Saturday, September 17, 2016
RIDER "D" LOOKING TO SHUTDOWN ESKIMOS
REGINA - The Saskatchewan Roughriders' defence will try to slow down Edmonton's run game on Sunday when the Eskimos visit for the final regular-season game between the two West Division teams.
The Eskimos (5-6) had 114 rushing yards in their 39-36 win over Saskatchewan on July 8. John White ran for 96 yards and one TD while quarterback Mike Reilly added 18 yards.
Edmonton followed that up with a 33-25 victory on Aug. 26 in Regina, where Reilly and running back Shakir Bell combined for 183 rushing yards.
Whichever of Edmonton's two agile backs start Sunday's game, Roughriders (1-10) linebackers coach Phillip Lolley admitted they both pose a unique challenge.
"It becomes difficult to see them behind those big linemen,'' Lolley said. "That's no secret and that's been that way forever.''
Both White and Bell are listed at five foot eight.
"We've just got to locate them, we've got to know tendencies, we have to know our gap fits and we have to get off the ball,'' Lolley added. "And it's going to take a whole team to stop those guys.''
Reilly has shown throughout this season that he's able to both run and connect with slotback Adarius Bowman, the CFL's receiving yards leader with 1,127, and receiver Derel Walker, who's second overall with 1,124 yards.
Reilly is the CFL's passing leader with 3,747 yards and second in TD strikes with 19.
"That's going to be an effort for everyone because he's one of the best quarterbacks in the league, especially when he gets out of the pocket,'' said Riders linebacker Otha Foster III, who had seven tackles against Edmonton last month. "We're going to have to sit in there, we're going to have to stay on our guys.
"And as a front, we're going to have to keep him contained, and just ride it to him when he gets out of the pocket.''
Lolley says covering Reilly, whether he's throwing or running, requires a high degree of communication between the defensive line and linebackers on coverage calls.
"We might be man-to-man and he fakes to the (running) back, (then) we're tracking the back,'' he said. "So it's impossible for us to contain him at that point, so that becomes someone else's responsibility.''
The Riders' secondary appears to have Edmonton's passing game under control: Reilly threw for 378 yards, four touchdowns and one interception in the teams' first matchup, while being limited to 253 yards, two touchdowns and an interception Aug. 26.
Rookie defensive back Justin Cox credits the chemistry that he and others have developed since the season began with an entirely new defensive backfield.
"Once we're together a little longer, we're coming together, and being more smart and communicating all across the board,'' he said.
(Canadian Press/Evan Radford)