Realty One

Friday, July 1, 2016


REGINA - Darian Durant looked sharp in his return to the Saskatchewan Roughriders' starting lineup. The only problem was the Toronto Argonauts' defence was slightly better.

Ricky Ray threw a pair of first-quarter touchdowns that held up and Toronto as the Argos spoiled the Riders' home opener with a 30-17 victory at Mosaic Stadium.

"To be on the road in one of the toughest places to play in the CFL, to be able to get off to a good start definitely allowed us to control the game,'' Ray said after he threw for 186 yards and two touchdowns.

Toronto (1-1), which led 21-10 at halftime, watched as its defence limited Durant and the Riders (0-1) to two field goals in the second half.

"(Saskatchewan) had a bye in the first week, so we didn't even have any film to go on,'' said Argos linebacker Cory Greenwood. "We were out there defending ghosts and we just had to run our stuff better than how they ran their stuff. And we all played together a lot better than how we did last week (in a 42-20 home loss to Hamilton).''

The Argos scored touchdowns on their first two possessions of the first quarter. After the Riders went two and out to start the game, Larry Taylor returned a punt 57 yards to Saskatchewan's four-yard line. On the next play, Ray dumped the ball off to Andre Durie, who scampered into the end zone.

On the ensuing possession, Durant marched the Riders into Toronto territory, but came up short on a third-down rush and turned the ball over on the Argos' 16-yard line.

Ray and the Argos again took advantage. Vidal Hazelton blew past the Saskatchewan secondary for a 56-yard touchdown reception, his third of the season, to put the visitors up 14-0 before the game was seven minutes old. Ray was 7-for-10 passing for 121 yards and two touchdowns in the first half.

"We were able to keep the crowd out of it and we were able to grab that momentum right away and hold on to it,'' Ray said.

"We stepped it up this week,'' added Greenwood, who had a team-high eight tackles. "I felt last week we had them pinned and we let them get off the hook and put drives on us. Tonight, we stepped up and had a lot more two-and-outs and just played better as a unit.''

The Riders cut into Toronto's lead early in the second quarter when Durant hooked up with John Chiles, one of several newcomers on the Riders' roster, for a six-yard touchdown reception to make it 14-7. Durant finished the night completing 31-of-48 pass attempts for 310 yards and one touchdown. He also rushed for 15 yards.

Durant missed the 2015 season after he ruptured his Achilles' tendon in the season opener. He missed the second half of the 2014 season with a torn ligament in his right elbow. Since 2012, Saskatchewan is 6-23 in games without Durant in the lineup.

"I'm glad to get that out of the way and to get back into the rhythm of playing a game,'' Durant said. "To feel those hits, those bumps and bruises. The biggest thing is that you can never simulate a game. To be tired in the fourth quarter, to be able to make those reads when you're tired and when you're sore. I'm glad I got a chance to experience that again.''

Durant's favourite receiver on the night was Naaman Roosevelt. The second-year wideout hauled in nine passes for 113 yards.

Toronto restored a two-touchdown lead before the half ended. This time it was the defence that scored. Matt Black scooped up a fumble on a third-down quarterback sneak and returned it 27 yards for a touchdown. That made it 21-7 with two minutes remaining in the half.

The Argos led 21-10 at halftime.

From there, the defence took over.

"We don't have to be lights out and killers right now,'' Greenwood said. "We need to be that defence in October and November. We have to keep getting better and climax at the end of the season. Tonight was a good starting point for us.''

The Riders had field goals from 15 and 35 yards from Tyler Crapinga, while Lirim Hajrullahu kicked three for Toronto (27, 32 and 50 yards).

Ray needs 76 yards passing to reach 53,000 for his career, and 332 to pass Danny McManus for fourth place on the CFL's all-time passing list.

Toronto will visit the B.C. Lions in Week 3, while the Riders will travel to Edmonton to face the Eskimos.

(The Canadian Press)


- I felt like production was there.  We need to finish drives.  In the second half we had some untimely penalties and had a few drops that killed some drives.  But I thought Darian did a good job of distributing the football with the exception of about three plays.  I felt like he got the ball to his receivers but on a couple of deeper routes, I feel like he's going to have to set his feet and throw the football.  But there's some reasons to be optimistic.

- I thought we were pretty physical tonight.  It was a very physical football game.  From what you saw on the very opening play, they were physical on that very first punt return.  Unfortunately we lost contain and it turned into a big play.

