Big mistake

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Saskatchewan Roughriders refuse to start Cole Bergquist in a meaningless game

Ed Kapp
Sports Writer

With the playoffs officially out of reach and Darian Durant officially out of commission, the Saskatchewan Roughriders should have started Cole Bergquist, the squad’s third-string signal caller, in at least one of the final two games during the 2011 CFL campaign.

Instead of putting Bergquist under centre, the Roughriders opted to go with Ryan Dinwiddie, who has served as the Green and White’s second-string passer for the duration of the past two seasons. To the surprise of many, Bergquist sporadically replaced Dinwiddie at quarterback for a play or two at a time during the team’s final two games.

Dinwiddie, 29, first caught the attention of many in the world of Canadian football when he replaced the injured Kevin Glenn for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in the team’s 2007 Grey Cup contest against the Roughriders.

Although Dinwiddie struggled in the championship game – throwing three interceptions in a narrow loss to Saskatchewan – the former Boise State quarterback was new to the Canadian game and was relatively unprepared to take the reins of a professional team north of the border. Since then, Dinwiddie has had the opportunity to learn the intricacies of the game from the sidelines, and until recently was viewed by most as a competent CFL football player.

You could argue that Dinwiddie, the more experienced of the two signal callers, gave the Roughriders the better chance to take home a victory, which would be the primary objective of every organization under normal circumstances. However, the Riders had been officially eliminated from postseason contention with a pair of games still to be played.   

Of course it’s great to win, but because the Roughriders were eliminated from the playoffs before the end of the season; the team should have used that time – “garbage time,” some would call it – to get a better idea of what their younger, less-experienced players bring to the table.

Bergquist, one of the team’s biggest questions marks, should have gotten an opportunity to show the world what he can do in the Canadian game.    

Back in 2007, Berquist was new in the CFL and arrived in Saskatchewan amidst much fanfare.

During his time at Montana State University, Bergquist earned all-conference honours twice, but failed to take a snap during his first two seasons with the Green and White.

Many in Rider Nation – especially after watching videos like “U of Montana QB Cole Bergquist Highlight Film” on YouTube – have hoped that Bergquist would get an opportunity to at least take a few snaps with the Roughriders.

“Reminds me of Randall Cuningham, gun for an arm and the feet of a legend,” wrote YouTube commenter Kelbale.

“Well the Riders are stupid to not go with Cole for the rest of the year. A George Reed with an arm,” Bigchuckers, another commenter, opined.

By starting Bergquist, 25, the team’s coaching staff and front office could have gotten an opportunity to see what one of the team’s most inexperienced players, brings to the table.

Had the Roughriders started Bergquist, the worst-case scenario for Rider Nation would be that he would go on to play poorly and the team would perhaps fail to win a largely meaningless game, but this would give the team’s coaching staff an idea of where and how he may fit into the future plans of the organization.

Although Dinwiddie hasn’t started a game in the CFL for quite some time, he has served in a relief role for Durant whenever Durant is injured or when the game is too far out of reach.

Unlike Bergquist, the Roughriders must have a pretty good idea of what Dinwiddie, who threw over 10 passes on four different occasions this season, is capable accomplishing of on the gridiron.

Dinwiddie, for the most part, has struggled during his time on the field with the Roughriders. While putting a player in for relief or during “garbage time” isn’t the best way to see what he can bring to the table, mostly everyone knows what Dinwiddie is capable of at this point in his career.

After only being given sporadic snaps in two games with no real opportunity to string together plays and make an impact, nobody really has a fair grasp of what Berqguist has to offer.

By not giving Berqguist an adequate opportunity to showcase his skills – for the third-straight campaign – there is still a question mark hanging over the young quarterback’s head and thus a question mark hanging over the team’s future plans at quarterback.

With wins and losses irrelevant in a lost season, the Roughriders made a big mistake in not giving Berqguist a fair shot.

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