GOTCHA! You thought we'd open with football today didn't you??
Courtesy of Jeff Armstead, here are some photos from Friday's annual Sticks On Rose Celebrity Road Hockey event on Regina's downtown Rose Street. The event, along with Thursday's golf tournament and gala, raised over an amazing $100,000 for charity!
I'm not sure who the guy on the far left is but from left, next to him, are: the Pats' Chandler Stephenson, comedian Kelly Taylor of P.A., the Hershey Bears' Garrett Mitchell, the Edmonton Oilers' Boyd Gordon and Jordan Eberle, and the Toronto Maple Leafs' Tyler Bozak..
Regina's Boyd Gordon..
Olympic curling gold medalist Ben Hebert of Regina (left)...
Wawota, SK's Brooks Laich of the Washington Capitals...
An action shot of Eberle...
Former Pats captain Garth Murray who amassed 118 NHL games with the New York Rangers, Montreal, Florida and Phoenix..
Rider great and Sask Party MLA Gene Makowsky...
One of the event organizers Jamie Heward who starred with the Regina Pats before playing 394 NHL games with Toronto, Nashville, New York Islanders, Columbus, Washington, L.A. and Tampa Bay...
Rouleau, SK's Keith Aulie of the Tampa Bay Lightning...
Comedian Kelly Taylor. He's one of the top three I've ever seen live...
Press Box Sports Bar managing partner Kevin Dureau...
Recently-retired Rider great Mike McCullough...
Casino Regina executive Gerry Fischer (left) with U of R Cougar mens hockey coach Todd Johnson...
Regina's Tyler Bozak of the Toronto Maple Leafs...
And now, some football talk!
Former Roughrider defensive lineman and current CKRM football analyst Luc Mullinder covered Saturday's Roughrider mock game for Rider Radio and provided this detailed recap of the first week of 2014 Roughrider Training Camp in Saskatoon presented by Groundforce Drilling...
Week 1 Wrap Up w/ Mock Game Notes
By: Luc Mullinder
To cap off a tough week 1 of training camp, the Riders got a chance to hit the field for a situational Mock Game Saturday at Griffith's Stadium in Saskatoon.
Every part of a real game was simulated, including the positional warm-up group order. The only thing missing was Jeff Sawatzki blandly singing the National Anthem, as per usual.
On “The Sportscage,” Rod and I spoke on this being a big opportunity for guys to put something on film during live situations, and thanks to Darian Durant being given the day off, the 3rd string QB battle got some extra reps thrown at it.
A few other entrenched Rider starters (Foley, T.George, and Getz) didn’t suit up, but there was a gang of other cats that didn’t get the go-ahead from head therapist Ivan Gutfriend. It’s gotta be frustrating for those guys. There’s a popular training camp adage that goes “Ya Can’t Make the Club in the Tub.”
For the most part, the mock game was situational. The offense and defence continued to test how much players are retaining in the meeting rooms by continuing to use more of their situational packages and personnel groupings. Below is a positional analysis of the ongoing battles and interesting views that you can use during your water cooler conversations at 10am!
If there are any Durant haters left, I have good news. If Doubles forgets to set his alarm and was to miss the start of a game, Tino Sunseri looks good! It’s the 3rd QB spot that remains unclaimed. Seth Doege (#7) and Adam Weber (#5) are still trying to grasp the intricacies of the CFL game, and at times both look uncomfortable. Weber definitely has a better arm (than Doege), and in Saturday's Mock Game, it seemed like he had a better command of his huddle. Both threw touchdown passes, but after plenty of reps, there was no clear standout. Hopefully when coaches look at the film, they’ll see something different. There’s still time, and the goal is to get better every play.
There are touches up for grabs!
Guys that are pushing for a spot:
• #77 Alex Pierzchalski: His main problems have been mental. He’s had a tough time adjusting to the speed of the game, and the playbook. When you’re thinking too much, you’re hesitating and you can tell when that’s happening for him. The kid has a huge upside though. Great straight line speed and a good physical route runner. Catches the ball away from his body, and his size and arm length give a QB a much more accessible target. I think him and Kris Bastien #74 could push Jade Etienne and Jordan Sisco to the bubble.
