After waiting all season to get his chance, Roughriders safety Keenan MacDougall made the most of his opportunity to start against the Eskimos.
On a day when the defence was again below average at best, the former University of Saskatchewan Huskie stood out as one of the team’s better defenders in the 35-24 loss at Mosaic Stadium.
“Looking at film there’s some good things, there’s some not so good things,” he said.
“Still some definite improvements to make for this week, but it was good to get out there and show what I could do in a live game.”
MacDougall was signed in the offseason by the Riders to potentially be the team’s starting safety. However, it seemed under previous head coach Corey Chamblin, MacDougall was unlikely to get that chance because Chamblin preferred to have an American at that position.
MacDougall practiced at safety at times during training camp but he also played some linebacker as well – a similar transition Chamblin forced upon now Hamilton Tiger-Cats safety Craig Butler during the 2013 season in Saskatchewan.
What made matters worse for MacDougall was an injury he suffered covering a punt during week one against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
“It’s had its frustrating moments, for sure,” said MacDougall.
“Going through training camp I thought I was looking good for getting on the field a bit more. That early injury set me back. I just have to finish the season strong and look toward next year.”
When Chamblin was fired mid-season, the door opened for MacDougall to eventually get his chance to start at safety. That’s because interim head coach Bob Dyce’s first major move was to flip the ratio at safety and make it a Canadian position because the team had the players to do so with MacDougall, Matt Webster and Dan West.
Webster started at safety for six weeks before MacDougall got the call last week.
“(I’m) very happy for him,” said Dyce.
“He’s one of the guys on special teams when he wasn’t initially in there as a starting safety. Then he got injured, then he got moved to linebacker which put him back a little bit.
To see when he actually got on the field to make the most of his opportunity was great.”
MacDougall finished the game with five tackles and one sack. The 25-year-old would have had a second sack if not for a flag and nearly added an interception as well.
Overall, MacDougall brought a more aggressive mindset to the safety position.
“Keenan carried that throughout the whole game. It was great to see. You want to continue to see guys build off of that,” said Dyce.