Strong under centre. That is what each team is going to need from the pivotal position on the field for the 108th Grey Cup. So who is leading out each team as we see a repeat of the 2019 Grey Cup pairing? The Winnipeg Blue Bombers and Hamilton Tiger-Cats square off once more. But does one team have an advantage under centre?
Come Sunday it will be time for the 2021 Grey Cup. A much anticipated rematch that has been 2 years in the making. All due to a cancelled season. Which make this feel all the more important. Not only will we get a game. But parallel to that it will feel like a celebration of the return and continuation of the CFL.
No more prognosticating. It’s time to settle it on the field. Coverage starts at 11 pm (UK time) on Sunday as the Blue Bombers and Tiger-Cats take the field at Tim Hortons Field.
Winnipeg – Zach Collaros
The defending champs found their man in a slightly convoluted fashion. Winnipeg started their 2019 season with the Blue Bombers team MOP from 2016 & 2017, Matt Nichols under centre. Having made a 7-2 start Winnipeg lost their QB to injury. At first Chris Streveler stepped up. Which led to a record. Unfortunately he was also hurt and it fell to Zach Collaros to lead the team.
Since taking the reigns for Winnipeg, Collaros has been a great run of success leading the team. After coming in towards the end of the 2019 season he went 4-0 in his starts all the way up to the Grey Cup. Over that run he completed 67-of-97 passes for 851 yards with four touchdowns and one interception.
That success carried over into the 2021 season. This season he started 13 games and there was a continuation for Winnipeg, as Collaros has continued to be on a great run of success leading the team. For the season he has completed 243-of-346 passes for 3,185 yards with twenty touchdowns and six interceptions. No small part in Winnipeg going 11-3 for the best record in the league.
Collaros has already been named a Western All Star and is a leading candidate to be named league MOP. He was previously named the Ticats Most Outstanding Player in both 2014 and 2015. Strong under centre? Collaros ticks the boxes for Winnipeg.
Hamilton – Dane Evans
For Hamilton, the journey to Dane Evans has once again proved a roundabout one. It is only this week that Ticats coach Orlondo Steinauer announced him as presumptive starter for the Grey Cup. In a call back to the 2019 Grey Cup, he is again stepping into the place vacated by Jeremiah Masoli.
In 2019 he stepped in when Masoli was lost to a torn ACL in a 23-15 regular season win over Winnipeg. Evans responded over 11 starts by throwing 3,750 yards coming via 298 completions on 413 attempts. Evans also added 21 touchdowns against 13 interceptions that season.
A defining memory however is of the Winnipeg D Line dominating in the Grey Cup and making life more than a little difficult for Evans. This time around he will be looking for more time to set and throw.
This season he had appeared in 10 games, making three starts. For which he completed 69 of 107 passes for 787 yards, with six passing touchdowns and three interceptions. Evans also added 20 carries for 114 yards and three rushing touchdowns.
The real key performance came in the Eastern Final however. With the Ticats 6-0 behind in Toronto, Evans came in for Masoli and was literally perfect. For that game he completed 16 of 16 pass attempts for 249 yards including a 30-yard touchdown pass and, added six carries for 14 yards and two rushing touchdowns.
Strong under centre? Dane Evans has come through a lot to get here. But, if he plays anywhere near the level he did in Toronto he can have an impact on this game.
Hoping for a great game
This will mark the second Grey Cup meeting between these teams in three years. And the second in a row. Winnipeg & Hamilton are two of the best passing Defences in the CFL this season. So for either team to have success they will have to be strong under centre.
So where does the advantage lie? You would probably say with Winnipeg going into the game. But you never know for certain what will happen when the game starts to unfold.
As ever, it will be fun watching it all play out.
Banner image from cfl.ca