Monday, August 7, 2017
OUT OF THE TUNNEL
BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD
The opening third of the season is in the books and at 2-4, this is already a huge hole for a desperate Saskatchewan Roughriders Football Club.
Before looking back on what's happened, we would be remiss if we didn't remind everyone that this team has made considerable strides from what it looked like a year ago. The problem is that the teams the Riders are chasing continue to play well in a soul-crushingly good West Division. Any improvement has the feel of two steps forward, one step back.
Coming on the heels of yet another disappointing West Division road loss in Vancouver, many must wonder when this team will turn the corner.
To summarize the season to date: two wins (Toronto and Hamilton), two narrow losses where the wins seemed to just be snatched from their grip (Winnipeg and Montreal) and two blowout losses (Calgary and B.C.). It’s the road losses against the Stampeders and Lions that have Rider fans talking the most.
Saturday night was difficult to watch. If it wasn’t for a "Bend But Don’t Break" Rider defence, it could have been considerably worse on the scoreboard.
So, let’s begin with the Rider defence.
This is a unit that has made vast improvements from a year ago, but some of the same issues are popping up. Beginning with a defensive line that is in the bottom third in the CFL in sacks and pressures (and allowed B.C. to roll up a 200-yard rushing game). To make any headway with the West Division front-runners, this is the unit that needs to step up and be the difference makers.
Success with the front-four (or three depending on the package) will help to fix another blight on the defence -- lack of turnovers. This unit needs to create one or two more big plays a game for long-term success.
Those one or two big plays would mean a few more possessions a game for a Rider offence that has had a tough time finding the end zone. Kevin Glenn needs to be the man to help lead the way for the offence. He has earned the right to do this and is best equipped to do so, but help is needed.
It begins up front. Luc Mullinder nailed it on the Rider Radio Network postgame show that it was both the offensive and defensive fronts that should bear most of the blame for the loss in B.C. and in Calgary. This is an offence that is at its best (like most offences) when they can mix in the run with regularity.
Brandon Bridge has earned the right, at some time in the not-so-distant future, to start a game. Let's see what kind of quarterback he can truly be in the CFL. This is a pivot that is probably not the best (or even average) passer, but he may be the best thrower of the football in the CFL. Bridge’s considerable arm talent has always been on display when he enters a game.
Rider fans have seen him three times: the final game of the 2015 season in Montreal in his only CFL start against Saskatchewan, the final game of last season in B.C. and this past Saturday night (also, in B.C.).
In those three games, Bridge is a tidy 37-47, 454 yards and four touchdowns with no interceptions.
But now is not the time. Kevin Glenn needs to lead the way through the well-publicized gauntlet of the next four games that will end with the Labour Day rematch in Winnipeg.
OTHER WEEK 7 NOTES
- Good for Hamilton to bounce back from their 60-1 loss a week ago and come ever so close to knocking off Edmonton from the ranks of the undefeated. The Eskimos continue to find a way and everyone is waiting for them to break. They currently have 18(!) players on the 6-game injured list -- nine of them Canadians. There will be a time when they slip because of injuries, but on the flip side, how good will they be when they have a fully healthy roster?!
- With the woes of the East Division again this season, there have been whispers on social media to have the league dispose of divisional play and go to a full league playoff format. It is logical to have the top six teams in the CFL make the playoffs but is it right, or good for the health of the league?
- Finally, welcome back to the CFL Ricky Foley! The Canadian defensive end was released by the Argos before training camp in May (more than likely let go before a bonus was owed) and was signed by the Lions early Sunday morning. The fan-favourite will be in Regina next week on the Lions d-line.
- A great weekend of football ahead begins with a game that all eyes of junior football will be watching. The defending Canadian champion Saskatoon Hilltops will make their way to Mosaic Stadium Saturday night to face the Regina Thunder. It’s a rematch of last year’s PFC semi-final that saw the Hilltops escape SMF Field at Gordie Howe Bowl with the 25-24 win. It’s a 7pm kickoff.
- CanWest Football camps will start to open over the next week. The University of Regina Rams first action will be on the road in Medicine Hat on August 23rd to face the Calgary Dinos while the University of Saskatchewan Huskies will head to Hamilton on August 25th to take on the McMaster Marauders.
A CANADIAN TO WATCH IN THE NCAA
Peter Godber – LG
Hometown – Toronto, Ont.
Class – RS-Sr.
Godber has been a mainstay on the Owl offensive line since his redshirt sophomore year starting 23 of 24 games. The only game he missed was last season against Southern Mississippi with a shoulder injury. It was also the only game he has missed in his entire college career.
WHAT TO DO BETWEEN GAMES THIS WEEK
This will just take a few minutes from your week, but head to Bruce Feldman’s column from his tour of NCAA media days. Specifically, the first entry about Purdue quarterback David Blough and his speech from the Big Ten’s annual Kickoff Luncheon. It’s why we all love football.
Enjoy the week and let's have some fun Sunday night at Mosaic Stadium!!!!
(By RodPedersen.com Staff)