• #81 Chaz Schilens: We’ve discussed his intangibles at great length on the “The Sportscage.” We’ve also made note of the tough time he’s having adjusting to the waggle and cadence differences in the CFL. On Saturday, Chaz looked more comfortable in his waggle and cadence timing. If he can get the ‘ins and outs’ of the CFL game down, his sheer size and ability will be a great asset for the 2014 squad. He had a good game on Saturday, displaying his ability to catch the rock in traffic and also beat a defender deep.
• #16 Brett Swain: Not as big as #77 & #81 but makes up for it with quick pronounced cuts and good awareness of his surroundings. Catches the ball well and seems to be catching on to the Canadian game quickly. He’s been running with the 1st group for the last couple practises and in the scrimmage caught a TD pass. His bread and butter thus far, has been finding the coverage holes in those intermediate routes, and he’s finding out how to use the waggle to his advantage.
Others that have stood out: Rob Bagg, Eron Riley, Taj Smith and Mitch Thompson
This is going to go down to the wire.
Right now, it looks as though Keith Toston and Jermaine Thomas are 1a and 1b. Clifton Smith is also pushing for a spot by making good use of the reps he’s getting and also having a high value as a return man. But the late addition of #26 Anthony Allen (who coaches want to look at) may heat things up.
• #42 Toston: Big, Strong, and Physical. Coach Chamblin wants a back that can protect #4. This guy not only can do it, he wants to do it. When he is left to pick up guys coming off the edge or up the middle, he attacks and hits, he doesn’t wait and catch the oncoming player. He catches the ball fairly well and runs aggressively, and with a purpose. He’s very agile for a big guy as well.
• #39 Thomas: About 20 lbs lighter that Toston, but he’s a little more shifty. Has some good burst after making an initial read or cut and sees the field well. Although not as good a blocker as #42, he’s still very willing, and sound fundamentally. His advantage over Toston may be in the receiving department, as he has converted a few screens and dump offs for big plays.
• #25 Smith: He’s the jitterbug of the trio. Very creative, but patient, runner that has a great burst. The longest runs of camp so far, have been courtesy of #25. He lacks the size of the first two, but his trump card in terms of the roster is the fact that he is a valuable special teams addition.
The 2014 Offense will live and die here.
The front five are the best Oline in the league. Big, physical group that play nasty, but, well within the fundamentals of coach Doug Malone’s principles. Dan Clark has been solid as a tight end, and has had a solid camp at the guard spot. He’s learned to play well with the physical limitations that “experts” would say he has (short arms and height) and has really shown an improvement in his pass protection.
The Riders 2nd tackles Devin Tyler (#61) and Levy Adcock (#64) have also been solid. Both did a great job on Saturday with their footwork and hand punch against the 1st Defensive front that included John Chick and were superior against the younger D-linemen. The problem is, there may only be room for one, and in this case, experience, which is on Tyler's side may win out, in case Fulton can’t go the whole season as our import Tackle.
There’s 95, 93, and 97…Need one…Who wants a job???
A Defensive Tackle position is open and a couple guys are getting a legit shot to play next to one of the more athletic playmakers in the league, Tearrius George.
• Richard Sumlin (#96): Sumlin was here last year and has been working with the 1st unit all camp at the Nose Tackle spot. He’s looked good at times. He’s quick off the ball and obviously knows the playbook. I also like the way he communicates with the newer guys when they’re out there by getting them lined up right. Takes on double teams and doesn’t lose much ground, which was a staple of the departed Keith Shologan. Also uses his leverage to his advantage during the pass rush. In order for him to maintain his spot in the 1st group, he’s going to have to show a consistent level of effort and ability to make plays and provide push in the middle.
• Derek Walker (#70): Long and athletic. This guy’s got a chance if he can get the playbook down. Very powerful at point of impact and uses his long arms effectively. He’s tough to block because he refuses to stop his feet on contact, and has a fast get off. The one thing that stuck out on Saturday, was the way he and #79 (Robert Eddins) were flying around the field. You can’t teach that, and coaches eat it up. I’m looking for him to make a few plays to keep the competition going at the Nose tackle spot.
* John Chick looks healthier this year and has been the best defensive player on the field. On Saturday it continued. He tallied 3 sacks and a couple tackles. Chick has gotten comfortable with being used on the inside during passing situations and his speed and athleticism are a nightmare for O-lines that already have to account for lots of movement and #93. On the edge, he has gone back to using his power to set up a pass rush move, instead of relying on it to get him in the backfield.
