|Tino Sunseri (#12) will lead the Roughriders as their starting QB.|
It’s Tino’s time in Rider Nation, and Saskatchewan Roughriders fans will find out fast how good backup quarterback Tino Sunseri is.
With starting quarterback Darian Durant needing surgery to repair a torn tendon in his right elbow, Sunseri will be the leader at the helm for the Green and White for likely the rest of the 2014 season. Durant suffered his injury during a hit in the Roughriders 30-24 road victory over the Blue Bombers in Winnipeg on Sunday.
Things won’t be easy for Sunseri down the stretch, because the Roughriders schedule is due to get a lot tougher. In the team’s final six games, the Riders play the 7-3 Edmonton Eskimos three times and the CFL leading 9-1 Calgary Stampeders twice.
The good news for the University of Pittsburgh graduate is he will get two full starts to prepare for that stretch against a couple of the CFL’s lesser lights in the East Division. This coming Sunday, the Roughriders travel to Hamilton to play the 2-7 Tigers-Cats.
Following that contest, the Riders return home and host the expansion 1-9 Ottawa Redblacks on Sept. 21 in the Plaza of Honor game.
While you never want to look past any opponents, the contests against the Tigers-Cats and Redblacks could serve as good tune-up games for Sunseri. If he can cement a high comfort level with the team’s talented receivers during that time, it will serve him well in the late season battles the Riders are sure to encounter.
Sunseri has the potential to be good. At the University of Pittsburgh, he finished third in school history throwing for 8,590 career passing yards.
Also, he doesn’t have to come in and be like Peyton Manning for Saskatchewan. The Riders have built their 8-2 record on the strength of a shutdown defence anchored by sack master John Chick and a league-leading rushing attack built behind a veteran offensive line.
It is possible that Sunseri might get away with being like Trent Dilfer, where you are the classic game-manager quarterback. In that role, the quarterback basically tries not to turn the ball over or make any mistake that might cost the team.
So far this season, Sunseri has looked good in the small sample size of action he has been part of. Back on Aug. 24, he made a big relief appearance in a 20-16 road victory over the B.C. Lions in Vancouver.
In the contest, he completed 8-of-13 passes for 86 yards and a touchdown pass to offensive lineman Dan Clark off a goal-line gadget play.
When Sunseri entered that contest, Roughriders offensive coordinator George Cortez didn’t become passive. At the start of the second half, Sunseri went for broke and threw up a bomb, which was dropped by wide receiver Rob Bagg, who had a clear path to the end zone.
With the supporting cast the Roughriders have, Sunseri has a golden opportunity to shine.
Very soon when the team’s schedule gets a lot tougher, we’ll have a true early gauge to see how well Sunseri handles his opportunity.
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