetheless: On Thursday, the Bombers named him their starting quarterback "from this point forward."

That's no small deal for a former NCAA Division III star who spent the last couple of years in Winnipeg watching, learning and -- most of all -- waiting. There's no looking over his shoulder now after an interception, no wondering if the next series is his last.

His days as an understudy are over and now he steps into the spotlight.

"Absolutely, this is big for me," Goltz said. "This is an exciting time for me and for this offence. At the same time, there's a lot of responsibility that comes with it.

"It hasn't been the most well-oiled machine, so there's a lot of stuff that has to be worked out in the process. It's not going to change with just one person; it's a collective effort."

Most of Goltz's answers sound like that. He's quick to make sure he puts team first.

He tends to speak in the second person rather than begin every sentence with "I." He's big on humility, but there's also a quiet confidence evident in every response.

When he's asked about the big-picture situation he now finds himself in -- the next QB candidate trying to lead this offence out of the wilderness and maybe one day authoring the end to a long Grey Cup drought -- he straight-arms the question to the ground.

His big picture is Monday in Vancouver against the B.C. Lions. Anything after that qualifies as a daydreaming.

"That's the biggest thing I feel I have to take into this week," he said. "I have control of the things that I can control and let everything else dissipate and not really pay attention to it.

"When I look at my game last week, there were some highs and lows... some stuff I could have done better and some stuff that was successful.

"Here's what I can control: building on the successful stuff and learn from the stuff that didn't go as well as planned. I wasn't fully satisfied with the way I played, but at the same time, I wasn't disappointed either.

"Some of those other young guys came out last week and did a great job, but they're playing for teams and offences that are established and are doing great. We're in a situation where we're trying to find ourselves, both as an offence and a team.

"There's stuff to work out."

Still, time is relative in pro football and just as open-ended, with head coach Tim Burke declaring Goltz would be The Man "from this point forward."

So while Goltz is trying to live in the moment, he is mature enough and aware enough to know there has to be progress. There must be wins and they have to come sooner, not later.

Maybe that understanding, in itself, represents the biggest growth in Goltz since being handed the keys this week.

"You see a guy out there, another quarterback, doing some good things and you think, 'Yeah, I could do that,' " Goltz said.

"The past couple of years has just been about patience and trying to soak in as much as I can. There's times when it's been tough and it could have been disappointing.

"But it's all worth it as I stand here today as the starting quarterback of this football team." Twitter: @WFPEdTait

bomber game day c4-5

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 3, 2013 C1

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