Dual-threat Riders’ QB Cody Fajardo cracks Ticats defensive code using his legs

Photo courtesy: Saskatchewan Roughriders

Cody Fajardo cracked the code again.

One week after completing his first 15 passes en route to a Saskatchewan Roughrider season-opening win, Fajardo muscled out another 30-point effort on Saturday night. But this time was different: the Rider quarterback did it with his legs.

Fajardo galloped for a robust 9.4 yards per carry on seven rushes for 66 yards and one touchdown in the Riders’ 30-8 victory over the Hamilton Ticats to lift Saskatchewan into an early West Division first-place tie with the 2-0 Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

For much of the night, Fajardo was the Riders’ leading rusher on a pass-happy offence that hasn’t shown much use for its running game or it’s 33-year-old running back William Powell, just yet.

Some Rider fans might’ve cringed watching Fajardo dive head-first on several of his runs, rather than the supposedly safer feet-first slide. However, Fajardo says it’s not a worry for him or his coaches.

“Most of the time when you slide with your feet first, you lose a couple of yards. When you dive head first, they take it where the ball is at, so I think that’s me trying to get every yard that I can. Also, I know if I dive head-first, at least I can see the contact coming and duck under it.”

In the first two weeks of a season when points have come at a premium across the CFL, the Roughriders have piled up a league-leading 62, including two of the three 30-point or better performances so far. Much of this can be credited to the variety of plays shown by new offensive coordinator, Jason Maas.

More than ever that was on display Saturday with Fajardo using the long ball to Shaq Evans and Kyran Moore, 10-to-15-yard outs to Canadians Mitch Picton and Brayden Lenius, and the QB himself along the ground.

Since before the COVID-19 pandemic, Rider fans have been hollering for a much more inventive playbook than what the Roughriders’ previous offensive play-caller, Stephen McAdoo, had shown.

Through two weeks, early returns suggest those in Rider Nation who had called for the change are getting exactly what they wished for and it paying off on the field.