CALGARY - Rookie mistakes? Yeah, he made a few.
Now entering his second season as the Calgary Stampeders’ offensive co-ordinator and play-caller, longtime CFL signal-caller Dave Dickenson isn’t promising perfection this year, either.
“As a veteran coach or a veteran quarterback, training camp gives you a chance to work out some of your mistakes,” Dickenson said. “And you’re going to make them during the season, too. But
I never came into any camp as a player or now as a coach not expecting to make a mistake. You’re hoping to learn from that and get better.”
Just three years removed from his quarterbacking career and eligible to enter the Canadian Football Hall of Fame later this summer, Dickenson doesn’t mind logging long hours at training camp.
He’s been tutoring the quarterbacks, offering encouragement for the receivers and running backs and keeping an eye on the progress of an overhauled offensive line.
While the combatants emerge from two-a-day sessions with ice packs wrapped around their bodies, Dickenson is trying to get their hands wrapped around Calgary’s playbook.
“I like training camp as a coach. The gruelling part is the couple of months leading up to it — what you’re going to put in, how you’re going to install, what plays you want to run …” Dickenson said. “We don’t really have it hard in training camp as a coach. For me, camp is fun as a coach, and I liked it as a player. For a quarterback, it wasn’t that gruelling, either. It’s a mental grind, but for a lot of these guys, the physical grind is the thing. It’s not too often you’ll go from seven in the morning to 10 at night.”
There’s no doubt Dickenson’s first play-calling campaign was a success.
The Stamps led the eight-team circuit in touchdowns, first downs and total offensive yards.
Three guys — Romby Bryant, Nik Lewis and Ken-Yon Rambo — cracked quadruple digits in receiving yards.
Joffrey Reynolds posted his sixth consecutive 1,000-yard season on the ground.
Star quarterback Henry Burris translated 4,945 passing yards and a league-leading 38 touchdown strikes into the CFL’s Most Outstanding Player nod.
For opposing defences, the scary thing is Dickenson is becoming much more comfortable in his role. And the players are feeling the increased comfort level, too.
“He’s doing great things with us here, and that’s why guys respect him as much as we do,” Burris said. “Knowing him as a quarterback from back in the day and him helping me grow into who I am today and then having him now, it allows us to be on the same page, same accord … To see Dave grow to where he is today, that’s something I fully expected. I expected him to continue to grow and be that excellent offensive co-ordinator he has become.
“With the talent that we have, we know he has that mindset — along with the rest of our coaching staff — to put our guys in great position to make plays. That’s all you can ask for.”