Hamilton Tiger-Cats head coach Orlondo Steinauer has named his starting quarterback for the 108th Grey Cup against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers: Dane Evans.
Steinauer benched Jeremiah Masoli in favour of Evans during the second quarter of the 2021 East Final with the Ticats trailing 6-0. Evans came on to complete 16-of-16 passes for 249 yards with one touchdown and zero interceptions while adding two majors on the ground to lead a 27-19 comeback win, putting Hamilton in the CFL championship game.
“They’re ‘A’ people, they are ‘A’ quarterbacks, you have to make a decision and can’t start them both. It’s never easy because personally I don’t like letting people down, but you gotta make a decision, that’s what I get paid to do,” Steinauer said.
Masoli started and played the entire East Semi-Final, completing 18-of-28 passes (64 percent) for 184 yards with one touchdown and zero interceptions as the Ticats defeated the Montreal Alouettes 23-12. During that first-round game at Tim Hortons Field, Evans did not play a single snap.
Through the shortened 14-game regular season, Masoli completed 69 percent of his passes for 2,445 yards with 10 touchdowns and six interceptions, rushed 28 times for 184 yards and one major while producing a 4-5 win-loss record in nine starts.
The 28-year-old Evans completed 64 percent of his passes for 787 yards with six touchdowns and three interceptions plus rushed 20 times for 114 yards and three touchdowns during 10 games, three starts.
“It was managed by the two people that are players, meaning Jeremiah and Dane. It was transparent from the start being able to sign both of them, they understood only one was going to be able to start and the other one was going to be disappointed,” Steinauer said.
“I remember the first time I brought them in, Dane was definitely disappointed, Jeremiah was humbled, he wasn’t jumping for joy — it was a highly competitive camp. Managing it to me was about out in front, communication and being authentic with them.”
It was Masoli who earned the QB1 job coming out of training camp and he finished the regular season as the starter. However, Evans will start his second straight Grey Cup and try to make up for a poor performance in losing the 107th edition.
“I’m just happy to be playing, man. It magnifies it that it’s on the Grey Cup stage. Really thankful that the coaches and my teammate believe in me to give me this opportunity,” Evans said.
“Everybody’s different in every aspect of life from two years ago with everything everybody’s been through with COVID and being a professional athlete who lost a year from something that nobody in the world had ever been through.”