Dinos' coach coy about starting QB on eve of Vanier Cup
'Jimmy has had a great week, Adam has had a great week, they're both ready to go'
Fifth-year quarterback Jimmy Underdahl will have his university football career come to an end Saturday at the Vanier Cup. He still doesn't know if he'll be a starter or a backup for his final game.
Calgary head coach Wayne Harris said Friday that he has yet to decide whether Underdahl or rookie Adam Sinagra will get the start when the Dinos face the Laval Rouge et Or at Tim Hortons Field.
"Nothing is for sure with this team this year," Harris said with a laugh following his team's final walkthrough before the championship game.
"Jimmy has had a great week, Adam has had a great week, they're both ready to go. Like every game, it's just how the circumstances play out and we'll see how it is tomorrow."
Just returned from injury
The 23-year-old Underdahl returned from injury last week in the Mitchell Bowl against the St.FX X-Men, leading his team to a big second half and 50-24 victory.
Underdahl replaced Sinagra in the third quarter last Saturday at McMahon Stadium and led the Dinos to touchdowns on his first two drives to put the game out of reach. He was named game MVP after going 11 for 16 for 217 passing yards, two TDs and one interception.
"I've been around this team a long time. This is how I want my career to end, in a national championship. I can't think of any better way," Underdahl said. "It's time to leave it all out on the field."
Sinagra, 21, took over as Calgary's starting pivot after Underdahl suffered a knee injury against Manitoba on Oct. 14.
Sinagra, from Pointe Claire, Que., finished the regular season with a 1-1 mark but picked it up in the post-season, throwing for 368 yards and three TDs against UBC in the Canada West final. The performance earned him Hardy Cup MVP honours.
Sinagra, who was 17 of 27 for 234 yards and one touchdown in the first half against the X-Men, said that he's preparing as usual for Saturday.
"I'll probably have a few butterflies just like any other game before the game but I think my preparation will just help with the nerves, I guess," he said.
Underdahl was on the Dinos roster when they fell to Laval in the 2013 Vanier Cup in Quebec City. The Calgary native was a backup to current Stampeders pivot Andrew Buckley at the time and says a victory Saturday would mean a lot to his former teammates who weren't able to win the title three years ago.
"I think it would close that chapter a bit," Underdahl said. "That was such a great team, there were so many guys on that team that went to the CFL. Even guys that were great football players that weren't able to play in another national championship."
Dinos 0-4 against Laval
Calgary, ranked No. 6, is 0-4 all-time against Laval and is looking for its first national championship since 1995. Laval is attempting to win its ninth Vanier Cup and first since the 2013 victory in Quebec City.
Harris admits that Laval is the favourite due to its No. 1 U Sports ranking and the fact that Calgary has yet to beat them. But he adds that if the Dinos can match their opponent's intensity and take advantage of their opportunities, they have a chance.
"In a national championship, you never know what all might happen," Harris said.
Whether Underdahl or Sinagra starts, both will have their hands full with a Laval defence that allowed an average of 294 yards per game — ranking second in U Sports.
The Rouge et Or also limited opponents to 202.3 passing yards per game (fourth in U Sports) and 91.8 rushing yards per game (third in U Sports).
"We're going to have to do our best to have our playmakers make some plays because it's going to come down to who's going to go up and get the contested footballs, cram it inside, get some yards," Underdahl said.
"It's going to be a tough game offensively but I think we're ready for the challenge."