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Former South Dakota quarterback adjusts to Canadian league

October 8, 2018

VERMILLION, S.D. (AP) — Local interest in the Winnipeg Blue Bombers pretty much begins and ends with former South Dakota quarterback Chris Streveler, whose exploits in the CFL have proven to be far more compelling than whether his team wins or loses.

During a recent bye-week visit to the DakotaDome, where Streveler helped usher in the Bob Nielson era with a bang over two seasons, he got a chance to get in several workouts and catch up with his former coaches and teammates.

“Getting to start the first three games was kind of a whirlwind for me,” Streveler said of his rookie CFL season. “Unfortunately I was only able to get one win out of those starts, but it was an experience that I’ll be able to continue to build upon the rest of the season and my career.

“Getting in every game since then situationally with the short yardage package — something they’ve given me a great game plan for — has been a great experience, too. I’m looking forward to the opportunity to learn and hopefully get better every day.”

Canada has not robbed the kid of his capacity to answer a sportswriter’s question in well-organized paragraph form. He took a bunch of other traits with him that football fans in Winnipeg have been impressed by during a season that has been a struggle for the Blue Bombers.

It started with Streveler signing with Winnipeg as a free agent last May after not drawing serious interest from the NFL despite putting together an All-American season at USD, where he showed himself to be an excellent passer and an off-the-charts runner.

When starter Matt Nichols, a 31-year-old former Eastern Washington quarterback who posted some of the top numbers in the CFL in 2016 and 2017, got injured in training camp, the Blue Bombers, their fans and the league all of a sudden got real curious about the rookie free agent from USD.

In those three starts in Nichols’ absence, Streveler completed 54 passes in 86 attempts for 570 yards. He also ran 22 times for 183 yards.

He has since become a much-talked-about backup, seeing spot duty over the following 10 games while his Blue Bombers struggled, the Argus Leader reported. A win last week over the floundering Montreal Alouettes broke up a four-game losing streak and put the Bombers at 6-7 with five games remaining. It quieted at least a little of the clamor about giving Streveler a start over one of the league’s best quarterbacks.

“I don’t think a lot of people down here understand the level of talent in the CFL,” Streveler said. “There are some really, really high-quality players. I mean, it’s professional football. Every team is a good team and you have to bring your ‘A’ game every single week if you want to have a chance to compete.”

His CFL career includes one amusing quirk that drew a small amount of national attention. In a game against Hamilton on ESPN2, Streveler was mic’d up for a television audience that heard something that sounded like a profanity followed by “Bieber” as the players lined up for a touchdown conversion.

He said it several times as his team hurried into their formation for the play.

Why would the rookie quarterback be denigrating this famous singer-songwriter from Canada? What did Justin Bieber ever do to Chris Streveler to make him so angry?

In truth he was not saying “Bieber” to his teammates, he was making a call at the line using a word that sounded similar. And the rest of it he can explain.

“What they tell you is, ‘Hey, we’re going to put this microphone on you. Don’t censor what you’re going to say in the game,’” recalled Streveler. “They made it clear my job is not to figure out what I’m going to say out there.”

Streveler did not want the play call going out over the air where other CFL teams could pick it up. He reasoned if he preceded it with an expletive — they had his voice on a delay — that ESPN would decide to not let the audience hear any of that portion of the call.

“That was my thinking,” Streveler said. “But obviously they didn’t censor it so, yep, then that’s what you got on the TV.”

It has been a cultural experience as well for Streveler, who took a summer internship at the Great Plains Zoo prior to his senior season because he liked animals. He also decided against a free plane ticket from USD for the Walter Payton Award ceremony in Frisco, Texas, because he wanted to road trip it in a car with senior teammates.

He’s a student of the world, in other words.

“When I’ve gone through customs back to the United States, I’m dealing with Americans,” he said. “So it’s just the basic stuff. When I go back through customs to Canada, they recognize my name and they want to talk about the Blue Bombers. Winnipeg is a fun town, a little different than Vermillion. Plus it’s a different country. There are different things to explore. I’m having fun with that.”


Information from: Argus Leader, http://www.argusleader.com

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