Tiger-Cats starting quarterback decision will express itself ‘organically’

Photo courtesy: Bob Butrym

The Hamilton Tiger-Cats starting quarterback will be revealed through a natural progression.

Head coach Orlondo Steinauer and offensive coordinator Tommy Condell are using their training camp plan for Jeremiah Masoli and Dane Evans to compete with equal opportunity. Age, contract dollars or any other outside factor won’t be included in the final call.

“It just expresses itself, as it grows and as you have the amount of data that comes on in — it organically shows,” Condell said.

“We didn’t go with any preconceived notion unless somebody did separate themselves. I see it as a healthy competition,” Steinauer said.

After one full week of Ticats training camp, the reigning CFL Coach of the Year felt it would be a “disservice” to everyone if a starter was named at the most important position in football. Masoli and Evans are receiving the same amount of reps by design through the layered plan.

“To be able to get them the multiple looks that they need to do, for you to get your chance to look at a certain coverage, a certain play, but you want to be able to do that from an evaluation standpoint,” Condell said.

“You just don’t want to look at it from the broad spectrum, you want to dig deep in regards to not only the personnel that they’re with but also the coverages that they’re seeing because you want to be able to layer it that way to have a great evaluation.”

Brandon Banks produced his first 1,000-yard season in 2017 with Masoli as the trigger man and followed it up with 1,423 yards in 2018. After Evans stepped in due to injury the last time CFL football was played, Speedy B recorded career highs with 112 receptions for 1,550 yards and 13 majors.

The three-down league’s 2019 Most Outstanding Player has turned out elite production no matter which quarterback has been throwing him the ball. And Banks isn’t about to get involved in the business of predicting which quarterback earns the starting job to begin the 2021 season.

“I don’t get paid to make those decisions. That’s going to be pretty tough, so I’m going to stay out of that. I’m just going out running routes and scoring touchdowns,” Banks said.

“It’s an even battle, both of them are equal to me, so whoever coach decides is going to be out there, I’m going to go and try to make them better, if I can.”

The Ticats open the season in Winnipeg against the Blue Bombers on Thursday, August 5. It’s fair to assume Hamilton will want to have at least a full week of preparation for the defending Grey Cup champions in order for the No. 1 QB to feel comfortable with the game plan.

“We’re going to string this thing out until we feel like we’re in a comfortable state as a coaching staff and then we’ll make a choice,” Steinauer said.

“They’re getting an equal amount of reps and it’s fun to watch. Both of them are throwing touchdowns, both of them are making mistakes like every other position.”

Justin Dunk is a football insider, sports reporter and anchor.