Craig Dickenson: Riders’ discipline ‘not good enough’ in preseason win over B.C. Lions

Photo courtesy: Electric Umbrella/Liam Richards/Saskatchewan Roughriders

Saskatchewan Roughriders’ head coach Craig Dickenson wasn’t happy with his team’s lack of discipline during their 30-27 preseason victory over the B.C. Lions on Saturday.

“(Our discipline was) not good enough. Too many (penalties) again. We’re going to work hard at it and the accountability starts immediately after the game, I had a visit with them. I feel like penalties are a result of either you’re just not winning your matchup and/or you’re just being selfish and not putting the needs of the team ahead of yourself, so we’ll keep working on it,” Dickenson told the media in Regina.

“The goal is to be the least-penalized, most-physical team in the league. We’re certainly a long ways from there but we’re going to keep harping on it and if a guy continues to take penalties, that’s going to affect his ability to stay on the team.”

The Riders took seven penalties for 88 yards against the Lions, including three unnecessary roughness penalties, three holding penalties, and a face masking call. There were also three additional penalties that B.C. declined, including illegal contact, defensive pass interference, and holding.

Discipline was a major issue for the club last season as they took a league-worst 173 penalties, which was 14 more than any other team in the CFL. Penalties were one of the reasons the club finished the season with a 6-12 record and missed the playoffs for the first time since 2016.

The Lions took seven penalties on Saturday, though the infractions cost them only 40 yards. Last season, CFL teams averaged 8.1 penalties for 72.5 yards per game over the course of the regular season.

One area in which the Riders showed improvement was along the offensive line as the unit allowed zero sacks despite their three quarterbacks attempting a combined 41 passes.

“I was happy with them, we played hard,” said Dickenson. “We had one holding (penalty) I think, didn’t have a lot of pre-snap penalties, so overall pretty happy. I think (offensive line) coach (Anthony) Vitale is doing a good job with that group.”

Saskatchewan allowed a league-worst 77 sacks in 2022 and elected not to extend the contract of offensive line coach Stephen Sorrells. Sorrells has since been hired