Edmonton Elks turn to Canadian quarterback Tre Ford as they try to end home streak with a win over Stampeders | Globalnews.ca

Last week, rookie Tre Ford became the first Canadian quarterback to start for the Edmonton Elks franchise in more than 50 years.

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This Thursday, he is expected to make his first start at Commonwealth Stadium, hoping to lead the Elks to their first home win since Oct. 12, 2019.

READ MORE: Tre Ford and Edmonton Elks beat Tiger-Cats 29-25 in Hamilton

To put that in perspective, when the Elks last won a home game, Ford was a third-year quarterback at the University of Waterloo.

The Elks (1-3) will host the Calgary Stampeders (3-0), who are looking to avenge a 30-23 Week 3 loss at McMahon Stadium.

READ MORE: Elks defense ready to flip the script against Stampeders on Thursday

Nick Arbuckle was removed from the starting role after that game. Ford, a first-round draft pick, did well enough to help the Elks go on the road and beat Hamilton 29-25 on Canada Day.

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Ford and Arbuckle were getting first-team snaps at practice before Thursday’s game, but coach and general manager Chris Jones cautioned against making too much of it.

“We always make sure everyone is prepared,” Jones said.

“Double barrel, and the guys get multiple snaps with both groups. We are trying to prepare for the worst of what could happen.”

The Elks have four quarterbacks on the roster, the others being Americans Kai Locksley and Taylor Cornelius, creating an unpredictable situation at center. Entering the season, Jones predicted that the battle for the quarterback job would continue through the 2022 campaign.

However, Ford, who can beat defenses with his arm or legs, is the man of the hour. His win numbers at Hamilton weren’t amazing: 159 yards through the air, another 61 yards on the ground. But the Niagara Falls, Ontario, native did what Arbuckle couldn’t do this season: lead the Elks to victory.

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“He’s very tough to defend, he’s tough in space and you’re not going to tackle him with one man,” Jones said. “You’re going to have to have more than one to catch it.

“He needs to make the passes that he needs to make, those little basic plays where he has to take the ball out of his hand and give it to his guys, and let his playmakers go.”

Stampeders head coach Dave Dickenson said Ford is not a complete unknown because of his high value in the draft.

Calgary Stampeders head coach Dave Dickenson speaks to players during the opening day of the CFL team’s training camp in Calgary, Sunday, May 15, 2022.


“We know him because we’ve worked hard through the draft process,” Dickenson said. “I think he is young, but he is confident. I think he enjoys the game. We just have to make sure that we are strict with our details. He will make his plays.

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“He can throw, he can run.”

READ MORE: Stampeders beat Elks 30-23

Arbuckle praised the quarterback who took his job, at least for now.

“I feel like it brings a different dynamic to the offense, and it’s hard for defenses to defend. Defenses will take a while to film and try to learn how to defend him, because it’s so different than defending me. He is a different type of athlete who emphasizes defenses in a different way.”

Despite Ford’s athleticism, don’t expect the Elks to add much fun to the playbook for Thursday’s game. Ford is still fresh off his U Sports career at Waterloo, and Jones vowed he won’t overwhelm his work-in-progress team with a complex game plan.

“I think it’s a matter of keeping it simple for now, letting myself learn and becoming a master of what we have.” Ford said.

“Then try to build it up, making it more difficult from there, making it harder for defenses to cover, and get in there and make some special plays where I can use my legs.”

While the Elks are likely to keep things simple, expect the Stamps to introduce defensive looks meant to confuse the rookie quarterback. The Stamps only allowed 290 yards of offense to the Elks when the teams met in Week 3, and they present a much tougher challenge to Ford than the winless Ticats.

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“Young quarterbacks, we want to give you multiple looks,” Dickenson said. “That’s what we’re going to try to do.”

Click to play video: 'Stamping linebacker Jameer Thurman in the first Battle of Alberta of 2022'

Stamps linebacker Jameer Thurman in the first Battle of Alberta of 2022

Pin linebacker Jameer Thurman in the first Battle of Alberta of 2022 – June 23, 2022

Ford was a top pick in the draft, but the idea of ​​a Canadian college quarterback going into the CFL and getting a starting job so soon is novel. Nor would you expect a rookie quarterback from an American university to carry so much responsibility.

“U Sports quarterbacks don’t come in (in the CFL) and they start in Week 4,” Ford said. “I wasn’t expecting this. But, at the same time, I’m always ready to go.”

© 2022 The Canadian Press

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