Quarterbacks, from what I’ve seen are of a different breed. They are unlike any other player in any sport. There’s the first half of a popular quote that I’ve thought of when thinking about quarterbacks. “Dance like no one’s watching, sing like nobody is listening….” It’s fair to say that many quarterbacks such as Laurence Nixon, could never quite understand the meaning of this quote. Because to those players who are behind centre, it’s the complete opposite. When the subject of quarterbacks comes up, this is the conclusion I’ve come to.
Quarterbacks don’t feel pressure. They never seem to hear negative vibes. When stakes are higher they thrive off of the hype and play better. Nixon’s performance in his first playoff win Saturday afternoon, a 53-23 shellacking of the Regina Rams, proves all of that to be right
The game, for all intents and purposes was over by 1:35 p.m after a 1 p.m. kickoff. If there was any pressure on the twenty-two year old pivot there was hardly any way to tell by his performance, as he coolly delivered passes to his receivers as though they were the only players on the field. Along with going 19 for 28 for 284 yards, he threw 5 touchdowns on the afternoon, second most in team history in less than a full game of work.
Deserved or not, Nixon has had his share of detractors this season as he attempts to live up to high standards. Early on in the season, he seemed uncomfortable and unsure, rushing his throws and throwing bad interceptions at a fast rate. Though the whole blame couldn’t be put on him, they needed their signal-caller to be at the top of his game to challenge for the Vanier. Since a 27-7 defeat at the hands of the Alberta Golden Bears, Nixon has done his homework. He’s making better reads, crisper throws and the game is slowing down for him.
Coming into Semi-final Saturday fans could have been expecting a tight game, as Regina, supposedly playing with nothing to lose, was looking to play the spoiler in a playoff game they arguably never deserved to be in. But it seemed as though they had shown up already half way into their off-season routine. Fans braced themselves for a close finish and no one was taking this game for granted, considering last fall’s playoff meltdown, but nerves in this game, even for the over-anxious, weren’t necessary.
This time, they didn’t need a jaw-dropping performance on special teams from Grant Shaw.
This time, they didn’t need a handful of interceptions to squeak out a victory (They still got 3)
This time, they didn’t need a spotless performance by the defense (though they still played great).
Every dog has his day, and with a first playoff victory in his sights, this was Laurence Nixon’s day.
Many other players had career days on that offense. Braeden George and Corey Jones each got three touchdowns, Hassler had a very strong outing and the offensive line had another commanding performance. The defense, led by a robust defensive line, gave the Rams offense fits and made sure they never got into a rhythm until the game was all but over. But on Saturday, Nixon was the “Glue guy”, the one who kept the offense together and in sync, enabling them to score on 5 of their first 6 drives. The one goal, the one motto he mentions every time the subject of playoffs comes up is just to “Prove it”. He has so far gone out and shown the rest of his teammates what proving it means.
With the Huskies game starting at 1 pm. and the game expected to finish around 4 p.m., it was clear that that wasn’t going to be a big enough time-slot for fans to get down to the Rider game. The only way for fans to pull it off would be to leave the Huskies game at half-time with the result out of the question. The way it played out, it seemed as though Nixon had his own ticket to the game and was trying to make quick work of his opposition, ensuring himself a spot at Taylor Field for the six o-clock kickoff…
When in reality, he was doing just about everything to ensure himself a spot in the Canada West Final.