Former Riders QB Marcus Crandell making impact as coach in Saskatchewan

Marcus Crandell was selling insurance in St. Albert, Alberta when Scott Flory linked up on LinkedIn.

A former Saskatchewan Roughriders quarterback, Crandell joined the Riders coaching staff under Ken Miller in 2009, then moved onto stints with the Edmonton Eskimos and Ottawa Redblacks. But for the last two years, Crandell has been far from the sidelines working for Sun Life Financial.

Until Flory called.

The first-year University of Saskatchewan head coach was looking for an offensive coordinator to complete his staff and felt Crandell, who spent 11-years in the CFL, would be a perfect fit. Flory, an offensive lineman with the Montreal Alouettes for 14 seasons, had played against Crandell and knew him by reputation.

“Brotherhood of the CFL,” Crandell says.

The 43-year-old Charlotte, North Carolina native wasn’t actively seeking out a coaching job, but he talked with Flory, thought it through and decided to get back into football.

“He does a good job with the offensive line and run game,” Crandell says of Flory. “He wanted to learn more about the passing game and get more experience and have some one come in and help out.”

Saskatchewan wanted to focus on improving the quarterbacks on the Huskies roster and if game one was any indication, Crandell has already had an impact.

Starter Kyle Siemens completed 31-of-40 passes for 419 yards and four touchdowns without turning the ball over in a 44-point performance from Saskatchewan that resulted in a victory.

“Our quarterback play progressed throughout training camp,” Flory says. “We’re very happy with Marcus and what he’s doing.”

Crandell has added to his offensive playbook since his last coaching job.

“You always have to be innovative in the game of football, especially in the Canadian style of play where everyone is moving around. You have to use it to your advantage,” the two-time Grey Cup champion and 2001 Grey Cup MVP says.

One of those CFL titles was won with the Riders in 2007 and Crandell spent his final four CFL seasons in Saskatchewan, which gives him name recognition in the province that can be beneficial in recruiting.

“You would think [it helps],” Crandell says with a smile.

Saskatchewan’s staff is stacked with CFL experience. Flory, a Huskies grad who won two Vanier Cups, played 15 seasons – all with the Alouettes – and won three Grey Cups. Defensive coordinator Warren Muzika played with Flory at the University of Saskatchewan as a linebacker and spent five seasons in the CFL, winning a Grey Cup with Hamilton in 1999. Special teams coordinator Jerry Friesen has nine seasons of CFL playing experience at linebacker. Offensive assistant Duane Dmytryshyn was a CFL receiver for eight seasons and was on the dominant Argos teams in 1996 and 1997 that won back-to-back Grey Cups. Defensive assistant Paul Woldu won three Grey Cups – two with Flory in Montreal and one with the Riders over nine seasons. That’s 57 years of CFL experience combined.

“Scott is changing the culture. He’s doing some things that haven’t been done at the U of S before,” Crandell says.

Crandell was the last piece to the Huskies staff and even though he’s got a licence to sell insurance in Saskatchewan too, coaching is what he’s focused on.

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