Calgary Stampeders rookie quarterback Jake Maier looks nothing like a first-year CFLer trying to find his way.
Instead, Maier has shown traits of a seasoned veteran and potential future face of a franchise. He set a Stamps record with 17 consecutive completions despite his team losing 18-16 in Winnipeg in front of 22,806 fans at IG Field.
“There haven’t been a lot of great quarterbacks in Calgary, so that’s probably why he got that record,” head coach Dave Dickenson said with a smile.
“I’m not going to say I’m blind to the scoreboard, so I did know that, but I was just trying to win a football game.”
Arguably the most impressive completion Maier made was his 13th of the summer night in the Manitoba capital. It officially went down as a third-and-two from Calgary’s 23-yard line midway through the second quarter. Dickenson needed extra time to discuss and decide what the Stamps were going to do.
“I took a timeout first off so that I could get my guts going. I wanted it but wasn’t sure, it’s an automatic field goal, probably a touchdown, you probably lose the game if you don’t hit it. You know, we did hit it though and then we fumbled, but it worked like a punt. Josh Huff played a helluva game, kept his head up and kept fighting,” Dickenson said.
“It comes down to coach and he was pretty fired up about it. As we were taking the field, we saw that look in his eye: ‘Hey, let’s go, let’s pull this one out, let’s get this done.’ We completed it, the end result wasn’t what we were looking for but that’s football, that’s competition, it’s how it goes sometimes,” Maier said.
“I had confidence in it. Don’t forget Bo [Levi Mitchell] hit a very similar play I believe in 2012 in the West Final versus B.C. to Mo Price on a third-and-one. Big quarterbacks make those throws and I’ve got those in the room. You keep people guessing at what you’re going to do, you keep trying to throw things out on film and build off it,” Dickenson said.
“I love the aggressiveness, on the road, in a big game, against a good team. We’re here to win, we’re here to go for it. We’re not going to play scared, we’re not going to be timid, we’re not going to have any regret and I’m super joyed that coach Dickenson has that type of faith in me,” Maier said
“It means a ton to me, it really does. It’s the trust that you build and we had that one dialled up for a while — weeks in advance. We were just waiting for the right moment and we felt like that was it. Anytime you do a play where you’re taking a shot like that, you’re thinking in the back of your mind: ‘This could be six.'”
Off play action to his left with running back Ka’Deem Carey, Maier flipped vision to the right, set his feet and delivered a perfect ball to Josh Huff running a deep crossing route. Huff caught the pass in stride but fumbled while being tackled after a 41-yard gain. Even though Calgary didn’t keep the football, the play call displays the level of faith Dickenson has in Maier.
“He looks as good as most guys and I’ve got a lot on his plate. I run a bunch of calls like he’s been out there for 100 games. He handled it well in a tough, tough environment,” Dickenson said.
Maier finished the game going 30-of-39 (76.9 percent) for 307 yards with no touchdowns and zero interceptions. In two straight starts to begin his CFL career, the 24-year-old has produced two 300-yard passing performances.
“You battle test yourself, I love these types of games where they really put it on your shoulders — I can take the credit, I can take the blame,” Maier said.
“I love being battled tested, I love when my teammates get battle tested, I think it just makes us better people, better players, better pros. Whatever it takes to win.”