|With photos from Riderville.com|
Welcome to the all-quarterback edition of Out of the Tunnel.
Today let’s stick close to home and look at the five current pivots on the Saskatchewan Roughriders roster.
|DETAILS COMING SOON!|
The Green and White made what might be the most crucial trade in the Chris Jones Era by picking up Zach Collaros from the Hamilton Tiger Cats in exchange for a 2nd round pick in May’s CFL Draft.
The starting job will be Collaros's to lose. You don’t give up such a high draft pick for a player that will sit on the bench. The big question is, which Collaros will we see?
Will it be the player that was brilliant in 2015 before a September knee injury ended his season and kept him out the first six games of the 2016 season? Before the injury Collaros threw for 3376 yards with 25 touchdowns and just eight interceptions for a quarterback rating of 113.68. Even better was his record, getting the Ti Cats to a solid 8-4 start.
Or will he be the post-injury Zach Collaros? Since the injury the 29-year old has had a difficult time rebounding. In the 18 games he started in 2016 and 2017, Collaros had 25 touchdowns but also 16 interceptions and a quarterback rating of 91.01. His record was a paltry 3-15 including going 0-8 to start 2017.
Of course all of the woes cannot be placed on Collaros and even the Tiger-Cats are the first to admit that. They had injuries at receiver, the offensive line was porous and there was no real running game to speak of.
Collaros does fit well with the Stephen McAdoo offence which loves the quick hitters and screens with the odd deep pass. Collaros’s skills are similar to Mike Reilly’s and, if healthy, could be the key cog in getting the Riders over the hump and into the upper echelon of the CFL West.
If Collaros hits a few bumps in the road, the Riders have a fantastic plan B.
Brandon Bridge was given a chance to finally play games that mattered and he played well. In rotation with Kevin Glenn, Bridge helped the Riders get over the hump in some very difficult situations which garnered them a crossover playoff berth in the end.
Bridge is an incredible thrower of the football and is still learning to be a passer. There is no doubt he has the strongest arm on the Rider roster, but is still refining himself as an all-around quarterback. He can make things happen with his feet and extend plays when everything collapses.
If Bridge can take that final step in becoming the studious field general, the Riders may have the best one-two punch of quarterbacks in the CFL.
VERNON ADAMS JR.
Vernon Adams Jr. is the short yardage/change of pace quarterback that Chris Jones loves. He had Jordan Lynch in Edmonton, but Adams is a much better quarterback.
One would think that the former Oregon Duck and Eastern Washington Eagles star would want a shot at a starting job. His college resume says so, and being a shade under six-feet tall doesn’t hinder him in the CFL game.
The dark horse in the pen of Rider quarterbacks is Marquise Williams. He broke all of Darian Durant’s records at North Carolina and has the size, skill and arm strength to be a CFL quarterback.
The final pivot on the list is David Watford. The former Virginia Cavalier/Hampton Pirate was at the Riders’ Florida camp in 2016 before signing with the Philadelphia Eagles as a receiver and spent the season on the practice roster. The Riders signed him late last season.
So many questions, no real answers, but the Riders are in a great position heading into Training Camp in just four months.
CFL Quarterback Notes:
- The Montreal Alouettes added to their pool of quarterbacks on the weekend. Former Tampa Bay Buccaneer Josh Freeman was signed with the hope he can regain some part of his 2012 form. In that year, Freeman threw for over 4,000 yards and 27 touchdowns. With an aging Darian Durant coming off a bad season and really nothing else, the Als need all the help they can get.
- The Johnny Manziel saga continues. In summary: he hasn’t taken a snap in two years, wants a pile of money and it doesn’t appear like he or his agent will budge (and for that fact, don’t understand the financials of a CFL salary cap). Like most CFL fans, we will only believe he will be in the CFL when he lines up behind centre in a game.
- The starters are pretty much sewn up across the CFL but it will be interesting who will be backing up in Winnipeg, B.C., Montreal and of course Hamilton.
FROM IN THE HUDDLE TO HOLDING THE WHISTLE
Quarterbacks come and go en masse in the CFL. The Riders have had a revolving door of pivots start games, appear in training camp or toil on the practice roster. One thing that is become a trend is that many of them go on to become coaches of some sort.
We know the exploits of John Hufnagel, Kent Austin, Ron Lancaster, Joe Paopao and Tom Clements and even Ryan Dinwiddie (because he is still coaching in the CFL), in the coaching ranks, but here are 10 more that are still working in football:
Graham Harrell – He spent 2009 with the Riders mostly on the injured reserve list before playing for the Green Bay Packers between 2010 and 2012. Since then Harrell has coached at Oklahoma State and Washington State before his current role as offensive coordinator with the North Texas Mean Green.
Seth Doege – After two seasons with the Riders in 2014-15, Doege joined Bowling Green as a graduate assistant in 2016. He was named their wide receivers coach last season.
Tino Sunseri – The coach’s son played for the Riders between 2013-2015. He joined the Florida State coaching staff as a quality control coach in 2016. He was just recently hired to join the Tennessee Volunteers staff under new head coach Jeremy Pruitt
Marcus Crandell – His 10-year playing career ended with the Riders in 2008 and the next season he joined the coaching staff. After stops in Edmonton and Ottawa, Crandell is now the offensive coordinator at the University of Saskatchewan.
Steve Sarkisian – “Sark” spent two seasons in Saskatchewan in the 90’s before he became one of the best college coaches in the United States. He was the head coach of the University of Washington for five seasons before heading up one of the premiere programs in college football, the USC Trojans. He was fired from USC because of alcohol-related incidents, but now has his life back on track and is currently the offensive coordinator for the Atlanta Falcons.
Jeff Tedford – Known more as a quarterback for the Hamilton Ti Cats, Tedford played one season in Saskatchewan in 1987. His coaching career is just as impressive as Sarkisian’s. He was the head coach of the Cal Bears for 11 seasons before joining the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as their offensive coordinator. After one season there he was named head coach of the B.C. Lions. Tedford is now back as head coach at his alma mater, Fresno State.
Kerry Joseph – The Rider legend is currently the co-offensive coordinator/WR’s coach at his alma mater McNeese State.
G.J. Kinne – Played just one season with the Riders in 2016 before joining the SMU Mustangs as an offensive graduate assistant under his former offensive coordinator at Tulsa, Chad Morris. When Morris moved on to take over the Arkansas football program, Kinne stuck around and was the play caller for the Mustangs in Frisco Bowl for new head coach Sonny Dykes.
Adam Weber – Was in training camp with the Riders in 2014. He was a graduate assistant at his alma mater Minnesota Golden Gophers for the past two seasons before being hired by UCLA as an offensive analyst for the 2018 season.
Dennis Gile – After a couple of season with the Riders, Gile toiled in numerous arena football leagues. He now runs the Dennis Gile Quarterback Academy. Now this may not seem like much, but he has turned himself into a “quarterback whisperer” of sorts. He has helped dozens of quarterbacks make their way to the NCAA and helped refine the skills of many current NFLers like Tom Brady, Drew Brees and Cam Newton.
Rocky Butler - The hero of the 2002 Labour Day Classic for the Saskatchewan Roughriders is the Co-Founder & Quarterback Coach at Position Specific Training at his alma mater, Hofstra University in New York.