It was clear as a cloudless day on the prairies to Craig Dickenson.
His players need more work to be game-ready for the season-opener on August 6. That was the main takeaway for Dickenson following the Saskatchewan Roughriders Green and White scrimmage.
“They weren’t ready to play football, that to me was obvious. I think all of us as coaches and football people, if we had to do it all over again, we would have taken that first week and just conditioned them that whole week,” Dickenson said.
“I think sometimes you’re better off just focusing on conditioning and then starting getting into your football. We definitely need to get our legs under us. It’s been a tough camp.”
Dickenson wants the Riders players to be in peak physical shape. After one quarter, the 49-year-old bench boss noticed a lot of “tongues dragging” but he wasn’t surprised considering it was the first live action for athletes in the fast-paced Canadian brand of football since November 2019.
“We tried hard at times, we executed at times, but I thought when we got tired our execution suffered and started seeing guys struggling to get lined up,” Dickenson said.
“That’s going to be one of our main focuses next week: get our conditioning better. It’s hard to do without playing football, but we’ll try to make sure we get something going where we can get their legs back under them.”
Entering the day, Dickenson had planned to shorten the third and fourth quarters, originally set for 10 minutes. Although, he had to cut the frames down even more than anticipated due to fatigue concerns. The pace was even quick for Dickenson and his coaching staff reacclimating to decision-making.
“It’s hectic, that’s one thing you certainly remember when you get those headsets on and clocks moving — everything moves fast,” Dickenson said.
“The scrimmage was good for the players, it was good for me as a coach, it was good for our assistant coaches as well to get back into the flow of it. It’s a very fast game, you don’t get a lot of time to debate or think about what you want to do.”
Saskatchewan doesn’t have a lot of training camp time left to prepare for the upcoming season. Three or four practice days remain until the Riders meet to decide the final roster in the evening on Thursday, July 29.