Canadian quarterback Tre Ford will start for the Edmonton Elks on Friday when they close out their regular season against the B.C. Lions. It will be his first start since Week 5 when he suffered a shoulder injury against the Calgary Stampeders.
“This is a great opportunity for him. He’s a rookie, so to get an opportunity to play a live game under the lights at your home stadium with a chance to do something special and to essentially go into the off-season on a positive note and put us in a better frame of mind,” head coach and general manager Chris Jones told the media in Edmonton.
“He’s got a little more zip on the ball than he did three weeks ago when he first came back [from injury]. I thought when he came back that he was still a little slight of being able to turn it loose and let it rip but last week he looked good.”
Ford served as the primary backup to Nick Arbuckle to start the season before taking over the starting role in Week 4. He led the team to a 29-25 victory over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in that game before becoming injured the following week. Taylor Cornelius, who won the starting job after taking over from Ford, is out this week due to a spleen injury.
The Waterloo product has completed 54.5 percent of his passes this season for 219 yards, one touchdown, and three interceptions. The dual-threat pivot has also carried the ball 11 times for 77 yards, though Jones cautioned against anyone who views Ford as a mere runner.
“He’s not just a running quarterback. Out of camp, he was the second-highest as far as throwing the football. He’s a guy that knows how to deliver the football. In fact, when we went to Buffalo that’s the first time I got to see him live and I called [quarterbacks coach Jarious Jackson] and I said you really need to look at this kid because I think he’s got the arm talent to be a quarterback,” said Jones.
“You would assume that he’s just that running-type guy or third down-type quarterback, but he’s proved to be more than that.”
Ford won the Hec Crighton Trophy as the best player in U Sports football in 2021 after completing 63 percent of his passes for 1,770 yards, 12 touchdowns, and six interceptions along with 66 carries for 667 yards and three touchdowns in seven games. He was selected with the eighth overall pick in the 2022 CFL Draft, making him the league’s highest-drafted quarterback since 1980.
At 4-13, the Elks are no longer eligible for postseason contention with their season coming to an end against B.C. this week. They are still looking to end a home losing streak that dates back to October 2019, growing to a league-record 16 games.