A lot better group than people thought, because people are too focused on what they lost.
• (#31) Sam Hurl: Hurl has had a strong camp, started out rolling with the 1’s in the beginning, but has since given way to Chad Kilgore. Although his non-import status is a definite plus, watching him compete, one can tell that he isn’t relying on it at all. Hurl's instincts and ability to recognize lineman movement to diagnose a play are exceptional. As a Middle Linebacker, communication is crucial, and he definitely doesn’t lack in that phase. I really thought he worked well with Brian Peters. Obviously, you want your linebackers to be good physical hitters and Hurl is a sound tackler that runs through contact and wraps up. Now, just because I say he’s been replaced by Kilgore doesn’t mean the battle is over. Coaches often take a look at how certain guys work with (or against) others. He definitely has a huge opportunity to make plays during the upcoming exhibition game, and if you take passport out of it, that’s how it should be.
• (#50) Chad Kilgore: One of the reasons the coaches may have put Kilgore with the 1s may have been because he has been making plays since day 1. Kilgore also has the instincts and tackling ability that make great Middle Linebackers, and he “gets to the spot” faster than Hurl does. #50 also looks very comfortable in coverage and gets to the point of his drops well. When he has RB coverage responsibility, he is able to get out of his backpedal, or shuffle, quickly and shows a good burst to the ball. I don’t think it’s something that Hurl is not doing, that has tentatively moved Kilgore ahead of him. I just think that Kilgore’s continual playmaking throughout the week has caught the coaches eye.
• (#27) Brian Peters: Peters has been the most impressive of the group. He’s picked Durant off a couple times, caused fumbles, made tackles and so on and so forth. Like Hurl and Kilgore, he recognizes plays and formations well which helps him get to the ball quickly. He works well with all the LBs, probably due to his Northwestern education (My Big 10 plug). For those who are worried about replacing Butler's hybrid role, it has been Peters in the last couple of days who has been utilized as a second safety when they take out a LB or DL. He’s a lot tougher than he looks but also plays with the quick feet and loose hips that you’d want in your DB’s.
• I think the combination of Peters, Weldon Brown (who is having a great camp) and whoever wins the MLB battle, the Riders defence will do just fine. They’ll have to go through a learning curve together, but it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish…#GC14
The deepest crop of talent at camp. Chamblin's got a great problem on his hands.
Just when you sit there and think that you’ve found a guy that might be in trouble, he goes out and gets two sacks, a pick and a fumble recovery for a TD in two days…Way to make plays Macho Harris!
That’s how this group is. Talented, deep and loud!!! #Wolfpack
• Troy Stoudemire (#29): The kid can flat out play! The intangibles are there. He can go from backpedal, to flipping his hips, to stopping and breaking on the ball effortlessly, without losing speed while he’s at it. He also loves to play in the box, blitz, and get in on RB tackles. Speaking of tackles, he can do that on an island, which is sometimes where you end up as a DB. I like the way he has been breaking on the WR screen plays that are prevalent in the CFL, and he continued showing his ability on Saturday with a strong game. The problem? Where do you put him? He may push for the spot currently occupied by Tristan Jackson.
• New guys that have also had strong job interviews are Donnie Fletcher (who looks like a LB) and Marshay Green, who I could just copy and paste Stoudemire’s assessment for.
That’s the issue here. If I include the hybrid LB’s like Carlos Thomas and Brandon Isaac and then take the likes of Paul Woldu, Macho Harris, Hugo Lopez and Tristan Jackson … there’s not enough room on the arc!!! We already have a couple of the best cover guys in the league in D.A and Rod Williams. Terrell Maze is a quiet beast, and at the top of the pack sits a rare breed (you can pay me later) in the hard hitting and cerebral Tyron Brackenridge. Teams in the CFL are definitely going to be able to scoop up some talent at cut day.
All that point does, is bring me to a close. There is a ton of talent on this training camp roster. And the competition level is awesome. It’s the greatest job interview you’ll ever have, if you’re fortunate enough to qualify. In the spirit of Saskatchewan, week 2 of camp is going to be a GOODER…
THANKS LUC FOR THE UNREAL ASSESSMENT!
SEE YOU IN THE CAGE AT 4 PM