REGINA — The Saskatchewan Roughriders' offence is rolling with Bob Dyce.
That shouldn't be a huge surprise considering Dyce's offensive background as an assistant coach with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. Dyce spent seven CFL seasons with the Blue Bombers, including the previous six as the team's receivers coach. During his tenure, the Blue Bombers had nine receivers exceed 1,000 yards in receptions. In 2007 and 2008, the Blue Bombers had three receivers each eclipse 1,000 yards.
Dyce's success in Winnipeg has earned the respect of the receivers with the Roughriders (3-0), who are to play the Stampeders (2-1) in Calgary on Saturday.
"He has coached so many great players already,'' wide receiver Rob Bagg said Wednesday of Dyce, who is in his first season as receivers coach and passing-game co-ordinator with the Riders. "Everything he says I try to absorb. I love him because he's a players' coach and he's always looking out for your best interests. He helps you become a better player and as a young guy that's all you can ask for.''
Dyce served as an assistant coach with the Blue Bombers while Milt Stegall was rolling up yardage as a slotback. Stegall had four of his 10 1,000-yard seasons from 2004 through 2007. In 2007, Terrence Edwards (1,280 yards), Derick Armstrong (1,142) and Stegall (1,108) led the Blue Bombers' attack. In 2008, Romby Bryant (1,206), Armstrong (1,010) and Edwards (1,010) were the leading receivers with the Bombers.
"It gives you the optimism that you feel you can be part of that group as well,'' said Bagg, who has eight receptions for 164 yards and a touchdown this season. "He has the playbook and tools to make it possible.''
Dyce wouldn't be surprised to see similar production from the Riders' receivers.
"When I look at this group, I see five or six guys who are capable of being 1,000-yard receivers,'' said Dyce. "With Jason (Clermont) in there, we have a starting six. The benefit of this offence is it's not pre-determined who is getting the ball. Darian (Durant, the Riders quarterback) does a great job of making his reads and doing a great job throwing the ball where it's supposed to go.''
The difference in the receiving corps may be due to their players' nationalities. All of the receivers with the Blue Bombers who exceeded 1,000 receiving yards with Dyce were imports. The Riders' receiving corps is predominantly Canadian with slotbacks Andy Fantuz, Chris Getzlaf and Clermont. along with Bagg at wideout. Slotback Weston Dressler and wide receiver Prechae Rodriguez are the imports.
"With the talent of these guys, I don't see them as non-imports,'' said Dyce. "I see them as great receivers. I would be hard-pressed to say one of them wouldn't have started with the Blue Bombers because they are that good.''
Dyce was impressed with the Riders' offence while with the Blue Bombers. Paul LaPolice was the Riders' offensive co-ordinator in 2008 and 2009 before being hired as Winnipeg's head coach during the off-season. Dyce was friends with LaPolice, who was part of Winnipeg's coaching staff in 2002 and 2003.
"We've always talked about what we were doing,'' said Dyce, a 44-year-old native of Winnipeg who started his coaching career in 1992 with CJFL's St. Vital Mustangs. "Sometimes watching them on film, you don't realize how good they are. Working with them gives you a good idea how talented they are.''
The 2009 season was the first since 1998 that a Winnipeg receiver had failed to record more than 1,000 yards in receptions. Wide receiver Adarius Bowman paced Winnipeg with 55 receptions for 925 yards and six touchdowns.
That could have been a result of the turmoil around the Blue Bombers' camp under the leadership of head coach Mike Kelly. Kelly was fired during the off-season.
"Maybe it was a part of what I went through last year but I haven't noticed any distractions this year,'' Dyce said with a chuckle. "The whole environment that (Riders head) Coach Miller puts out here is one that keeps the players at ease and they are able to focus on the task at hand, which is winning football games.''
Dyce isn't the only one with a Winnipeg connection. Doug Berry, the offensive co-ordinator and assistant head coach, was Winnipeg's head coach from 2006 through 2008. Riders general manager Brendan Taman held the same position with the Blue Bombers before resigning in 2008. Taman became the Riders' GM on Jan. 21.
Those ties may have helped Dyce land the job. But Miller has been impressed by Dyce's performance this season.
"(Dyce's) knowledge of football has great breadth and depth,'' said Miller. "I'm pleased with him and his mannerisms. The players really respect and look up to him because he really knows what he's talking about.''
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