This is the collective thought of Rider Nation today, and more than likely the Saskatchewan Roughrider organization. A commanding 41-8 victory on Sunday over a B.C. Lions team that dominated the Riders just a week ago.
Everything that has gone wrong for the Green & White over the first six games of the season seemed to be righted for at least one night.
The defence led the way. They were able to get pressure on all three B.C. quarterbacks forcing them into a vast array of mistakes. Much of this was with the help of a Rider secondary that had their best game of the season, and maybe the best since early in the 2014 campaign.
Leading the way was Ed Gainey who had a once-in-a-lifetime game with four interceptions -- nearly doubling his total career interceptions -- once for a touchdown, a fumble recovery, and a pair of tackles.
Offensively, it was a workman-like effort. The offensive line kept Kevin Glenn upright and efficient averaging over 10 yards per pass attempt while not having a completion longer than 39 yards.
This was tied for the most points scored and least given up by the Riders in the Chris Jones era and is only the second time during his tenure that they have defeated a West Division opponent (September 18th, 2016 when they knocked off Edmonton 23-20 in overtime at home).
As the Riders head into the second bye-week flying high, many will pause to wonder: “So which Rider team will show up in Edmonton on August 25th?”
We will only know when they step on to the Brick Field at Commonwealth Stadium turf. Will it be the swarming defence and efficient offence we saw against B.C.? Or a Rider team that hasn’t defeated a West Division team on the road since Chris Jones took over the reins of the Riders? I guess we will have to wait and see.
This may be the most frustrating part of following this team during the 2017 season; at one time the Riders look like Grey Cup contenders, then a game later they are fighting to climb out of the West basement.
OTHER WEEK 8 NOTES
- Edmonton continues their undefeated run while on the road for a 27-20 victory in Ottawa. It’s been repeated over and over again that it’s amazing the Eskimos can do that with all their serious injuries. It will be an interesting match-up next week when they visit a surprisingly good Winnipeg team coming off an easy win in Hamilton.
- The West could seal the crossover bid by the end of September. The Lions are currently four wins ahead of a one-win Ottawa team for that third-place spot in the East. It should be noted that the Riders would be tied for first in the East with Toronto at 3-4.
- With only a single win in eight starts, the REDBLACKS' Trevor Harris is the CFL’s leading passer.
- In a weird schedule quirk, just nine weeks into the season, the Riders will be on their second bye week. B.C., Toronto, and Ottawa have yet to enjoy a week off.
Interesting opening week in the PFC with all eyes on Mosaic Stadium for the first of two-regular season match-ups between the Saskatoon Hilltops and the Regina Thunder.
It wasn’t pretty by any means; the Hilltops were able to overcome a myriad of penalties in the first half (including four objectionable conduct penalties) to take the 22-8 lead at the half and cruised to a 37-20 victory.
The Thunder were handcuffed by mistakes all over the field including troubles between the long-snapper and punter, turnovers, missed tackles and dropped balls.
But … if you want to see a level of football where you will notice incredible improvement from week to week, it’s the Prairie Football Conference. It’s hands down the best junior league in Canada and will yet again win the Canadian Bowl for the eighth-straight time (unless the second coming of Andrew Harris is playing for the Vancouver Island Raiders).
If you want a little proof of the discrepancy currently between the PFC and Ontario Football Conference (yes, the BCFC is very competitive), look at the inter-conference games this week.
The Winnipeg Rifles and Edmonton Huskies went on the road and beat up on the Ottawa Sooners and Windsor AKO Fratmen (51-0 and 30-7). This may sting for the folks out in Ontario, but for the health of junior football in Canada, this is a good thing. Inter-conference games will improve the play in Ontario and hopefully build a larger appetite for players who can’t/won’t play USports football in that province to play after their high school careers are over.
The Calgary Colts knocked off the Edmonton Wildcats 18-10 in the other PFC game this week.
This week in the Prairie Football Conference:
Edmonton Wildcats at Regina Thunder (7pm)
Calgary Colts at Edmonton Huskies (7pm)
Saskatoon Hilltops at Winnipeg Rifles (1pm)
CanWest football teams have reported for duty this week, and so begins the long road to the Vanier Cup.
The University of Regina Rams will prep for a pre-season date against the defending Hardy Cup champion Calgary Dinos -- August 23rd in Medicine Hat.
The University of Saskatchewan Huskies will make the long trip to Hamilton to face McMaster on August 25th.
Out of the Tunnel will do a CanWest mini-preview before the season kicks-off on the Labour Day long-weekend.
A Canadian To Watch In The NCAA:
Sheridan Lawley - DT
University of Connecticut
Hometown – Abbotsford, B.C.
Class – RS-Jr.
Lawley saw significant playing time as a redshirt sophomore in 2016 playing in all 12 games for the Huskies and was named the teams’ most improved player. He is pegged as the starter at defensive tackle for the 2017 season. After finishing his high school career in B.C., Lawley played a season of prep school football in New Jersey.
What To Do Between Games This Week:
With a few days between CFL and NFL games, let’s take a bit of a dive into football analytics:
If you want the deep dive, your first stop is Football Outsiders (www.footballoutsiders.com). It may be your only stop because it’s incredibly heady stuff.
For example, one of their staples is team defence efficiency or their defence-adjusted value over average (DVOA) system. It’s difficult to explain, so just head there.
If you want a little more of a CFL flavour, give TSN anchor, Derek Taylor (@DTonSC) a follow on Twitter. This is one of the rare Canadian sports media folks that truly loves the CFL. He loves it so much, he offers some interesting analytics and gives CFL fans some food for thought. Derek is on the right track to helping give a little more insight in the game.
Enjoy the bye week everyone!!