For the eighth straight year, the Saskatchewan Roughriders will be facing a different quarterback in the Banjo Bowl.
Winnipeg Blue Bombers starting quarterback Drew Willy is still recovering from a knee injury. That means the Bombers new pivot will be Matt Nichols, who was just acquired by the team a week ago.
“He’s a good player. He has a strong arm and quick release,” said linebacker Jeff Knox Jr.
Nichols will bring something that no other pivot on the Bombers depth chart can bring right now – experience.
The California native joined the Eskimos in 2012. Before the 2013 season, Nichols might have actually had the inside trade to being Edmonton’s starting quarterback before an injury in the pre-season ended his year, handing the job to Mike Reilly.
Other than some more time on the injured list, Nichols has served as Reilly’s backup the last few years.
“He’s an experience quarterback. He definitely as some skills,” said defensive coordinator Greg Quick.
“The most-important thing I think it brings is an experienced starter. This is a big ball game for everybody. There’s going to be a lot of excitement. He’s going to be able to handle that. So, we got to be ready to have a quarterback that’s a real pro.”
The Riders have already seen Nichols once this year as he started for the Eskimos when Edmonton beat the Riders 30-5 on Aug. 31.
In order to prepare for this game, the coaching staff will not only have to watch the Bombers offence but also study Nichols work as the Eskimos quarterback.
“(Nichols) will almost be a calming effect on their offence. He’s stepping into a situation where he’s looked going to be looked to, to be a leader. I expect no less of him,” said Dyce.
Since 2008, the Bombers have started the following quarterbacks in the Banjo Bowl:
- 2008: Kevin Glenn
- 2009: Michael Bishop
- 2010: Steven Jyles
- 2011: Buck Pierce
- 2012: Joey Elliott
- 2013: Justin Goltz
- 2014: Drew Willy
- 2015: Matt Nichols
It was a scary scene at practice on Thursday when safety Matt Webster and receiver Devin Wilson collided.
Wilson would remain down for several minutes before leaving for the day.
A few minutes later, Dyce had to stop practice to send a message to his team.
“We have a good understanding when a player is in position,” he said.
“We have to remember these are our teammates. We have to practice smart.”
Wilson is now going through the CFL’s concussions protocol.