Rookie Canadian offensive lineman Logan Bandy will step in as the starting centre for the Saskatchewan Roughriders when the team travels to Montreal in Week 3.
The Calgary native is getting the first CFL start of his career which will fill the void Dan Clark left after going down with a fractured fibula in the Riders’ Week 2 win in Edmonton. It’s a bittersweet start for the University of Calgary product who said the opportunity is “super exciting” but to see Clark suffer a setback was “heartbreaking.”
“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime moment, you only have your first start once so I’m gonna go out and play for him and communicate with the guys and do my best,” said Bandy to 980 CJME reporter Britton Gray.
Bandy has dressed for both of Saskatchewan’s regular season games this year and stepped in for Clark to finish the fourth quarter during Saturday’s game after the Riders veteran left the field in pain.
“I would say Dan’s my biggest role model on the team, just the way that he’s had his whole career in front of him and the way that he came up to be the player that he is. His impact on me has really affected my play and the way I see the field for sure.”
Head coach Craig Dickenson believes the six-foot-five, 285-pound o-lineman has “progressed” this year and had a really good training camp. With only one practice under his belt this week, however, Dickenson doesn’t see the short week as an advantage for the rookie but notes the hard work he has put in so far this season and that he is a smart player.
“I think we’ll miss some of Dan’s leadership and passion,” said Dickenson. “He’s a tough guy, he brings a lot of that toughness to the field but Bandy, he’s no slouch and I’m really excited to see him play — I think he’s gonna do great.”
There were predictions left guard Logan Ferland or right guard Evan Johnson would step in at centre, but Dickenson believes one change right now is better than two.
“Always how it works is the centre is the new big dog, so that’ll be Bandy,” said Ferland. “He’s the new big dog and we’re all looking up to him, but we also have his back. We’re five guys on the field or six if we’re in any big personnel and acting as one.”
Dickenson went on to say that centre is like the quarterback of the offensive line, Bandy will have to communicate and identify a lot on the defensive front, but he seems ready for the challenge.
“I think my biggest attribute is my confidence,” said Bandy to 620 CKRM radio play-by-play man Michael Ball. “I’m sufficient and I’m confident that I am going to play well and I know the guys around me got me. I’m excited to go out there and be physical.”
The change will be significant for quarterback Cody Fajardo, all 31 of his starts with the Riders have been with Clark at centre. Fajardo said the transition is “extremely tough” on a short week but he has confidence in Bandy.
“There’s a reason why we drafted him, there’s a reason why he stayed in the building and there’s the reason why we kept him through training camp is because we have faith in him,” said Fajardo.
“To tell you the truth, all the guys in the offensive line room, the quarterback room, the receiver room, we all have faith in our offensive line. We have some depth at the offensive line position, something we didn’t have last year. So it’s fortunate enough, we’ve had the depth I just didn’t want to see it this early.”
Bandy attended training camp with the Roughriders in 2021 after being selected in the fifth round, 38th overall during the 2021 CFL Draft. He went back to school for his final year of eligibility and played centre before returning to the Riders this season. He finished his five-year collegiate career playing 29 games and being named a Canada West All-Star three times, and a U Sports All-Canadian once.