- I thought with the exception of the first play of the game where they caught us on a pump-and-go in Cover 3, Buddy aligned outside relesae which is taboo. And of course Johnny (Dixon) settles his feet and then he's out-flanked because Buddy let the guy get outside.  I mean it's a pretty simple concept.  With the exception of that I thought we played pretty solid defensively.  We tackled pretty well.  I thought we looked very fast and athletic.  It basically came down to three plays in the first half and that was the difference in the football game.

- We're gonna be aggressive and I told the offensive line we have the utmost confidence in our football players.  We lift more than any other team in this league.  We know that we do.  If you can't get a yard with the defensive line off a yard, then you shouldn't be in this game.

- I think we're ahead of schedule.  We had 38 minutes T.O.P. and lost the football game.  And Toronto's better than you think they are.

- We've got two packages for short yardage.  If we say "Ram" then our starter stays in there.  If there's a stoppage in play and we have time, then we'll go with a two tightend formation.  You've gotta get a yard.  And it's not on Bryant Moniz and it's not on our centre.  We as a football team, that's what we're gonna do.  We're not gonna take the ball off the line of scrimmage.  We're gonna sneak it and I don't care if they know.  We're gonna QB sneak to get a yard.

- It comes down to consistency and we've gotta continue to preach consistency at practice and being disciplined.  We have to continue to watch penalties in practice so that we don't shoot ourselves in the foot because we're not going to be one of those teams to overcome three or four penalties or drops killing drives.  We gotta be efficient.

- Curtis Steele played really, really hard.  I thought he was physical.  He had some production but there again, just like with Darian, he had two critical drops in the second half.

- I really don't worry about peoples' stats.  I talked to all three defensive ends and just like I told the guys last year in Edmonton, we don't care about peoples' stats.  We care about winning football games.  If we win enough football games, the stats come.  We don't deal with personalities.

- Josiah St. John is signed.  He's here and I look forward to working with him this week.  Will he play next week?  That's yet to be determined.  I find it hard to believe that somebody could come in that quick of time and be ready to perform at that level.

- He looks in better than shape than what he looked like before the draft.  Hopefully he's working and is in great shape.  This is a business.  Everybody in that locker room knows exactly what the score is.  Certainly he'll have to fit into the locker room just like any new player.



Keith Pottruff said...

I don't like to see us not win tonight, but I saw a team that was trying all night long. Unlike last year, the coaches are ready to tame blame and distribute success. We will be ok

Doovy 49 said...

Liked what I saw. Good to see DD mobile and fairly sharp. Lots of talent out there, just need some time to gel as a team. Chiles will become a game breaker once he gets chemistry with DD. All good!!

BM said...

This will be a good football team. AC Leonard, Sam Eguavoen, Chiles, Jones, Newsome, Steele, Edwards etc.

Lots to be positive about!

Victor Isted said...

Overall happy with the team. Cut out the 2 turnovers and it's a completely different game. Time to turn the page and focus on the Eskimos. Go Riders! Go CFL!!

lee said...

Really like what i saw...We are better than... i thought a couple of plays hurt us or we were in a postion to win heads and shoulders above last year

Big Ed said...

Anyone know if we all witnessed Darian's first pass reception in the CFL?

If Mr. Murphy can grab big Jeff Fuller this week, our offense will be set!

Anonymous said...

In the 4th quarter I felt DD was only looking at Naaman Roosevelt. He threw into double coverage when Chiles was open in the middle. That will be corrected in weeks to come, I hope.
Stats are for losers but we did have some great offensive stats which at this early stage is very good.

Paul Brown said...

I am a huge Darian Durant fan but some of his passes reflected nearly 2 years of ins activity.
The coaches need to devise a game plan where he NEVER throws the long bomb. He is terribly inaccurate over 40 yards.
He was just chucking them last night without setting his feet and aiming them properly.
All in all, last night's game was encouraging and a huge improvement over last year's abysmal efforts.
The defence not only could tackle, they wanted to tackle and rally to the football.
Kudos guys great effort.

GWil26 said...

When DD had time to set his feet and throw deep he made some great deep throws. A lot of the issues with the deep ball came from pressure forcing throws off balance or while being pulled back. The coaching staff has some cleaning up to do but we will be fine.

Anonymous said...

