CALGARY — For all of Kevin Glenn’s success at McMahon Stadium when he quarterbacked the Calgary Stampeders, it’s been a hostile place when he’s wearing enemy colours.
Glenn is 0-8 as a visiting quarterback in Calgary. The articulate CFL veteran was uncharacteristically stumped when informed of that dubious record prior to Friday’s game between his B.C. Lions and the host Stampeders.
“That’s crazy. I never knew that,” Glenn said Thursday. “They just win a lot here as the home team. Maybe the altitude? Is it the food here? It’s that Alberta beef.
“That’s a very interesting stat. Motivating, yes it is. Very motivating.”
After a decade in the league and stops in Hamilton, Winnipeg and Saskatchewan, the 35-year-old forged an identity in Calgary as an effective insurance policy at pivot.
Drew Tate was anointed Calgary’s No. 1 to start both the 2012 and 2013 campaigns, but Glenn played the majority of games because of Tate’s injuries.
Glenn posted a combined 20-8 record and led the Stamps to the Grey Cup game two years ago when they lost to Toronto. He was the winning quarterback in 10 of Calgary’s 14 victories last season. The Ottawa Redblacks claimed Glenn in the expansion draft, but when Ottawa signed Henry Burris, Glenn asked for a trade and was dealt to the Lions.
With Travis Lulay’s return delayed in Vancouver following his off-season shoulder surgery, Glenn has once again been the busiest “backup” in the CFL.
“The busiest backup is not a bad thing because you’re actually playing and if you’re playing it, means you’re the starter,” was Glenn’s logic. “You want to call me a starter backup or backup starter, however you want to name it, I’m still playing.”
The Lions are 2-3 following last week’s miserable 23-6 loss to Winnipeg, which was B.C.’s lowest point total since 1987. Glenn was sacked six times. His eight interceptions this season outpace the seven he gave up all of last season with Calgary.
The Stampeders are the only unbeaten team remaining in the CFL and can go 5-0 to start a season for the first time since 1995.
Calgary’s defence, particularly against the rush, is the major contributor to its success. The Stampeders’ 52 points against is the stingiest in the CFL by far. Hamilton and B.C. have each allowed 92.
Glenn was Calgary quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell’s mentor the two seasons they were Stampeder teammates.
“Kev, he was definitely one of those guys who taught me a lot about the CFL game, the transition from American to CFL,” Mitchell said.
“Having a locker right next to mine, any time I had a question, he’d answer it, but he’d go above and beyond. He wouldn’t just answer the question. He’s make sure I knew what he was saying and why he was saying it.”
Calgary’s offence ranks in the middle of the league as the 24-year-old Mitchell navigates his learning curve. Another victory and Mitchell will be the first CFL quarterback to win his first eight starts in the league, which is a streak that started last season.
“I do expect more out of this offence,” Mitchell said. “I expect us to be the one of the best if not the best offence in this league. I’m going to make sure I do everything in my power to put us in there.”
The Stampeders may know Glenn’s tendencies, but head coach and general manager John Hufnagel doesn’t consider that a significant advantage.
“I don’t think you can exploit it,” Hufnagel said. “You know what he likes to do. You know he is a rhythm passer, so you’re going to try to make him uncomfortable and nervous and try to prevent him from being a rhythm passer. But that’s all chalk talk.
“Kevin Glenn has won a lot, a lot of football games for us and played great football as a Calgary Stampeder. We know we have to play good sound defence tomorrow night.”
The absence of star running back Jon Cornish and fellow-Canadian Matt Walters due to concussions puts pressure on Calgary’s ratio of international and non-international players.
Americans Martell Mallett and Jock Sanders will share the workload at halfback with Jabari Arthur returning from a hamstring injury at slotback.
So veteran slotback Nik Lewis is a healthy scratch for Friday’s game. The 32-year-old’s streak of consecutive games with at least one reception ended at 166 last week and he has just two this season.
Mallett’s last CFL game was in 2009 with the Lions when he also won the league’s rookie-of-the-year award.
“Martell has been here since the first day of training camp. It’s not like we just brought him off the bus,” Hufnagel said. “The fact he hasn’t played because of the injuries he had in training camp prevented him from playing in the pre-season games, it is a little bit of a mystery, but I do recall him being rookie of the year one year and having an excellent season.”
Glenn’s departure from Calgary was amicable. He’s not quite sure what reception he’ll get Friday at McMahon.
“They’ve got a pretty good quarterback over here named Bo Levi Mitchell who is doing a pretty good job,” he said. “They might have forgotten about Kevin Glenn. That’s the past. That’s two-thousand what?
“But the Calgary fans were great to me. I’ll get a warm welcome, but after that it’ll probably be ’Kevin, you can’t play, you suck.’ That’s typically how it goes. You have to root for the home team.”