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REGINA – The Calgary Stampeders will be without their starting quarterback and star running back when they take on the Saskatchewan Roughriders to close out Week 4 action at Mosaic Stadium Saturday.
The Roughriders are coming off a dominant performance over the Toronto Argonauts, picking up their first win of the season in Week 3. It has been a tough start to the year for the Riders, as they lost starting quarterback Zach Collaros on the very first offensive play of the season in Week 1.
Cody Fajardo has taken his place and had a breakout game against the Toronto Argonauts last week. Fajardo passed for over 400 yards and two touchdowns against his former team, earning CFL Top Performer of the Week honours in the process.
“When you’re a backup for so long, you get to see things and you’re not thrown into the fire,” Fajardo told Riderville.com. “Being able to sit behind guys like Ricky Ray and [Travis] Lulay, I’ll say this until the end of my career, those guys really helped me out and helped me stick in this league.”
Fajardo has worked with some of the CFL’s great pivots and was slated to face one in Week 4. However, Bo Levi Mitchell has been ruled out of Saturday’s contest with an upper body injury.
Part of Mitchell’s success can be attributed to his durability – he has missed a single game specifically due to injury during his eight-year CFL career. When Mitchell is not the starter (whether due to injury or earning rest in late-season tilts), the Stampeders are 4-3. Nick Arbuckle, who helped the team to a thrilling comeback against the BC Lions last week, will get the start.
“Arbuckle knows what he’s doing,” Calgary head coach Dave Dickenson told Stampeders.com. “He’s never had to deal with the crowd noise and being on the road, but it’s not like he hasn’t played in big games in college … I think Nick will handle that fine – it’s just the challenge of going up against a great defence.”
Not only is their quarterback out, star running back Don Jackson is also sidelined. Last season’s breakout star has been limited to just 48 yards on 17 carries through Week 3 and will be replaced by Terry Williams in the backfield. Williams is a capable replacement, but has only received one handoff through the first three games this season. Kadeem Carey will also make his Stampeders debut.
“It’s going to be a physical game, we need to be locked into the game plan,” Stampeders receivers coach Pete Costanza told Stampeders.com. “It’s going to be attention to detail, focus and going out and playing one play at a time.”
The Riders will be looking to take advantage of the battered Stampeders. Receivers Kyran Moore and Shaquelle Evans both had 100-yard games versus Toronto – in fact, Moore’s 287 receiving yards is already halfway to his total for all of 2018.
Free agent signing William Powell has also had a nice start to his Riders career at running back, but it was Saskatchewan’s fearsome defence that handed the Stampeders their first loss of the season last year. The Green and White held Calgary to only six first-half points, stunning the then-undefeated Stamps.
Saturday will be the first-ever regular season game that pits two brothers against each other as head coaches. Dave Dickenson is celebrating 10 years as a member of the Stampeders coaching staff in 2019 (he’s been at the helm since 2016), while older brother Craig is in his first season as the boss in Regina.
“Growing up, we had a healthy competitive relationship,” Craig Dickenson told Riderville.com. “Fought a little bit, but we’re very supportive of each other going forward.”
Interestingly, Craig was once on a coaching staff while Dave was still playing. Craig was the special team coordinator in Calgary in 2009 – Dave’s final year as a player. The duo were then on the same staff, with Dave as the running backs coach and Craig still working with the special teams for the Stamps.
Expect Great Falls, Mont., the brothers’ hometown, to tune in with vested interest on Saturday.
BY THE NUMBERS
1 – Game Bo Levi Mitchell has spent on the injured list in his CFL career. That came back in 2014.
122.8 – Cody Fajardo’s Pass Efficiency Rating, the highest in the CFL.
30 – Multi-sack games for Charleston Hughes. He’ll be looking for No. 31 against his former team.
21 – Deficit the Stamps came back from against the Lions last week, making it the fifth-largest comeback in franchise history.
Kickoff is at 10:00 p.m. ET and can be seen on TSN and ESPN+ and followed live via CFL.ca Game Tracker.
– With files from Riderville.com and Stampeders.com.