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Regina Rams Football

Monday, August 21, 2017

OUT OF THE TUNNEL


BACK TO WORK IN RIDERVILLE

Just seven games into their season, the Saskatchewan Roughriders were dealt their second and final bye week of the season. Most of the time, instead of “dealt”, the appropriate verb used would be “welcomed” or “enjoyed”. But this time, not so much.

After dismantling the B.C. Lions in Week 8 at Mosaic Stadium, a mostly healthy and upward trending Rider club would have embraced another three or four weeks of football before another week off. Now their byes are done with and it will be 11 straight weeks of football to fight for a playoff spot in an incredibly competitive West Division.

With the players and coaches returning to the field on Monday in preparation for their biggest test of the season, let’s look at a few things we know and need to improve for the Riders to make the playoffs:

- When this Saskatchewan team is on, they can be frighteningly good. We saw a large glimpse of this against B.C. last week. Granted, the Lions were off, but for the Green and White to do what they did to a quality football club was borderline artistic. Kevin Glenn was well-protected and able to distribute the ball into the hands of his playmakers. Defensively, there was just enough pressure up-front to allow the defensive backs to make a season’s worth of defensive plays.

- To make the playoffs, the first thing you need to do is beat the teams below you in the standings. Save for a lapse of concentration in the last few minutes in Montreal, this was a mission accomplished. Now to capitalize on five more opportunities in the next 11 weeks against a woeful East Division.

- Duron Carter is the real deal. With all the questions over his signing in the off-season, it looks like Saskatchewan is the right situation for him. Fans have embraced his personality, the coaches have handled his ups and downs, and he has recaptured his 2014 form. Most of this can be attributed to maturity. He is just 26 years old, but it feels like he is a grizzled CFL veteran and he said wants to make Saskatchewan his home for a few years.

- Home Sweet Home. The new smell is still all over Mosaic Stadium, but the Riders have already made it a brutal place for visiting opponents to play. Many times (in Winnipeg most recently) it takes a while for a new stadium to feel like home, but with the help of the fans, state of the art facilities and the work the business operations team has done in marketing this season, there are no new stadium woes.

What to improve:

- Road warrior mentality. This is an over-used hockey cliché, but it’s something the Riders need to embrace if they want to get over the hump in 2017. The inconsistencies between the home and road games are glaring. The first test is a doozy this Friday night at The Brick Field at Commonwealth Stadium against the front running Edmonton Eskimos.

-  Consistency. We addressed it in the first bullet point, but with the drastic swings between road and home games, it’s tough to get a good grasp on what unit is playing well and what one needs to improve. Because of that, the Riders are right in the middle of the pack in almost every statistical category. Exhibit A: The Riders' seven turnovers last weekend (five interceptions, one fumble recovery, one turnover on downs) more than doubled the first six games combined (two fumble recoveries, two interceptions and one turnover on downs). Take last week away and they are dead last in forced turnovers.

- The injury bug. In 2016, the Riders were dealt with five seasons' worth of injuries. In 2017, they are near the bottom in man-games lost due to injury. With 11 straight weeks of football ahead of them, the injuries are going to happen and we will see what kind of depth the Riders football operations staff has accumulated.

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CFL Hits:

- The Riders will have even more to deal with on the road this week in Edmonton. John Chick is now a member of the Eskimos and, paired with Odell Willis, they will give the Green and White fits. Both move all over the defensive line and should be able to complement each other very well.

- Winnipeg may be the real deal. Knocking off the previously undefeated Edmonton Eskimos was their biggest win in the five-year history of Investors Group Field and made the West Division a four-horse race. Matt Nichols is on pace for a career year in every passing category and seems to have eliminated the inconstancies that plagued him over the first five seasons of his career.

- How bad is the East Division? The Eskimos have one less win than the four teams in the East combined. Now the Commissioner has stated he would welcome a change. Randy Ambrosie, in an interview with The National Post said, “…I also know that we have to bring modern thinking to everything about our league. I’m willing to have the conversation for sure. We have to be open-minded because the world is changing around us and we don’t want to have our heads in the sand.” It could be an interesting off-season when the CFL governors get together to discuss the future of this great league.

