The Saskatchewan Roughriders are now Brett Smith’s team.
The 23-year-old quarterback will start for the green and white on Friday night in Edmonton. The start will be Smith’s first start in professional football.
“We’re going to be behind him 100 per cent and support him. He’s our number-one quarterback this week, so he’s our guy,” said defensive back Terrell Maze.
The good news for Smith and the Riders is they have plenty of experience dealing with new quarterbacks. After Darian Durant suffered a season-ending injury last year, the team worked with Tino Sunseri and Seth Doege before eventually bringing in veteran Kerry Joseph.
With Smith’s start, the team will have used six different quarterbacks since last season’s Banjo Bowl.
“It’s tough. But we’ve been working with these guys all camp and all season. So, we know them. To the outside looking in, it seems like it’s a new guy. But, Brett Smith has been (here) since camp. He’s been grinding and waiting on his opportunity. Who knows? Maybe he’s the next star,” said Maze.
The best thing the defence can do to help Smith out is start making some plays – something they haven’t really done to this point in the season.
Smith is more likely to get some help from his teammates on offence.
“He’s quick. He’s a good player. He can get out on the edge pretty quickly,” said offensive lineman Chris Best.
“I’m excited to see what he can do out there. He’s got a good arm and everything. He knows the play book. He’s just young, he’s not a bad quarterback at all, he’s just young. He needs some experience and he should be good to go.”
The offensive line and the running backs will be the most-important support for Smith in his first career start.
If the Eskimos do as expected, they’ll be coming after Smith and the running backs hard. The pressure will be intense and it will be up to the likes of Best and Jerome Messam to keep Smith and the offence moving.
“You can guess that they’re going to put pressure on the young man,” said offensive coordinator Jacques Chapdelaine.
“But, how is that going to unfold and where is that going to be?”
The best thing going for Smith right now, according to Chapdelaine, is that no one really knows much about Smith. Those situations can make it tough to plan for as perhaps Smith surprises everyone with certain plays.
Chapdelaine had the same advice for Smith that he’s told every quarterback on this team this year.
“Their job is not to go out and think they’re going to win it for us. As a quarterback, their job is to decide who will win it for us,” he said.
The Green Zone 10-hour Game Day begins at 3 p.m. on Friday on News Talk Radio with Game Day with Wray, followed by the Green Zone Pre-Game Show.
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