Hamilton Tiger-Cats head coach Orlondo Steinauer delivered a blunt response when asked about his confidence level in quarterback David Watford.
“Come on, man. We don’t put anybody out there that we don’t think we can win with,” Steinauer said.
In his third CFL season, Watford will make the first start of his career in the pro three-down league. It’ll be his first start since playing as a senior at Hampton University in 2015. With Dane Evans out four-to-six weeks due to a lower body injury and Jeremiah Masoli continuing to deal with hurting ribs, Watford gets the call.
“He’s athletic, he’s strong, tremendously strong arm, he’s tough. He’s paid to play quarterback and he’s going to get that opportunity. You do not envision getting to the third guy, but here we are — we’ll be ready to play,” Steinauer said.
Watford took the majority of reps with the starting offence during the preparation week of practice for the Calgary Stampeders in Week 7. He finished Hamilton’s Week 6 loss to the Toronto Argonauts completing 6-of-10 passes for 78 yards while leading a late touchdown drive.
“I was just at home a month or so ago. The confidence comes from the guys. Everybody is super excited for me. There were times where I struggled and wasn’t as prepared as I should’ve been and I learned from that. As a quarterback you have to stay ready,” Watford said.
Meanwhile, Masoli will dress for the match-up against the Stamps on Friday night. He did take limited reps in practice during the week, but as the days went along the Tabbies leaned toward and are ultimately starting Watford. In Week 8, Hamilton plays Ottawa on Wednesday, September 22 and the quick turnaround played a role in Masoli at least starting the game on the sidelines.
“This is an injury — it’s really a pain tolerance thing. If this was a make it or break it game, no doubt that Jeremiah would be going. That’s not the case and what’s best for Jeremiah and for our football team right now is to run David out there,” Steinauer said.
“Jeremiah is definitely available to play, but with all the information we had the best situation for our football team was to run David out there, at least in the beginning, and see what happens.”
Whoever plays QB for the Tiger-Cats will be looking to lead Hamilton to their 11th straight win at Tim Hortons Field. The franchise record for consecutive home victories is 14 which happened between 1957 to 1959.