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THE BOYS IN THE HORNS

Can West training camps are in full swing and teams across the west will get their first taste of game action this week. Here’s how things shape up in the lone exhibition week of games in Canadian college football:

Regina Rams at Calgary Dinos (August 23rd in Medicine Hat)
Alberta Golden Bears at UBC Thunderbirds (August 23rd in Kamloops)
Saskatchewan Huskies at McMaster Marauders (August 25th in Hamilton)

Look for a mini-preview of the conference in next week’s Out of the Tunnel in preparation for the opening week of Can West football!

THE THUNDER ROLLS

The Regina Thunder bounced back nicely on home turf Saturday night, taking the Edmonton Wildcats to the woodshed 55-7. The Thunder took a 38-0 lead into the locker room at halftime and cruised from there. Ethan Hautz was solid with 120 yards rushing and a score while Kris Calcutt had 87 yards receiving on just three catches in the victory.

The Thunder will now make the long trip to Hamilton and take on the Hurricanes on Sunday afternoon.

In Winnipeg, the Saskatoon Hilltops scored 33 second-quarter points and easily knocked off the Rifles 44-0. The 2-and-0 Hilltops will welcome the Ottawa Sooners next Saturday night (7pm) at SMF Field in Saskatoon.

In other action, The Edmonton Huskies remain undefeated with a 41-14 victory over the Calgary Colts.

A CANADIAN TO WATCH IN THE NCAA

Hergy Mayala – WR
University of Connecticut
6’2” 200lbs.
Hometown – Montreal, Que.
Class – Jr.

Mayala is the top returning receiver to the Huskies. In 2016, he was the second leading receiver with 296 yards on 23 reception in a run-heavy UConn offence. As a true freshman in 2015, Mayala started five games and had seven catches for 80 yards. Before attending high school in New York, he played in Montreal’s North Shore football league.

WHAT TO DO BETWEEN GAMES THIS WEEK

High energy coaching is a take-it or leave-it situation. Players either love it, or if a situation turns bad, it can be incredibly abrasive. So many people point to the success that Bill Belichick or Nick Saban have had with their stoic, sober and impassive style that the rah-rah stuff has become a rarity football, but in college, there are still a few remnants of it. One of the most entertaining and so-far successful high energy coaches is P.J. Fleck.

If you get a chance to watch Being P.J. Fleck, please do so, he is so darn addictive it’s tough to not root for the man. After turning around Western Michigan, he has been given the job to change 50 years of mediocre Minnesota Golden Gopher football. Nothing in his life is out of bounds in this show and gives great insight on his life and what goes into a major college football program.

Row the Boat!

(RodPedersen.com Staff)

22 comments:

Anonymous said...

What is actually frightening is how well Saskatchewan can play one week, and look so putrid the next week. Lacking preparation and spirit from the coaches? Or are some of these players immature or simply not good enough? It has been interesting but not a good enough season to make the playoffs. And a further point from the perspective of frightening; yes, the Riders have a good home record thus far in what is truly a jewel of a stadium, but from an cost-benefit analysis, how can the City of Regina and Province justify spending that much money on this facility when there will be a total of 10 Rider games there in this inaugural year (1 in the preseason and 9 regular season). Pretty costly jewel for 10 out of 365 days and not much else scheduled. The health care cuts and crumbling roads could have used some of that cash...

Noneck73 said...

What channel ya a catching th PJ Fleck show?

Anonymous said...

Yes and if your going to bring acts in to the stadium , you need top notch acts, not mediocre ones. If you want to sell out.

Anonymous said...

Hey Rod, I know the Riders pay your bills so I have nothing against that. However, I don't follow the CFL closely so I look forward to the return of the Monday Morning Goalie. Do you have a correspondent for the Pats training camp that begins this week? I plan on making it to the rookie camp a few nights this week. It should be a great year. As a huge Pats fan, the earlier the Riders are out of the playoffs.......the better since it provides more coverage to the Queen City Kids. Go Pats Go.

Pats7

Anonymous said...

Well anon #1

work more, make more money, pay more taxes

that should help with the health care costs and crumbling roads

Anonymous said...

