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Tate's wheels earn him starting assignment

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CALGARY -- Drew Tate's athleticism and ability to extend plays under pressure were factors in John Hufnagel's decision to name him Calgary's starting quarterback for the CFL's West Division semifinal.

Tate, who was sidelined for 14 games this season with a dislocated shoulder and subsequent surgery, will get the ball Sunday against the Saskatchewan Roughriders. The winner advances to the West final Nov. 18 against the B.C. Lions.

"It means a lot," Tate said Tuesday at McMahon Stadium. "For him to pretty much put the rest of the season into my hands, and I haven't been on the field as much, it does mean a lot to me, honestly. With that, it's a lot of responsibility and it's a challenge.

"I'm accepting it and I'm going to do the best I possibly can for this team."

Hufnagel, Calgary's coach and general manager, ended speculation whether it would be Tate or Kevin Glenn taking first snaps Sunday with his announcement.

Glenn was the starting quarterback in nine Calgary wins during Tate's absence. The Stampeders finished second in the division and the league with a 12-6 record.

"It's not that Kevin isn't athletic. It's just Drew is a little bit more," Hufnagel told a throng of reporters.

"He has the ability to extend plays. He's done that in the games he has played. He showed that up in Edmonton. That's one of the things that is part of his game that he brings to the table."

Tate returned earlier than expected from his injury to play parts of the final two games of the regular season. Both were wins for Calgary.

The 28-year-old from Baytown, Texas, scrambled out of trouble to make a play more than once in the first half of Friday's finale against the Edmonton Eskimos.

Tate came out with Calgary up 20-17 at halftime. Glenn played the second half of the game, which the Stampeders won 30-27. Tate and Glenn rotated series in Tate's first game back Oct. 26, a 41-21 win over B.C.

"Drew came out of those two games showing that his shoulder is completely healthy, he is throwing the ball accurately, he is seeing the field well," Hufnagel explained.

"With his athletic ability to be able to extend some plays and the fact that the games he started and played at least a half of football, he has a pretty good winning percentage... you take all those things into account and I decided gut feeling to go with Drew. It's not an easy decision."

Glenn, 33, threw for 4,220 yards and 25 touchdowns this season.

"I'm a team guy," Glenn said to reporters. "Drew is going to get the start and I'm going to help any way I can.

"I don't want to give you guys the wrong adjective to run with. It's tough. I want to play and I wouldn't be here right now if I didn't want to play.

"When I get my chance to play I'm going to go in and do what I did at the beginning of the season when he went down with the injury. I went in and did my part as the backup of going in and putting my team in position of getting into the playoffs and having a home playoff game."

Tate was handed the ball with three games to go last season. He started for Calgary in the West semifinal, which the Stamps lost 33-19 to the Edmonton Eskimos.

Tate completed 5-of-10 passes for 99 yards with an interception before he was replaced by Henry Burris in the second half.

Hufnagel nevertheless signed Tate to a three-year contract extension in December, signalling the University of Iowa product would be his No. 1 heading into 2012.

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 7, 2012 C3

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