October 13, 2022

48-Hour Primer | WPG at BC

There’s always a fascination with first starts for any quarterback in any league and at any level.

What then typically follows is a complete overreaction to every throw and every decision as part of a way-too-soon rush to judgment on how the rest of a guy’s career will supposedly unfold.

Every quarterback has or will live through that, including those who make up the Winnipeg Blue Bombers QB room in Zach Collaros, Dakota Prukop, offensive coordinator Buck Pierce and the man who will start Saturday in Vancouver against the B.C. Lions, Dru Brown.

And to all that and more, Pierce can simply offer this advice to Brown:

“Understand that you don’t have to go win the football game on your own,” Pierce said Thursday. “It’s all the same things you would say to a quarterback: Trust your eyes. You don’t have to be perfect. Try and control what you can control and that’s putting our offence in position to score points, whether that’s running or throwing. Your job is to help us get into the end zone and take care of the football.

“Trust the gameplan and the work you’ve put in. And once you get out there you will recognize the pictures and get into a rhythm and get comfortable out there. You never win the game on the first drive, so just go out there and play your game, be decisive and enjoy the moment as well. Dru understands all that.”

The Blue Bombers will start a different quarterback for just the second time during the Zach Collaros era, with Brown joining Sean McGuire as the only two pivots to take the first snap from centre for the club since late October of 2019.

It didn’t go so well last year at a rain-soaked McGill Stadium in Montreal as Collaros was rested after the Blue Bombers clinched first place and McGuire threw for one TD against four interceptions in what was a 28-14 loss to the Alouettes. McGuire retired after the 2021 Grey Cup championship.

But just for the record, this should be noted:

  • Blue Bombers all-time leading passer and two-time CFL Most Outstanding Player Dieter Brock was 4-of-9 for 58 yards in his first start back in 1974.
  • Mr. Blue Bomber, Ken Ploen, was just six of 12 for 95 yards with one TD and one pick in his first start in 1957.
  • And hall of famer Jack Jacobs was 4-of-16 for 89 yards and a TD in his first start in 1950.

The point here? One start certainly doesn’t make a career, one way or another.

That said, Brown will enter Saturday’s game with high expectations from the club and his teammates. They’ve already seen flashes of his skill in action, from his extended work off the bench in a regular season finale loss to the Calgary Stampeders last year, to driving the Blue Bombers into position for a last-second win in Week 1 over the Ottawa RedBlacks, to rifling a 65-yard TD strike to Dalton Schoen last week.

Pierce spoke Thursday of Brown’s growth coming in his understanding of the Canadian game and how, as a result, the ball comes out his hands quickly because he trusts his reads of the defensive alignment across from him. All those moments can be massive in a QB’s development and, perhaps even more importantly, in his acceptance from those who matter most.

“The biggest thing as a quarterback when you do that is your team sees it and your offence and the guys around say, ‘All right, this guy is going to go out there and lead us,’” said Pierce. “That in turn gives Dru confidence that the guys are behind them.

“You can never focus on the end result of what happens. Control what you can control and just go out there and do what you’ve been doing every day and that’s just playing football. Trust your eyes, trust your reads and stay within your system. Plus, understand you’re in this position because you’ve earned it, and the coaches and teammates have confidence in you. Now just go out there and play football.”


A look at the Blue Bombers daily injury report lists tackles Stanley Bryant and Jermarcus Hardrick as questionable, while defensive back Deatrick Nichols is listed as out due to a personal matter.

Also listed as out are receivers Drew Wolitarsky and Greg Ellingson, defensive end Thiadric Hansen, and defensive backs Nick Taylor, Noah Hallett and Malcolm Thompson.

Bet Regal has the Lions as 2.5-point favourites for Saturday’s game against the Blue Bombers:

  • The Blue Bombers have won five straight against the Lions, including their most recent meeting – a 43-22 victory in Vancouver earlier this season.
  • Worth noting: Winnipeg has won its last three regular-season visits to B.C. dating back to 2019 by 21, 21 and 10-point margins.

Winnipeg’s over-under point total is currently set at 23.5:

  • The Blue Bombers have scored 164 points in their last four games, or an average of 41 per contest.
  • Winnipeg has scored more than 30 points eight times in its last 12 games, including two games of more than 40 and once over 50.

Check out the CFL’s Blitz Picks, presented by BetRegal, here.