Bo Levi Mitchell kept reiterating a simple message to rookie quarterback Jake Maier.
“He kept telling me: ‘Trust my eyes and let it rip. Let it fly 12, no regrets — keep slinging it.’
Those were the words of encouragement from a proven gunslinger to a young man trying to prove himself. Maier did enough while the defence played a key role in the 24-year-old earning a win in his first career CFL start, 28-22 against the Montreal Alouettes.
“Every time I came off the field he had a smile on his face. He felt confident and that really rubbed off on me. He was the ultimate teammate,” Maier said post-game regarding Mitchell’s presence on the sideline.
“He’s got a very powerful voice in this locker room and on this team. He was like a big brother for me and I told him how much I appreciate him for that. It was just keeping me grounded, keeping me confident.”
Maier bounced back from two first quarter interceptions to complete 16-of-29 passes (55 percent) for 304 yards and his first ever touchdown pass in Canada, Kamar Jorden was on the receiving end. It was the most passing yards by a Stampeders QB in their first career CFL start since Mitchell (376) on July 26, 2013.
“The speed of the game is a lot faster, there’s really nothing you can simulate to prepare for that until you just go out and do it,” Maier said.
In October 2018, Maier was added to the Stamps’ exclusive 45-man negotiation list, he later inked a contract with Calgary in May 2020. Maier prepared for the fast-paced Canadian style of football, knowing he needed to move in and out of the huddle quickly and be able to make split-second decisions.
“I know he played better than I did back in my first start, I got whooped by the Argos. As a first start, that’s pretty impressive, a lot to like,” Dickenson said noting he called an aggressive game offensively with the rookie behind centre.
“He enjoys the moment, he enjoys the spotlight — both those guys [Bo and Jake] want to be the guy, that’s how the best quarterbacks are, but you gotta go prove it. Jake’s his own man, he’s confident, he has a future, he’s a good player.”
The protege is well aware of his mentors impressive career in Canada. Dickenson won a CFL MOP award in 2000, earned Grey MVP in 2006 and was part of three CFL championship teams as a player. He played 143 CFL games producing 22,913 yards with 154 touchdowns versus 50 interceptions while completing 67.5 percent of his passes.
“He hasn’t shown me any of his film, yet, but I do know how great of a player he was,” Maier, who was given the game ball by his head coach, said.
“I’m flattered, I have so much respect for coach Dickenson and his playing career. I know how much he believes in me and I appreciate that.”