Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Quarterback Experience the Central Plot of CFL's West Division Semifinal

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Quarterback Experience the Central Plot of CFL's West Division Semifinal

Article excerpt

West semifinal a tale of two quarterbacks

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CALGARY - Quarterbacks Bo Levi Mitchell and Jonathan Jennings are close in age, but far apart in CFL playoff experience.

Mitchell, 25, has appeared in five post-season games, started two and led the Calgary Stampeders to a Grey Cup championship last year.

Jennings, 23, makes his playoff debut with the B.C. Lions in the West Division semifinal Sunday at McMahon Stadium.

The winner advances to the division final Nov. 22 in Edmonton against the Eskimos for the right to play in this year's Grey Cup.

It's a mismatch on paper at pivot when you consider Mitchell is the division nominee for the CFL's Most Outstanding Player Award and rookie Jennings didn't become the Lions' starter until late September.

But the Stampeders (14-4) were studiously ignoring the fact they're the heavy favourite against the Lions (7-11).

"Are we?" Stampeders middle linebacker Juwan Simpson asked Saturday. "We all know at this point in the season that the 18 games before this one really don't matter. Once you get to this point, it's a clean slate."

Calgary's defence allowed just four rushing touchdowns and tied with the Ottawa Redblacks for the fewest touchdown passes against (22).

The Eskimos defence tops the CFL statistically, but Lions coach Jeff Tedford said he considers Calgary's No. 1 in the league.

Simpson returns to the Stampeders lineup after missing five games with a broken clavicle. Calgary's co-captain acknowledged it's important the defence not give Jennings any reason to feel good about himself Sunday.

"He's the guy that gets the ball every play," Simpson said. "You stop him and get him rattled, you're doing well for yourself."

The Stampeders went 2-0 versus the Lions in 2015 although their meaningless regular-season finale in Vancouver last week featured several backup players. Neither Mitchell nor Jennings took any reps in Calgary's 28-7 victory.

Jennings' ascension to Lions starter began at McMahon on Sept. 18. Regular No. 1 Travis Lulay was out with a sprained knee and Jennings went in for injured backup John Beck in the second quarter of a 35-23 loss.

Jennings has completed 66 per cent of his passes for 2,004 yards and 15 touchdowns, but he's also been intercepted 10 times. …

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