Riders Craig Dickenson looks ahead to 2023 on the SportsCage

A new year has arrived, and the Saskatchewan Roughriders are hoping history doesn’t repeat itself in 2023 following a disappointing 2022.

On Tuesday, head coach Craig Dickenson joined Michael Ball on the SportsCage and discussed several items facing the club in the new year.

New Offensive Coordinator, Kelly Jeffrey

One of the significant moves the green and white made before the New Year was hiring Kelly Jeffrey to become the team’s new offensive coordinator. The former running backs coach joined Saskatchewan prior to the 2022 season.

Jeffrey was not a popular name when the Riders began their search for a new offensive coordinator, but Dickenson believes the former Mount Allison head coach will surprise a lot of people this season. He likes the fact Jeffrey has experience both as a head coach and as a play caller prior to arriving in Saskatchewan.

“ I think he might be a little bit of a you know, sort of that sleeper that people didn’t really notice but in the end, might be the best candidate of all, we’re thrilled to have him.”

The Riders head coach added that he wanted to hire the new Riders offensive coordinator two years ago.

Last season as the team’s running backs coach, Dickenson said Jeffrey didn’t have a lot of say in the game planning for the Riders offence and is looking forward to him taking on a bigger role in creating the green and white offensive schemes.

“I think you’re going to see, at least the goal, is a much more collaborative approach and I think you’re going to see his fingerprints all over the offence.”


WR Kian Schaffer-Baker possibly heading south

A new year could mean a new team for receiver Kian Schaffer-Baker. Throughout the offseason, the Canadian has worked out with several NFL teams. On January 9th, teams can begin signing players like Schaffer-Baker and BC Lions QB Nathan Rourke to “future contracts”.

Dickenson feels with Schaffer-Baker working out with at least five or six clubs, there is a good chance that the receiver will be putting his name to a contract soon.

“He’s athletic enough and big enough if they, you know, look at the film and they work him out and he’s moving like he’s capable of, he’s probably going to get a look down there.”

Even though the loss of Saskatchewan’s top receiver last season would create a huge hole in the green and white lineup, the Riders head coach is supporting Schaffer-Baker’s effort to join a team south of the border.


Riders add U of S Huskies QB Mason Nyhus

With Rourke’s outstanding season in BC last season, many Rider fans are hopeful that the success of a local quarterback could happen sometime in Regina down the road.

Earlier this offseason, the Roughriders added University of Saskatchewan Huskies quarterback Mason Nyhus to their negotiation list.

The Regina native was named the Canada West Player of the Year and a Canada West All-Star in 2022 as he led the Huskies to a berth in the Vanier Cup.

Dickenson says the motive behind the transaction with Nyhus was to prevent another team in the Canadian Football League from adding the quarterback to their roster.

“It just gives us the opportunity now this offseason to really to watch a lot of tape of him, let our offensive coordinator, Kelly Jeffrey look at him a little bit more, and then make you know, make a decision going into camp off of that.”


DB Nick Marshall agrees to one year contract extension

Free agency in the CFL is set for February 14, in the leadup to the big day, the Roughriders have been busy taking care of their own players before they begin looking elsewhere.

On December 21, Nick Marshall agreed to a one-year contract extension with Saskatchewan.

There was some doubt that the four-year veteran would rejoin the green and white following a social media controversy stemmed from comments made by Dickenson during the season.

The Riders head coach said he isn’t concerned about the defensive back’s comments. Dickenson feels that Marshall is a tough player and thinks some adjustments to his technique will go a long way to the Riders all-time leader with interceptions returned for touchdowns.

“First off he’s a good player, he’s got tremendous ball skills, now he’s got to improve in a couple of areas, and he knows what he needs to do, we’re going to work hard to try to improve them, he’s got to improve as a tackler, and he knows that.”

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