Defensive surgeon

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 1:19 PM ET

If Dave Dickenson continues to dissect defensive backs at this rate, he will set some ridiculous CFL records this season.

The $400,000 quarterback with the B.C. Lions is completing passes at a 75.8% rate with seven games remaining in the regular season.

"Usually your (pass completion) goal is the mid-sixties," said Eskimo all-star pivot Ricky Ray. "For him to be up over 70%, let alone be 75%, is pretty crazy. And he has been able to throw the ball down the field, too."

Receiver Jason Clermont - one of Dickenson's favourite targets - is experiencing the magic first- hand. "He really has a great sense of anticipation. A lot of times you will be running a route and the ball will just come out of nowhere - it will just be floating real soft and it will drop right in the spot it needs to," said Clermont.

"Dave is not the tallest guy so you see (the football) come out between two offensive lineman's helmets and it seems to land right in your hands."

The current CFL completion percentage record for a regular season is 66%, which Dickenson has set five different times.

PRETTY UNBELIEVABLE

The personable pivot is also on target to obliterate the all-time pass efficiency rating for a regular season, which is calculated using a variety of stats, including attempts, completions, touchdowns, interceptions, etc. At the moment, Dickenson has a 124.1 rating. In comparison, when Ray led the Eskimos to the 2003 Grey Cup, he had a 108.1 rating.

"Dave's touchdown to interception ratio is pretty unbelievable," continued Ray.

And then the next mind-boggling statistic: Dickenson has thrown just three interceptions this year. Ray has chucked 17 balls to the opposition. Of the full-time starters across the CFL this season, Damon Allen and Anthony Calvillo are the closest to Dickenson with 10 picks.

The B.C. star has yet to fumble the ball in 2005, either.

"That is unheard of," said Ray. "He's not beating himself out there. He's definitely the top quarterback in the league right now."

That statement comes from the quarterback who has thrown for 4,133 yards this season - tops in the league - and is on pace to smash Warren Moon's single-season Edmonton records for completions and passing yards.

But it's hard to disagree with Ray. There is a solid case to suggest Dickenson is the CFL's most outstanding player at the moment, with the Lions at 11-0. However, there is one major problem around Dickenson's remarkable season. Like Ray, he is taking a beating.

TOO MANY HITS

"They both have taken probably too many hits," said Lions head coach Wally Buono of the two signal callers. Entering this week, the B.C. Lions have given up a league-leading 49 sacks this season.

But it's not just the sacks that are causing the problem. It's the punishing hits that aren't recorded.

"When the quarterback throws the ball and he gets blindsided in the back or the side and he goes flying, that hit there is worth 10 sacks," said Buono.

Dickenson has been belted 15 to 20 times in some games this season. He suffered a separated shoulder in mid-August, missing the next game.

Unfortunately for Ottawa, he returned in early September to help put 61 points on the board against the Renegades before beating Montreal last week. But Dickenson was sacked seven times that night. "Some (of the sacks) were my fault, some were coverage sacks," said Dickenson, "and we had some execution errors up front."

The Eskimos sit second in the CFL for most sacks this year. The matchup at the line of scrimmage when B.C. has the ball could be the most important battle of the game today.

AS MUCH HAVOC AS POSSIBLE

"Defensively we have to try and create as much havoc as possible because if Dave gets comfortable back there he is like a surgeon," said Edmonton head coach Danny Maciocia. "He will dissect you."

Just call him Dr. Dave Dickenson, defensive surgeon.

FINISH LINES: The popular school ticket promotion is being offered for this game. Children can redeem a voucher from school for a free ticket at today's game, providing there is a parent alongside.


Videos

Photos