Thursday, September 22, 2016
15 HOME GAME WEEKEND NOTES
More than anything else, it's the return of one John Chick.
2 - It sounds like a PERFECT night for football on Saturday at the Old Mosaic Stadium. Rain, wind and a high of 13 degrees Celsius (!) :(
We'll be checking that forecast closely for changes over the next 48 hours, but the Farewell Season wouldn't be complete without a rain game would it?
3 - The Tiger-Cats are favoured by 5-points by Bodog.
4 - GAME DETAILS: The decade of the 2000's will be honoured on Saturday (the franchise has conventiently skipped the woeful decade of the 90s), and there will be a commemorative highlight video of the 2007 Grey Cup shown at halftime. The featured alumni include Mike Abou-Mechrek, Greg Fieger, Michael Palmer, Preston Young, Luc Mullinder, Wes Cates and Ken McEachern.
5 - Perhaps we, at some point, can have our own 90's celebration since that was the heyday for those of us born in the 70's. Picture it: Reggie Slack, Warren Jones, K.D. Williams, Lamar McGriggs, Jim Daley, Mike Saunders, Ray Jauch, Paul McCallum, Steve Sarkisian and Ron Goetz are all brought back for celebrations each night at Lauderdales, Bart's on Broad and Checkers. We all made those places what they are today!
Uh, never mind. I'd have to add it up but the winning percentage of that decade was probably around .300. However as Dan Rashovich said on the SportsCage last week, "We won every party!"
6 - Something special IS going on with this football club right now, in case you hadn't noticed or heard. The intensity at Wednesday's practice was Grey Cup-worthy as the Offense-vs-Defense period came down to a 31-31 tie. The concept is, the competition stands no matter if it's the 1st string, 2nd string or 3rd stringers going "12-on-12". If the offense gets 4 yards or more, they get a point. If the defense holds them to under 4 yards, they get a point.
So again, the session came down to a 31-31 draw and the score is tallied on the SaskTel Maxtron for the world to see. (Offense is always 'Visitors' and Defense is always 'Home'). From what I could see, the players were all over Head Coach Chris Jones, begging him to run one more play to decide the winner. The winners, or course, are bought chicken dinner by the losers.
And the winners on Wednesday were the Defense. They went bananas. Offensive coordinator Stephen McAdoo was running around screaming that they'd been robbed! It was hilarious.
"It was just like the feeling we had coming out of training camp," smiled Jones afterwards, recalling a time when the dreams of a season had yet spilled down on the floor (to quote Ian Tyson).
7 - The part of all this that got me excited is that this team clearly isn't going to wilt and die down the stretch. They're not even talking about the playoffs, but rather simply coming together and getting better.
The prospect of shivering on the sidelines or freezing our butts in the aluminum bleachers this fall while watching meaningless practices wasn't something I was excited about.
However it appears we don't need to worry about that.
"We don't need to come up with things to motivate them right now," observed Rider receivers coach Markus Howell on CKRM's Coaches Show on Wednesday.
So as I've said over the past few weeks, if you turn your back on this club or 'check out' on the rest of the season, you're going to miss something very special.
8 - Is this mental turnaround too late? Probably, as far as the playoffs are concerned. But that's not a focus for Jones right now.
"I told our group that all we can control is what we do," Jones said on Wednesday. "Just show up and win and see where the ball bounces. We can't control anything anybody else does and we can't be consumed by anything other than just week by week."
9 - This is sometimes where general managers and coaches fall out of favour. GM's generally have a "long-view" of what's best for the franchise (planning ahead, etc.) while coaches are known to have a "short-view" (a Win Now mentality).
So does Chris Jones get into a mental fight with himself when he goes home at night over what's best for his Saskatchewan Roughriders?
"Well again, the ultimate goal is to win the football game," Jones smiled. "And then certainly we've got to look long range and see who's going to be around long-term to help us play football games, and win football games."
It would appear to me that Jones' primary focus is on the current version of the Roughriders, and he relies heavily on Jeremy O'Day and John Murphy for a lot of the information that pertains to the future of the club. And then, he'll make the final call on where the franchise goes once he assesses all the information he's given.
10 - Just one victory - last Sunday in overtime over Edmonton - has snapped people back into a positive mood around here. They're even taking a shining to Jones, or at least the ones I've talked to have. Former Rider Mike Abou-Mechrek laughed on the SportsCage, "They're saying 'I believed in Jones all along!'", even if they wanted to show him the door in August.
You do need to be patient and resilient if you're a Rider fan.
11 - A tip I got on Wednesday morning is that two other teams are preparing contract offers for Darian Durant for this off-season. The Riders are expected to offer Durant a contract with a lower base salary, and laden with incentives (primarily based on starts) while at least one other team will try to entice Durant with a much higher base salary. Then it's going to be up to him to decide.
These are going to be very interesting times in the months ahead.
12 - I hear the term "Durant Haters" a lot around here, but don't actually run into any of them. Do they exist anymore?
13 - The University of Regina Rams broke into the CIS Top 10 for the first time since 2012 this week, entering the poll at #9. They'll host the #2-ranked University of Calgary Dinos Friday night at Mosaic Stadium. The game will be broadcast live on Access and CKRM2.
I've gotta get down there and chat with Dinos Defensive Coordinator Tom Higgins. It seems like he's got A WEALTH of information about the goings-on in the CFL office and the Montreal Alouettes (his last two employers).
14 - Jason Gregor of the Edmonton Journal and TSN 1260 Radio lambasted CFL Commissioner Jeffrey Orridge in his Wednesday column. It was, in my opinion, far worse than anything I've written. Gregor called the CFL office "amateurish" and said Orridge has done "nothing" since he took up the job in April of 2015.
To me, that conversation is so August. I've said my piece and moved on to other things.
15 - The Regina Pats, apparently, are in the nation's Top 10 as well. I heard that talk on Wednesday but haven't seen it written anywhere. If so, that's pretty exciting but we knew they were going to be an excellent this team no matter how the national rankings went.
The Pats open the 2016-17 season at home to the P.A. Raiders on Friday night and we'll be broadcasting the SportsCage live on 620 CKRM from the Brandt Centre beginning at 4:00 pm.
Raiders GM Curtis Hunt will also join us on today's show as we preview the WHL East. Please tune in!
THAT'S ALL FOR TODAY! SEE YOU ON THE RADIO