The good, the bad, and the dumb of the Riders’ preseason win over B.C.

Photo courtesy: Saskatchewan Roughriders

A regular season football game nearly broke out at Mosaic Stadium on Saturday afternoon, as the Riders opened their 2023 preseason against the B.C. Lions.

Ultimately, it was a come-from-behind 30-27 win for the home team. As far as preseason games go, this one wasn’t the worst to watch, especially in the second half.

The win is the first for the Riders in the preseason since 2014 and their first home preseason win since 2011. An agonizing streak that everyone was very concerned about, I know.

Ok, maybe not.

Nonetheless, the game happened and we learned a few things about this year’s edition of the green and white. Some good, some bad.

Perhaps most importantly, the game ended just as a storm rolled into Regina, avoiding a likely weather delay.

Here’s the good, the bad, and the dumb of the Riders’ preseason win over the Lions.

The Good

Should Trevor Harris be sweating a little bit? He was the only Riders quarterback not to throw or run for a touchdown against the Lions.

Obviously, Harris’ job is safe but for the first time in a few years, the Riders might actually have something going behind their starting pivot.

Not since they brought in Kevin Glenn as insurance behind Darian Durant have the Riders had a solid backup quarterback. Yes, Glenn ended up being forced into action very quickly but that was still the theory behind the move.

There’s still a long way to go before we can safely say that head coach Craig Dickenson has himself a reliable backup for Harris, but I’m saying there’s a chance.

As the final gun sounded, Jake Dolegala, Shea Patterson, and Mason Fine were a combined 24-for-41 for 284 yards, three touchdown passes, one rushing touchdown, and one interception.

Not mindblowing numbers, but a pretty solid game if all of those numbers were put together by one guy.

Individually, Dolegala — who started — was 12-for-17 for 97 yards and a rushing touchdown. Patterson went 10-for-14 for 77 yards and a touchdown, and Fine wrapped up the game with 110 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception.

Dolegala definitely looked the part with some nice throws, Patterson looked like a guy still learning the CFL game but improved, and Fine recovered nicely following an interception on his first attempt of the game.

Coming into the game, it felt like Dolegala had the inside track to the spot behind Harris. It certainly feels like he’s still in the lead, but neither Fine nor Patterson is completely out of the race either.

Perhaps one of the biggest reasons that all three pivots had their moments was that none of them were sacked all game. Something of a win in and of itself, and something you definitely couldn’t have said in 2022.

The Bad

One of the biggest problems for the Roughriders in 2022 was their discipline.

The Riders struggled significantly when it came to penalties. It not only hurt them on the field, it ultimately defined them as a group and was a big part of their downfall.

So naturally, discipline has been a conversation at training camp. It’s an issue that head coach Craig Dickenson has vowed to fix and it’s one he’ll have to if he is to earn himself a contract extension.

If this first game was any indication, Dickenson still has some work to do.

In total, the Riders were flagged seven times for 88 yards, including three unnecessary roughness calls and one facemask. The Lions also declined three more Rider infractions.

It wasn’t the worst disciplinary performance from this team, but it wasn’t the most encouraging either.

The Dumb

It’s always a fun night when you get to dig deep into the rule book.

We got the pleasure of seeing both teams flagged for rarely-called penalties. Riders’ DB Nelson Lokombo was called for accidental pass interference and later the Lions were flagged for pyramiding on a Kaare Vedvik field goal attempt. The penalty was accepted and it ended up leading to a Rider touchdown, but it’s also kind of sad that what is likely Vedvik’s only field goal of the year was wiped off the scoresheet.

Also, a shoutout to the person during one of the commercial breaks who was asked to name where a notable landmark in the province was to win a prize and said Moosomin when Mac the Moose was displayed on the scoreboard.

Alas, Mac is in Moose Jaw, and Piffles Podcast co-host Greg McCulloch remains one of Moosomin’s most notable figures.

Joel Gasson is a Regina-based sports writer, broadcaster and football fanatic. He is also a beer aficionado.