TORONTO — There are any number of facets during a football game that can result in a win, but on Sunday at the 100th Grey Cup it begins and ends with the quarterbacks, as Ricky Ray of the Toronto Argonauts and Kevin Glenn of the Calgary Stampeders prepare to lead their teams.
Ray will be playing in his fourth Grey Cup, his first with the Argos, while looking to hoist the Cup for a third time.
This will be Glenn’s first time playing in a Grey Cup even though he helped the Winnipeg Blue Bombers advance to the championship game in 2007 — Glenn broke his arm in the East Final, ironically against the Argos in the Rogers Centre which is the venue playing host to Sunday’s game.
Two men that know the quarterback position better than most are Argos’ head coach Scott Milanovich and Stamps’ head coach John Hufnagel, both who were pivots in their playing days.
Milanovich played professionally from 1996 to 2003 and spent some time with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Cleveland Browns in the National Football League as well as with the Stampeders in his final year.
Hufnagel, who is 22 years Milanovich’s senior, played from 1973 to 1987 including stints with the Denver Broncos, Saskatchewan Roughriders, Blue Bombers and Stampeders.
Although neither QB played a full season — Glenn because Drew Tate started several games for the Stamps, while Ray missed several games with a knee injury — both put up excellent numbers in 2012.
Glenn finished the year with 4,220 passing yards, 25 touchdowns, 16 interceptions and a QB rating of 97.2; Ray had 4,059 passing yards, 20 TDs, 11 interceptions and a rating of 99.8.
Each coach knows that the opposing quarterback has a specific skill set, which could be trouble if their team isn’t prepared.
"Being in the East for so long I’ve watched Kevin so much. He gets so hot; he gets very streaky, I mean he’ll hit 14 in a row," Milanovich said at a coaches’ press conference Wednesday.
"I think the one thing that Kevin doesn’t get credit for often enough is his mobility in the pocket, making plays and picking up the first down running or spotting the free receiver. Let’s face it, this guy’s a starting quarterback and it was a great move by Calgary to have him there in case what happened to Drew happened (Glenn was acquired in the off-season from the Hamilton Tiger-Cats as part of the Henry Burris trade). Our guys have a ton of respect for Kevin as do I; I’ve been beaten by him a number of times."
Hufnagel has been topped by Ray throughout his coaching career a number of times as well.
"Let me put it this way, I was pleased to hear the announcement that he was (traded to Toronto form Edmonton)," Hufnagel said. "I saw enough of him in the green and gold. He’s just a great competitor; he’s not going to give up.
"His ability to throw the football with accuracy, his ability to read defences and make plays. We’ve talked about Kevin’s mobility that sometimes it’s underestimated, but Ricky’s the same way. He can extend the play and even run for a first down."
Although both coaches had relative success playing the position, neither see any similarities in the way Ray and Glenn play compared to how they played the game years ago.
Hufnegal joked that if he had the abilities of a Glenn or Ray he’d still be playing today.
Ray and Glenn had a solid regular season and have played well throughout the playoffs. On Sunday, the Grey Cup could be determined by which quarterback performs better, or by which coach does enough to take the opposing quarterback off their game.