Are we really so beaten down as a fan base that we are happy because the team tried? The major issue in this game is that Darian Durant finds it next to impossible to display the characteristics of a leader. I can hear all the rah rahs from players, fans, peers, announcers. It means nothing to me when I have to witness a mopey, unenthusiastic guy who just never seems to be able to clearly get on point as to what a QB is supposed to represent; precision, execution, enthusiasm, expertise, accuracy, deception. He lacks precision (always has), he fails to execute in a staggeringly obtuse fashion 10-12 times a game, his body language is awful, he has no more grasp of seeing the field today than he did as a rookie and he locks in and telegraphs his passes in a manner that would get a grade 10 QB sent to the bench. We are living a lie in this province that this guy is an elite QB. He is, absolutely, not elite. He is old, an energy drain and he is am anchor on the team's progress. If Chris Jones is who I think he is, DD is not going to be a starter long unless major changes take place. It was a pathetic display of quarterbacking. I don't care what the stat sheets and fan boys say. He was brutal.

3RD and 1 said...

I saw a nervous SK team to start the game. Where as Toronto was much more settled and ready to play from the opening whistle. Truthfully it couldn't have started much worse for SK. The only break was Darian's throw on the Riders 1st offensive series. That was a pick 6 and the Toronto defender dropped the ball. Once the 1st Qtr ended that when I saw SK settle in and play some football. Other than gambling on 3rd and a long 1 on our own 27 with the wind. Turning it over for a defensive TD the Riders played well in the second.
I expected the Riders D to be a bit better and the Riders O to be a little flatter than they were. So all in all an optimistic start.
a lack of or poor execution to start the game is what hurt them the most.

Ryan said...

While I agree that Durant is not as good as Ray in throwing the deep ball, I would not describe him as "terribly innaccurate" or "should never throw them". His first long throw to Roosevelt split two defenders and was right on the money and his throw to Collins on the sideline was a perfect throw to make sure the defender didn't knock it down. I agree he does need to set as a couple were not so great

Gerry Fincati said...

Here we go again... People saying Durant is the greatest, but the Riders still lose with him at the helm - perhaps he is not so great!

Ryan said...

I thought anonymous posters were banned? Hit the bricks poser

Anonymous said...

One negative, idiotic rant about Durant from a anonymous person from a place unknown means nothing! One fact is clear, Durant did very well with a new receiving core and another new offensive system after a period of two seasons with little game action. DO NOT suggest that the silly statement posted today in any ways suggest any real opinion about the play and future of our franchise QB. He will preform well and this totally revamped roster starts to jell and gain experience and chemistry.

Old Hank

Daryl Pratt said...

We have what looks like to me as being a very good football team just starting out !!! By the way I started a new Facebook group if you'd like to join to talk Riders or CFL ! Not promising any breaking news or you hear it here first kinda stuff just good ol fashion discussion and cheer for our team

Anonymous said...

Why are anonymous posts allowed again? Look our for the crazies.
Don Matthews step brother

Anonymous said...

These posts don't sound any more intelligent coming from "real" names.

Daryl Pratt said...

Group is Rider Fans Unite !

Anonymous said...

Same old team.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure why everyone thinks St John caved and signed cheap. Pretty real chance the riders swallowed their pride and paid him.

Anonymous said...

Maybe ... maybe not ...

Anonymous said...

Durrant has a obvious limp to his gait.

Victor Isted said...

So what's up with negative nelly anonymous. Yes there's still lots of work to be done. Everyone is allowed there opinion. Yours would hold more weight if you were man enough to put your name to them. So as far as I'm concerned is your just another troll from another team hide behind your keyboard in your parents basement trying to cause trouble. So either man up or shut up.

Gor Riders! Go CFL!!

Anonymous said...

I thought the Riders looked pretty damn good for the first game of the season. Sure a few mistakes happened and sure there were some bad calls and plays but at least we got the rust out of the system and Durant looked good so lets wait and see what happens when we meet the Esks next Fri and by the way I'll take the Riders in that one. Go Green.

Roger That said...

When Gary Fincati grows up and learns a bit about the sport of football he will discover that it is the ultimate team game and that wins and loses rest on the performance of a team as a whole, never on one individual, coach or player, referee, or one or two plays on special teams, defense, or offense.

Anonymous said...

If you don't see it with Durant - that is fine. This is not a one game thing.

james simpson said...

Not sure what games Mr Anonymous is watching, but if it's the Riders, he has zero comprehension as to what he's seeing. DD is without question an elite QB, and undeniably (for anyone with basic awareness) atvLEAST top 3 in the league, and likely higher. That fact that this genius thinks he knows better than ALL of DD's teammates, who to a man say he is an unquestionable, indominable leader says all we need to know about him