Nichols prepares for first CFL start
CALGARY—The Edmonton Eskimos hope the man who was their third-stringer to start this season can produce a storybook first CFL start.
Mired in a four-game losing streak, the Eskimos will look to quarterback Matt Nichols for much-needed relief when they visit the Calgary Stampeders tonight.
“Although you can’t simulate game speed in practice, when we put him in scenarios and circumstances in which he has to be a quick thinker, he’s passed the test with flying colours.
“We feel the entire playbook is open to us,” Reed added.
The 25-year-old from Redding, Calif. is getting the ball because the Esks say neither Steven Jyles nor Kerry Joseph are healthy enough to start.
Both are on today’s game roster, however, with Jyles at No. 2 behind Nichols.
Nichols, an Eastern Washington product, was signed by Edmonton in 2010. He’s had time to absorb the Canadian game, playing a series in a 51-8 loss to Hamilton on Sept. 15, when he threw a pair of scoring passes which were called back because of penalties.
He threw his first career touchdown pass Sept. 7 in a 20-18 loss to the Stampeders.
“I feel comfortable with the things I’ve done this week, things I’ve learned over the last year-and-a-half with this team,” Nichols said.
“I’ve felt comfortable the couple times I’ve been in this year and hope to continue that this week.
“It’s been a couple of years since I’ve played a real, meaningful game,” he noted.
“It’s an opportunity to play the game that I love,” Nichols added. “The opportunity to win a football game, that’s our job.”
Tonight’s game is the third meeting between Calgary and Edmonton this month. The Stampeders edged Esks 31-30 on Labour Day and won the rematch four days later by two points.
Edmonton is at the bottom of the CFL’s West Division at 5-7 while the Stamps—second in the West Division at 7-5—can claim the season series against Edmonton with a victory toinght.
“It’s crazy that you have to play a team three times within a month, but they did the schedule and we’ve got to live with it,” said Stamps’ quarterback Kevin Glenn.
It hasn’t been a comfortable week for Calgary. A four-game winning streak ended Sunday when they played sloppily in a 30-25 loss to the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
Star running back Jon Cornish was fined an undisclosed amount by the league and publicly admonished by his coach John Hufnagel for pulling his pants down and “mooning” Roughrider fans at Mosaic Stadium.
The Stamps also had their own quarterback drama with fears Glenn suffered a concussion due to a hard hit from Saskatchewan’s Odell Willis late in the game.
Glenn, 33, said he passed concussion tests and no longer suffers headaches.
Bo Levi Mitchell, also a quarterback at Eastern Washington after Nichols, will be Glenn’s back-up tonight.
Drew Tate, meanwhile, will be in a Calgary uniform for the first time since dislocating his non-throwing shoulder in the second game of the season and undergoing surgery.
The 27-year-old Texan wasn’t expected to return before the end of the regular season.