NEWS
09/02/2015 15:54 EDT | Updated 09/02/2016 01:12 EDT

Alouettes quarterback carousel takes another turn as Marsh starts against Lions

MONTREAL — Another game, another new starter for the Montreal Alouettes.

Tanner Marsh is expected to start Thursday night when the Alouettes (4-5) host the slumping B.C. Lions (3-5). Montreal won the first meeting of the season 23-13 in Vancouver two weeks ago with rookie Rakeem Cato under centre.

Marsh replaced Cato (hip pointer) in Montreal's 26-23 road win over Hamilton last weekend. Als coach Jim Popp said while Cato was able to practise early in the week, he returned home to Florida to deal with a family emergency and it's unclear if he'll be back in time for the game.

"When you start a game you go through more emotions because you have the whole game," said Marsh, who hasn't started since 2013. "It's all on you from the get go."

Montreal is after a third straight win while B.C. has suffered two consecutive losses.

Montreal has had a revolving door at quarterback since all-time CFL passing leader Anthony Calvillo suffered a concussion seven games into the 2013 season. Marsh, Josh Neiswander and Troy Smith led the Als to an 8-10 campaign that year.

After Calvillo retired, Smith was tabbed as the main man in 2014. But after a 1-7 start, Jonathan Crompton took over and led the team to a 9-9 mark and into the East Division final.

But Compton and backup Dan LeFevour were both injured in Montreal's season opener, resulting in third-string Canadian Brandon Bridge getting into his first CFL game.

Cato started the next eight contests, going 4-4. Marsh, who opened the season on the six-game injured list, became the fifth Alouettes quarterback to take a snap this year.

"We're very used to it, it's been going on for three years," said Popp. "At first, when it happened with Anthony it was a big of a shock because you'd been winning with the same guy for so many years.

"But as that season went along and the guys saw we could win with our fourth quarterback, that subsided. They got over it."

Bridge, of Mississauga, Ont., is likely to dress as the backup with rookie Anthony Boone as the third stringer. Crompton remains on the injured list, while LeFevour is out for the season.

Cato was impressive before his injury, but Marsh took over in Hamilton and completed 11-of-18 passes for 99 yards and an interception.

While Cato looks to be the better passer, Marsh is bigger and likes to run. That could be key against B.C., which is allowing a league-high 134.3 yards rushing per game.

Montreal ran the ball at will in the first meeting and the absence of star linebacker Solomon Elimimian (Achilles tendon) won't help the Lions.

"We have to go out there and meet their intensity and their physicality," said B.C. defensive back Ryan Phillips. "We have to make sure we stop the run and put the game in their quarterback's hands."

Added Montreal tackle Josh Bourke: "We know they've been watching the film and they'll bring different things to stop the run. If they're stacking the box a lot, we'll have to throw the ball more."

Last season, Marsh was used almost exclusively in short-yardage situations and likely would've seen similar duty in 2015 had injuries not piled up as they did.

Now the linemen and receivers must adjust again to a new starter.

"It's a challenge, but we're not going to use it as an excuse," said Bourque. "You just have to know your quarterback, know his tendencies."

Bill Beacon, The Canadian Press