With the lights on and a full week of true reps with the starting offence under his belt, Saskatchewan Roughriders’ quarterback Jake Dolegala passed his test with flying colours at Mosaic Stadium on Sunday night.
In the face of Dave Naylor’s assertion that tall quarterbacks haven’t been a fit for the CFL, the six-foot-seven pivot fit Saskatchewan’s offence like a glove and connected with his receivers for no less than three touchdown passes.
In a league that has prided itself as the ultimate safe haven for athletic and under-sized quarterbacks for generations, Dolegala suggested to the 27,483 in attendance for Saskatchewan’s 34-29 win over the B.C. Lions that maybe, just maybe, being bigger can in fact be better north of the border, too.
In his postgame moment of glory after up-staging an opposing quarterback, Vernon Adams Jr, who had just thrown for 455 yards, Dolegala insisted he never used the TSN piece as motivation.
“I did not see the piece and don’t really care,” Dolegala said, all too happy to throw it back at any detractors who doubted him after his struggles in Montreal nine days earlier.
He also wasn’t shy to point out that although it was his second career start, it was his first chance to actually have the first-team reps in practice leading up to a game.
“It was huge. I think it showed out there.”
The first of three touchdown hookups went to Kian Schaffer-Baker, who took a grand total of 114 seconds to haul in a touchdown pass from his new gigantic quarterback after missing half a season from injury.
“He (Dolegala) is that guy! He is that dude now!” Schaffer-Baker said. “The best in the league and he’s going to continue to work and keep chasing it.”
That’s some pretty high praise from a star teammate after one career victory as a starting quarterback. It might sound a bit over-the-top to some but KSB can be forgiven for feeling such an emotional high after the Riders’ best offensive output of the season.
Winning head coach Craig Dickenson was a bit more measured in his praise of his third-stringer-turned-starting-QB but was also impressed.
“(Dolegala) started really fast,” Dickenson said. “Managed the game extremely well. Moved when he needed to. I felt like at the end, he got a little nervous like we all did there and I think we made a few mistakes that we can correct.”
“But I’m really proud of Jake. I thought he played an outstanding game.”
Even Anthony Lanier, who probably had more to do with the Riders’ biggest win of the year than anyone else, was grateful for the support he got from his quarterback on this night.
“He’s a quarterback,” Lanier said. “He’s a wonderful quarterback. And today he got out there and did his job well.”
So, what exactly are the implications of it all? What does it really mean for the Riders season, Jake Dolegala, or giant-sized quarterbacks in general? It’s too early to say.
But Sunday’s win over one of the top dogs in the CFL West has pulled Saskatchewan back up to .500 and may have saved their season, making the view for taller prospects a whole lot brighter.