As excited as he may have been to come to Saskatchewan, long snapper Dan MacDonald didn’t exactly know what he was getting himself into.
MacDonald was working at a furniture store in Ontario two weeks ago when he checked his phone and had a bunch of missed calls from his agent. He called him back quickly.
“He said ‘you’re going to Saskatchewan’ and I started yelling and I told my boss, ‘I got to go,’” MacDonald said, adding his boss was understanding.
What MacDonald didn’t know was how soon he would be needed. The Riders’ regular snapper Jorgen Hus hurt his wrist, and so MacDonald barely got one day of work in with kicker Tyler Crapigna and punter Josh Bartel before game time.
The lack of time together showed. Crapigna went 1 for 3 and missed a convert during the the Labour Day Classic.
A lot of that can be attributed to timing and lack of familiarity.
“It was a little bit worrying, more on the field goals,” Bartel said of bringing on a new long snapper. “I was more nervous for Tyler because I want to give him a good pin and Dan wanted to give him a good snap and we both sort of struggled that first game that Dan played.”
MacDonald said there were a lot of jitters in that first game coming off of limited practice.
“I was ready to poop myself,” he said. “It was pretty rough, but it was fun considering (the Labour Day Classic) was the first game, it was fun,” adding he had never seen anything quite like the fans in Saskatchewan and the atmosphere.
“When you’re in Toronto there’s Argos stuff, but it’s not like this, this is nuts.”
After a full week of practice, Bartel, MacDonald and Crapigna seemed to find their stride putting out a much more typical and consistent performance at the Banjo Bowl. Both Bartel and MacDonald said that timing is paramount for the kick game, and every snapper is different. They just didn’t have enough time to figure it out.
“Everybody’s got their own thing, how hard you’re going to snap … some guys snap it a little softer, the rotation’s a little different, so it’s just something to get used to,” he explained. “I think we’re doing pretty well at it.”
Certainly it didn’t get any worse, though there weren’t too many opportunities to test it. Crapigna only had one field goal attempt – which he made. He also made the only convert he had to kick. Meanwhile, Bartel had a great game punting, his longest being 55 yards with an average of 47.6.
“Of course, it’s hard coming in late, (Tyler and Josh) have been together for so long, but they let me in. They’re good guys, so it’s fun,” MacDonald said.