In another “Only In Saskatchewan” scenario, back-up Roughrider quarterback Bryan Bennett has become something of an overnight sensation in the Wheat Province after being the star of Saturday’s mock game at SMF Field.
Radio deejays across the province have already built the 25-year old product of Tarzana, CA into something of a demi-god after he threw three touchdown passes in the annual Green & White Scrimmage.
And it hasn’t taken long for women to swoon over Bennett’s rugged good looks, or gossip over the sleeve of tattoos down his left arm. His name has become one of the “top searched” on Google in Saskatchewan over the past 72 hours.
However the habitually stern Head Coach of the Roughriders, Chris Jones, isn’t prepared to map out Bennett’s road to the Plaza of Honour just yet.
“He threw two balls to the wrong team, I know that,” Jones said Monday of Bennett’s performance on the weekend. “So he’s got to take care of the football. He’s got tremendous athletic ability, he’s got a tremendous arm, he fit the ball into some very tight windows, so it’s going to be interesting to see when we play somebody in a different coloured jersey.”
The 6’2″, 211 lb pivot was pleased with his performance on Saturday, but knows he’s got a long ways to go to challenge for the #1 job.
“I felt good throwing the ball,” Bennett said of Saturdays game. “I was able to throw some accurate passes which I was happy about. The only time I got in trouble was not taking what (the defense) gave me. You’ve just got to be disciplined every time and keep taking what they give you and let everything fall into place.”
Fellow back-up quarterback Vince Young was next up to meet with reporters after Monday’s rainy workout at Griffiths Stadium, and he bristled at some of their criticism over his play in the first week of training camp.
“I don’t feel like I’m struggling. Probably to you it is,” Young shrugged. “I feel like we’re all learning right now. That’s what camp is for … continuing to take it one day at a time, do what you can, take it to the film room and learn from your mistakes and get ready for the next day.”
CKRM football analyst Luc Mullinder said on Monday that any frustration Young’s feeling regarding the microscope on his play is understandable. From Day 1 of training camp, Vince has said he’s here to be a football player rather than a celebrity. He just wants to be “one of the guys”, but the fact is he’s one of the biggest names in the game. It’s clear that’s something he’s a tad uncomfortable with, which speaks to his humility as a person.
There are still plenty of training camp days lined up before Saturday’s home preseason clash with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers at new Mosaic Stadium, but Young admitted they’re already looking forward to that.
“I’m definitely looking forward to looking into our opponents,” Young offered. “I’m really tired of looking at Coach Jones’ defense right now! I’m looking forward to that. You always get tired in camp of looking at your guys and you’re ready to go compete without the coaches on the field and see how you respond.”
As yet, the club seems nowhere ready to determine a playing rotation for Saturday’s game at any position. That includes the quarterbacks, and veteran Kevin Glenn said right now he has no idea if he’ll suit up against the Blue Bombers.
“I always want to play but I understand the process so if it happens that I don’t play, I’m not going to be upset and slamming my helmet,” Glenn smiled. “I always want to play, I’ve never been one to want to sit out but I understand what has to happen.”
I’ve been giddily excited over the “first-ever” Roughriders game in the new stadium ever since the first shovel went in the ground at Evraz Place in 2014 but Glenn put it into perspective.
“It would be cool (to play) but at the same time it’s still a preseason game,” Glenn admitted. “I don’t think anyone would ever remember the first preseason game, but the first regular season game there is going to be a big one.”
As far as Monday’s practice went, the workout was staged in a mild drizzle and Chris Jones said his troops were a little sluggish after getting the day off on Sunday.
“I thought it was a little bit sloppy, especially early on,” Jones revealed. “We’ve had one big wind day and now one rain day and both days were a little bit sloppy. We’ve got to understand that when we play up here in Canada, we’ve got the elements to deal with and we’ve gotta come out everyday ready to play.
“The one thing I did like was that the spirit and the energy were there. It was just a little bit sloppy with execution.”
The Riders are back on the field Tuesday at 9:00 am at Griffiths Stadium.