There’s another battle shaping up between the University of North Dakota and North Dakota State University (NDSU), but this time it’s in Saskatchewan.
With just two weeks left in the CFL regular season, the Riders’ receiving yards title is still up for grabs and it’s coming down to North Dakota’s Weston Dressler and NDSU’s Ryan Smith.
Heading into Saturday’s game against the Calgary Stampeders, Dressler holds just a three-yard lead on Smith.
“A little bit of a rivalry there. If I know those guys, Weston always likes to be number one, that’s just what drives him. That’s why he’s the player that he is,” said interim head coach Bob Dyce.
“To be honest, I haven’t heard a lot about it. I know Weston just competes and he wants to be the best and he is going to do whatever he can to help us win. I think they’re both the same in that regards.”
Both Dressler and Smith say there’s no internal competition between them to finish the season on top. Apparently, there’s no bargaining between the two receivers and quarterbacks Brett Smith and Keith Price to try and get them the ball more.
One thing’s for sure, Smith even being in the race shows just how far the 24-year-old has come in a season.
“(Leading the team in receiving) would be quite the accomplishment,” said Smith.
“It just shows that your hard work does pay off in the off-season . I worked my butt off this off-season to try and get to where I am now. Hopefully I can just keep taking the steps to get better.”
A lot of players tend to adjust their off-season workout and training plans after experiencing their first full season in the CFL. Smith admits he didn’t really do much differently.
Since Dressler returned to the Riders mid-way through last season, Dressler feels that Smith has been making strides on the field every single day.
“He just works his butt off. It’s nice to see that work pay off for a guy. Day in and day out he’s trying to familiarize himself with the Canadian game and learn the rules and the intricacies of how to work his way through a a defence. That work is definitely paying off,” he said.
“The more you’re playing in this league, the more comfortable you get. Especially coming from the US and playing American football your whole life. It takes a little time to get used to how this game is played.”
Both Smith and Dressler are the only receivers that have realistic shots a reaching 1,000 yards this season. For Dressler, it would be his sixth time reaching the milestone.
“That’s kind of always the personal goal as pretty much any receiver would say,” he said.
“I mean, I’ve always played this game to win as a team. Obviously, the way this season has gone, to get to 1,000 yards and get that milestone would ease the pain a little bit. But, this is still the ultimate team game and if you’re not winning those kinds of things don’t mean much to me.”
Dressler currently has 799 yards compared to Smith’s 796. Both need to average over 100 yards game in the final two weeks to reach 1,000 yards.
NEWS AND NOTES
Just one week after being told they wouldn’t play the rest of the season, linebacker Tyron Brackenridge and defensive lineman Tearrius George are back in the lineup. Interim head coach Bob Dyce wouldn’t confirm why but it’s likely due to the unavailability of Andre Monroe and Jake Doughty.
Defensive back Matt Webster will get a chance to show some versatility on Saturday. He’ll be playing corner for the first time in his CFL career. Marshay Green returned to practice but Tyree Hollins did not.
Running back Stephen Houston will likely make his CFL debut against the Stampeders. Anthony Allen returned to practice on Thursday but Chad Spann did not.