The Saskatchewan Roughriders remained tight-lipped on Thursday as to who would be their starting quarterback come Sunday evening.
On Friday, though, following a closed practice, that all changed. (new paragraph)
Head Coach Craig Dickenson has confirmed that 25-year-old Jake Dolegala would make his first career CFL start in the grudge match against the Toronto Argonauts.
“I would say we’re not sure, but I don’t think anyone would believe me,” Dickenson chuckled.
“So yes, Jake will be our starter.”
The third-string quarterback gets his first opportunity as a starting signal caller, as both Cody Fajardo and Mason Fine deal with injuries and illnesses.
In his media availability on Thursday, Dolegala expressed an excitement and desire to earn his first career start.
On a scale of 1-10 his confidence was high.
“Ten… why not?” the quarterback grinned.
“It’s a dream to start at a professional level, so it’ll be very cool,” he continued. “You know, I’m just looking forward to the opportunity.”
The team held only its second practice of the week Friday, as many players deal with COVID-19 and injuries.
Over those two days Dolegala has done enough on the field to earn his head coach’s trust as the team looks to bounce back after losing to these same Toronto Argonauts a week ago.
“I thought the coaches on offence did a good job of taking our package and simplifying it a little bit so that Jake felt a little more comfortable calling it and conversely, the offensive guys felt more comfortable running it,” Dickenson explained. “Jake looked a lot better today than he did yesterday, I think he’ll look better tomorrow than he did today.”
His receiving core has begun to gain chemistry with the newly minted starter, something that will be of the utmost importance come game time Sunday.
Dolegala’s playing style does differ from regular starting quarterback Cody Fajardo, something that has taken a little adjustment by his receivers.
“I’d say that Dolegala’s got more zip on the ball and Cody’s got more touch to it,” rookie receiver Samuel Emilus said. “But, at the end of the day my job is to catch, it’s the same for me.”
The 25-year-old played college football at Central Connecticut, and signed with the Cincinnati Bengals as an undrafted free agent in 2019.
After being a member of five NFL practice squads from 2020-2021, Dolegala headed north where he signed with the Saskatchewan Roughriders, the team with whom he’ll now make his first career start as a pro.