‘Ask them’: Ticats HC Orlondo Steinauer enjoying QB competition, but won’t ‘foresee’ how it will end

Photo courtesy: Hamilton Tiger-Cats

Training camp is less than a week in and Hamilton Tiger-Cats head coach Orlondo Steinauer is already used to the questions about his team’s quarterback situation. He just doesn’t feel like he should be the one answering them.

The second-year head coach has declared it an open competition between incumbent starter Jeremiah Masoli and his 2019 backup Dane Evans, one where money won’t be a factor in the decision-making. Still, there are some who question how open the job really is and Steinauer has some advice for those individuals.

“I see what nobody else sees on the outside. Everybody is going to form their opinions about who has the upper hand and ‘you know who they’re going to start.’ Well, ask them,” Steinauer insisted Wednesday.

“That’s what I would say. If you don’t believe me, then ask them.”

The simple message: those two players will be the ones to determine the outcome, not the CFL’s reigning Coach of the Year. Both bring strong resumes to the table.

Masoli led the Ticats to a 5-1 record to start the 2019 season before suffering a torn ACL against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in August. He completed 125-of-175 pass attempts for 1,576 yards, nine touchdowns, and seven interceptions in those games, also rushing for 79 yards and four scores.

Evans took over as the starter for the next eleven games, posting a 9-2 record and helping Hamilton lock-up the No. 1 spot in the East Division. He completed 298-of-413 pass attempts for 3,754 yards, 21 touchdowns, and 13 interceptions on the way to a Grey Cup loss.

Steinauer already sees the veteran savvy shining through for both players, even if the coaches sometimes have to rein them in for the benefit of the team.

“It’s been fun. I’ve seen two guys that are experienced, that know the offence already, that are ahead of the receivers in their reads,” he said.

“[Offensive coordinator] Tommy [Condell] has done a great job. He really could take off with these guys but he’s done a great job of bringing everybody along at a pace that they can handle.”

Even more importantly, one quarterback isn’t out-pacing another in terms of support in the locker room and both are being leaned on for leadership.

“There is a really great competition going on and what is really cool is you see the football team supporting both of them,” Steinauer stressed. “That’s special.”

The head coach knows that a decision will need to be made sooner or later, but he won’t place any definitive timeline on that choice. He’s comfortable either way and knows full-well the abundance of riches at his disposal.

“I cannot tell you how I foresee it playing out, but I do know this. We have two great quarterbacks and I hope to be in this situation every year that I’m a head football coach,” he smiled.

“It beats the alternative, I’ll tell you that.”

On that point, Ticats fans will agree whole-heartedly.

J.C. Abbott is a University of British Columbia graduate and high school football coach. He covers the CFL, B.C. Lions, CFL Draft and the three-down league's Global initiative.