Battle to back up Harris at QB intensifies in Regina
Trio of pivots show their stuff to coaches in Riders' pre-season win over the Lions
The Saskatchewan Roughriders' backup quarterback situation is as clear ... as mud.
And that's not necessarily a bad thing.
All three quarterbacks — Jake Dolegala, Shea Patterson and Mason Fine — put together solid performances in the Riders' pre-season game on Saturday night at Mosaic Stadium, as the Green and White posted a 30-27 victory over the visiting B.C. Lions.
“I thought all three quarterbacks played pretty well,” Riders head coach Craig Dickenson said of the trio who are battling for the backup spot behind No. 1 QB Trevor Harris, who did not dress for the game.
Dolegala started the game for the Riders and finished the night having completed 12 of 17 passes for 97 yards. He also added 23 rushing yards, including a one-yard touchdown run.
“I feel like I played within myself,” Dolegala told reporters postgame. “A couple mistakes here and there but I think I made up for it with my legs.
“For the most part, we were able to move the ball. I think we did what we wanted to do.”
Patterson came in near the end of the first half and played the entire third quarter, completing 10 of 14 passes for 77 yards and a touchdown, as he connected with Keith Corbin III for the 22-yard major on the quarterback's fourth and final possession of the game.
“First couple of drives were a little rusty, getting the kinks out, but I felt like as I got that second half going, I kind of got the party started with Keith on that touchdown,” said Patterson.
Fine came in for the fourth quarter and on his first pass, he threw an interception which was returned for a touchdown — not an ideal start.
“The worst possible thing that could have happened, happened,” said Fine. “I was down bad there for a minute ... (but) I had great teammates and coaches come over there and pick me up.”
And Fine did rebound nicely, leading the Riders to two touchdown drives — with both major scores through the air to receiver Mitch Picton — as Saskatchewan erased a 27-17 deficit to post the 30-27 victory. Fine finished the night having completed 8 of 10 passes for 110 yards with two touchdowns and an interception.
“Just stay confident in yourself,” said Fine of his bounce-back mentality. “Just go out there and execute.
“You don't want to press too much because then you'll make more mistakes but you also don't want to be timid and be hesitant and then you're not taking the shots when you want to.”
With Harris expected to get the majority of the reps in the Riders' second pre-season game next Friday against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers (6:30 p.m., Investors Group Field), the decision on who will earn the No. 2 spot for the opening week of the season will be hard to make based on this game and what the trio have shown during training camp, as all have performed well during practice.
“We're hoping that after watching the film, we'll have a little more clarity, but it may not be clear, but that's good when you have tough decisions to make,” said Dickenson.
The head coach also alluded to the fact the Riders will likely dress three quarterbacks this year and could have the option to have another on the practice roster, meaning there's a chance all four quarterbacks could be here after the final cuts are made.
“A lot of times it's just a gut decision,” said Dickenson.