Saskatchewan swap: Riders bench QB Cody Fajardo for Mason Fine ahead of most important game of 2022 season

Photo courtesy: Saskatchewan Roughriders

The Saskatchewan Roughriders are making a change at the quarterback position going into their most important game of the season.

Mason Fine will start at quarterback for the Riders against the Calgary Stampeders on Saturday after practicing with the first-team offence for a second consecutive day, head coach Craig Dickenson revealed after practice.

“We need a spark and we feel like Mason’s done a good job of getting ready and staying ready,” said Dickenson. “We just need to be better on offence. We’re not scoring enough points. We need to score more and that involves all of us but we feel like maybe with a different quarterback we can give teams a little different look and hopefully score a few more points.”

Dickenson indicated that the team “thought long and hard” over last week’s bye to determine who would be the best option at quarterback over the final two weeks of the regular season. They decided to go with Fine, though they wanted to wait until after the first day of practice “to confirm” their decision. He said he expects Fajardo will still see the field in a reduced role.

On Tuesday, Dickenson told the media that he anticipated Fajardo would be the team’s starting quarterback this week. He indicated that Fajardo hadn’t practiced due to a “vet day” and was “not benched” in favour of Fine. This appears to have been done intentionally to mislead the team’s upcoming opponent, though Dickenson denied that on Wednesday.

“Not really because they read the same stuff that you guys put out [in the media], so I’m sure they’ve got a plan for the both of them. But it never hurts if they’ve gotta wait a day to figure it out,” he said.

Fine has dressed for 16 career CFL games, though he has yet to make a start. He has completed 53.6 percent of his career pass attempts for 390 yards, two touchdowns, and three interceptions.

Saskatchewan is currently tied with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats (6-10) for the third and final playoff spot in the East Division, though Hamilton has the tiebreaker by virtue of the crossover rule. The team has clearly grown desperate with little room for error during their upcoming home-and-home series with Calgary.

“We gotta win games, so we’re willing to do anything and everything right now to try to win a couple games and hopefully it’s enough,” said Dickenson. “We don’t know if it’s going to be but we need to find some answers and we need to find them fast.”

The Riders (6-10) will host the Stampeders (10-6) on Saturday with kickoff slated for 7:00 p.m. EDT at Mosaic Stadium. The game could be a must-win for the Riders depending on whether or not the Ticats beat the Ottawa Redblacks on Friday.

Brendan McGuire has covered the CFL since 2006 in radio and print. Based in Regina, he has a front-row view of Rider Nation.