The Stadium was and is a City venture. The Province donated some money. As well as lent the City an interest free loan. Every City budget allows a percentage of our tax dollar to repair City streets. There is an incredible amount of road repair going on in Regina each summer. Every area of the City has repair happening. Trying to get to work some mornings are tricky. There is so much road construction I had to drive a couple kilometres around the back way just to get out of my own area. That was a week ago. The City of Regina continuos to work and repair very well.
If this City and Province wants to continue to grow. There has to be advancements that attract at an International level. If we want our City's real estate to hold its value the City and Province need to move forward. We have been behind the rest of the Country when it comes to infrastructure.
To say that the Stadium is only used 10 out of 365 days and not much else is scheduled is incorrect. For the 1st summer there have been several events already and more to come. Just off the top of my head there has been at least one if not two Concerts , International Soccer game; which is huge to get Mosaics name out there. University Football played and Guns and Roses coming in early October. I may have missed both past and coming events for 2017. This is pretty good for its 1st summer. Everything is still in test mode.
Regina will now be recognized for the possiblity of world class events that would never have happened in our old stadium that was inadequate in so many ways.
Some of us can't see the Forest for the trees. Time to stop thinking so small. Think about what can take place now instead of what could of happened or what should have happened. We need to grow as a City and Province. Many believe that attracting big events to the City is one of the 1st steps in attracting growth. You introduce yourself internationally through infrastructure.

Anonymous said...

Maybe it's not worth it for you, who has their hands in every benefit and when there is something nice there bitching.

Honestly I pay hefty property and prov taxes... I got no kids etc so why the hell should I have to pay? Well it's just the way it goes, and now there is a wonderful stadium I can to watch 10 games of football! And I am thankful for that.

Ndp?

-Lacksy daisy

Anonymous said...

Montreal Alouettes = SHEBOCKLING [Henry Burris]

Anonymous said...

So you couldn't find a photo of the Riders running out the tunnel?

Dan said...

Hey Rod - I was critical of this segment when it was first introduced. I found it to be poorly written with thin content. I mentioned this in a few comments to you. I now need to pass on a compliment for the improvement I see. The writing has improved, ideas have substance and are better organized. Nice job to whoever you have writing this.

Anonymous said...

Good points both ways. In building the stadium there had to be foresight to use it for more than football. Sure you can attract entertainers but not every act is suitable for outdoor stadiums nor wants to play outdoor venues. Nevertheless, the Riders desperately needed a new home to keep up with the league wide trend. With the money they generate on the football side & constant harping about being Canada's team, the old barn was a joke. Boasting about wealth & showing up in rags rings hollow - either up your game or be quiet. Now that it's built it's up to Regina to find other non-football uses for it. It's only year one but that's the next step. It's still taxpayer money so everyone has a right to demand accountability. It doesn't just belong to football fans.

Anonymous said...

If you read the blog it's about football, so who cares who's running out of the tunnel.

Anonymous said...

Blah,blah,blah! That stadium poney has been rode out of town! Go picket outside Mosaic and see what kind of reaction you get!

Anonymous said...

What's the word on Owens ? Are we gonna see him in action?

Anonymous said...

WANTED, profit generated revenue out of that stadium vs tax payer contributions. End of subject.

Anonymous said...

What they saying in Montreal;

If it wasn't for defected ball interception returned for a touchdown the Alouettes would have produced zero points on the scoreboard which hasn't happened since in very long time. Darian Durant throwing game total 93 yards embarrassing.

Anonymous said...

What they saying in Montreal;
Bad? they were putrid.

Anonymous said...

The 100th Memorial Cup final would probably sell out in the new Mosaic. I doubt I'm the first to suggest the idea.
LF

Keith Pottruff said...

Sure anon 1 they should have put $150 million into the old barn to keep it working for the next 10-15 years and then been in a position to have to spend $500 million to build a replacement then (because things never get cheaper).

The stadium is a good long term investment.

Anonymous said...

To build the stadium, there was an 80 million grant from the province and 73 million from the city of Regina. The rest of the money was from a loan (paid back by $12 a ticket facility fee) and private money.

So we're talking about 153 million dollars here folks for a stadium that will last what ..... 25-35 years minimum? it will be 10-15 before any significant reno's will be needed. Probably 20/25.

The province pays almost 10 million a year for libraries which 85 % of the population doesn't use. Should we picket that? So 200 million dollars towards libraries over 20 years.

Do libraries bring people into the city to spend 100's of thousands of dollars each year towards hotels, shopping and restaurants/bars??

If you think not building the stadium would have saved or changed any of the cuts in the budget, you're fooling yourself.

The bitching needs to stop.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure how wise it is to look toward playing eastern teams. This season could be lost with 3 straight losses to EDM and WPG before they see another Eastern team. A 3-7 after that stretch puts them in a very bad spot

Anonymous said...

Exactly.