Trevor Harris is excited to be part of a brand new offensive attack as training camp gets underway with the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
“It’s an entirely new offence in personnel as well as scheme. The scheme’s very, very different, so timing’s always gonna be different, spacing and all that stuff. It’s gonna be a lot of fun, you can just really feel the potential out here. I’ve been around this league for quite a while and this group’s got me fired up,” Harris told the media at training camp.
Kelly Jeffrey was hired as the club’s new offensive coordinator after Jason Maas was fired following the 2022 season. Jeffrey served as the team’s running backs coach last year and it appears as though the new scheme will have more of a focus on running the football, a change that should help take some pressure off an offensive line that struggled to protect the quarterback last season.
“It’s always fun to get those first few reps with running a new offence and new scheme and getting the timing with the guys down,” said Harris. “It’s a lot of fun, you can see and feel the potential out there, the almost big plays that were happening. Those are the things that you really iron out as camp goes on. We’ve got a tremendous group, I’m excited.”
Jeffrey has previous experience as a head coach, offensive coordinator, and quarterbacks coach in U Sports but has never run an offence before in the CFL. The Riders could have an early-season advantage on offence as opposing teams don’t know what to expect before they have film on Jeffrey’s play-calling and scheme.
Harris has previous experience with receivers Jake Wieneke and Derel Walker and spoke glowingly about some of the team’s other targets. He praised the speed of Samuel Emilus, Mitchell Picton’s ability to track the football, and called Shawn Bane “a candidate for breakout player of the year.” He also believes that big-bodied Canadian target Brayden Lenius has untapped potential at slotback.
When it comes to leadership, Harris isn’t trying to be anyone other than himself after taking over as the new face of the franchise on the prairies.
“I think it’s just about being the same guy every day. I think a lot of times in leadership people try and emulate what Tom Brady does or try and emulate Lamar Jackson or Jalen Hurts, the great leaders of today. But really what it comes down to is being yourself, so if you’re not authentic, people see through that,” he said.
“It’s one of those things that just happens over time, you’ve got to just continue to press on and be who you are every single day because if you’re not, then it comes off as phony.”
Harris wasted no time connecting with his new teammates long before they arrived in Saskatoon together. His new centre, Peter Godber, is working to ensure he and Harris communicate effectively to help the offence run at a high level.
“You’ve gotta make sure you’re on the same page with the snap counts and the cadence and how he wants to call things,” said Godber. “Trevor reached out a few times throughout the off-season. We’ve been in touch and we’ve hung out the last few weeks, so it feels like we’re already hitting the ground running because of that early start to our relationship.”
While it’s clear that Harris will be the team’s starting quarterback, Dickenson characterized the competition for the backup spot as “wide open.” Former NFL quarterback Jake Dolegala is returning for his second season with the team, while Mason Fine, who started two games late last year, is back for his third.
“[Jake] can sling it. He can really throw the ball and he came into camp in good shape, too,” said Dickenson. “You can tell he’s very serious about coming in and competing for playing time.”