Dustin Crum offers different dynamic for Roughriders’ defence

Saskatchewan Roughriders

Taylor Shire, Regina Leader-Post

There’s a quarterback filling in for an injured starter who has been getting a lot of attention in the CFL.

And it’s not Mason Fine.

After leading the Ottawa Redblacks to two comeback overtime victories in his first two starts, 24-year-old Dustin Crum has been somewhat of a sensation this year, considering he’s the fourth quarterback Ottawa has used this season.

After replacing injured starter Jeremiah Masoli midway through the game in Week 5, Crum led Ottawa to overtime wins against Winnipeg and Calgary, before coming just one good throw away from a third straight victory against Hamilton this past weekend.

So far this season, Crum has thrown for 822 yards and added 346 yards along the ground, proving he can be a dual threat. And that’s something the Saskatchewan Roughriders have to key in on this week, as Crum and the Redblacks visit Mosaic Stadium on Sunday (5 p.m., TSN) in a battle of teams with 3-4 records.

“Crum is a great runner and it’s something that in the CFL, not every week you’re facing a really good running quarterback,” said Riders’ linebacker Micah Teitz.

“When a quarterback runs, they’re considered plus-one on us because we don’t have enough guys to fit all the blocks and everything like that.”

After limiting Chad Kelly and the Toronto Argonauts to just 200 net yards last Saturday in Halifax, Teitz believes the Riders’ defence is more than capable for the task at hand this week.

“If they’re going to dedicate themselves to it, we’ll have a plan for it and we’ll be able to stop it,” said Teitz.

On the other side of the ball, Fine is in somewhat of a similar situation, as the 26-year-old is set to make his third start of the season on Sunday after replacing injured starter Trevor Harris.

And in the past few weeks, watching from afar, Fine has been impressed with what Crum has been able to do.

“As a quarterback, you’re impressed with any young guy that comes in and wins games, especially coming from behind,” said Fine. “It shows how resilient he is; a guy willing to make plays like that.

“He’s doing a great job over there and I wish him the best moving forward, as a quarterback to a quarterback.”

And while there has been good, there’s also been bad with the 6-foot-3, 207-pound Crum, as he was sacked seven times last week against Hamilton. He also threw an interception in the loss.

“Any time you lose, it leaves a sour taste in your mouth,” Crum told Postmedia’s Tim Baines following Ottawa’s practice at TD Place this week. “Having a couple of extra days off to think about it before being able to get out on the practice field again, it drove me a bit crazy on the weekend. You take the good and the bad and try to learn from it and improve so we can have a good game this weekend.”

And it appears the Redblacks’ head coach Bob Dyce — who spent six years as a coach and coordinator in Saskatchewan from 2010 to 2015 — is going to be patient with the Ohio product, who played his college ball at Kent State before coming to the CFL last year.

“He’s had some success early,” Dyce told Baines. “But he’s only played a few games. His path to being a top-level or elite starter in this league will take some time. He’ll develop as he goes. Right now, when he makes the decision to run, he just runs. He has to make sure he keeps his eyes up; things may open up. Teams have to adapt because he’s such a good runner. When he does step up, maybe there’s something he can do to put the ball over the top. He’s going to continue to learn, trust in his reads and I’m super excited to watch him develop.”