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Monday, August 28, 2017

OUT OF THE TUNNEL


WE'RE REALLY ROLLIN'

The only thing better than a win at Mosaic Stadium is a win over the Edmonton Eskimos at Commonwealth Stadium.

The Saskatchewan Roughriders did that - 54-31 on Friday - and answered so many questions in the process. The first being, “Can they win a divisional road game?”

For the first time since 2014, it was an emphatic yes, smashing the Eskimos in front of 41,378 fans (many of them rooting for the Green and White) using all three phases of the game in their victory.

A commonly used cliché in football is “defence travels” and this is what the Riders used in their victory. It was stunningly familiar fashion at home in Week 8 to defeat the B.C. Lions 41-8, beginning up front.

The front seven made Eskimo quarterback Mike Reilly’s life miserable. They made the first big play early in the first quarter on 3rd and short, forcing a Reilly fumble that was recovered by Ese Mrabure. The offence converted on the ensuing drive capped by a Glenn to Roosevelt touchdown (an incredible onehanded grab by Roosevelt).

They continued with the constant pressure as Reilly was only able to pick up 160 yards through the air and had two big interceptions that were returned for touchdowns thanks to Kacey Rogers and Jovon Johnson.

Offensively, that was what you want in a road game: no costly turnovers, chew up the clock and convert on opportunities.

And you can’t forget the punt block/recovery and touchdown by Willie Jefferson in the first quarter that gave the Riders momentum that they would never relinquish.

So…this brings us to Sunday’s Labour Day Classic. When was the last time that this game mattered? (Ok yes, no matter the records, the Labour Day Classic has ALWAYS mattered.)

It’s been so long since both teams have been at - or above - the .500 mark and jockeying for playoff position as the Classic rolls around.

You must go back to 2007 when Winnipeg entered Mosaic Stadium at 4-2-1 to face a 6-2 Riders team.  It was a Classic for the ages. Kerry Joseph passed for 348 yards and two scores, but had one of the most memorable plays in Labour Day Classic lore.

In case you weren't there or maybe forgot (though I wonder how you could forget), the Riders were in field goal position at the Winnipeg 27-yard-line in the final minute, when Joseph went up the middle on a designed quarterback draw, and was pretty much untouched as he scampered into the end zone to cap a 31-26 Rider victory.

This year, at 7-2, Winnipeg is in a three-way battle for first in the West Division with Edmonton and Calgary. Now the Riders at 4-4 are the hottest team in the CFL.

It’s shaping up to be a memorable Labour Day Classic, so let the partying begin!

A LOOK BACK AT WEEK 10

2017 may be one of the most competitive seasons in many years. Ottawa finally woke up from their Grey Cup hangover to knock off the B.C. Lions, Montreal pushed Winnipeg to the limit, Saskatchewan is clawing their way back into competition after an impressive win in Edmonton and Calgary continues to roll.

But what made this week in the CFL truly (and wonderfully) Canadian was a pair of plays:

- After the Montreal Alouettes tied up Thursday's home game against Winnipeg on a Boris Bede field goal, he kicked off to the Bombers Timothy Flanders who then lateralled it to Ryan Lankford. From there, it became very Canadian. Lankford punted the ball (a pretty solid kick) that was picked up by Bede at the Alouette 50. They only needed a  single to win it, and he hammered a punt down to the Winnipeg five. Lankford again recovered it and sent a kick the other way where it was received by Daryl Townsend. He was finally tackled to end regulation.

- The Edmonton Eskimos regained a little momentum with a one-yard Mike Reilly touchdown plunge to cut the Rider lead to 14-6 on Friday night. Hugh O’Neill missed the ensuing convert which was caught by Duron Carter three yards inside the Rider end zone. It was all Carter after that as he demoralized Edmonton with an incredible 113-yard return and a 16-6 lead.

CAN WEST FOOTBALL KICKS OFF THIS WEEKEND

The Can West football season is upon us and it all kicks off this weekend with a trio of games on September 1st (all games are a 7pm local time kickoff):

UBC at Regina
Saskatchewan at Manitoba
Calgary at Alberta

Here is a quick view at the six teams who will battle for the Hardy Trophy:

UBC Thunderbirds
Offensive player to watch – QB Michael O’Connor
Defensive player to watch – S Stavros Katsantonis

The UBC Thunderbirds lost their final regular season game in 2016 and backed into the playoffs when the Manitoba Bisons also lost on the same day. Blake Nill and the T-Birds took advantage of it and rolled all the way to the Hardy Cup but lost to the Calgary Dinos in the Can West final. They will ride the offensive connection of quarterback Michael O’Connor to wide receiver Marcus Davis on offence. Defensively they will have a solid backfield led by all-Canadian safety Stavros Katsantonis. Also look out for two-way player Trivel Pinto who may be their best athlete. The 2016 Can West all-star corner also had 273 yards receiving and is their top kick returner.

Alberta Golden Bears
Offensive player to watch – RB Ed Ilnicki
Defensive player to watch – DB Tak Landry

Head coach Chris Morris looks to lead the Golden Bears to end a long playoff drought (last appearance was 2010) and it begins with quarterback battle. Brad Baker returns from missing all of 2016 with a knee injury and looks to return to the starting spot. Ben Kopczynski filled in last season and played well. It will be up to the Golden Bear defence to step up and improve after giving up over 47 points per game.

Saskatchewan Huskies
Offensive player to watch – RB Tyler Chow
Defensive player to watch – DT Matt Kozun

After 33 seasons under the watchful eye of future hall of fame head coach Brian Towriss, the Huskies will be led by a very familiar face in Scott Flory. Flory originally joined the Huskie staff in 2014 and will have a solid grasp on what weapons he has at his disposal. Offensively, quarterback Kyle Siemens returns and will have a pair of great receivers to pass to in Mitch Hillis and Julan Lynch as well as running back Tyler Chow.

Manitoba Bisons
Offensive player to watch – RB Jamel Lyles
Defensive player to watch – DB Jayden McCoy

Graduation made a big dent in the Manitoba Bisons losing a pair of All-Canadians: lineman Geoff Gray (Green Bay Packers) and linebacker D.J. Lalama (Montreal Alouettes) but head coach Brian Dobie received a huge off-season gift. Running back Jamel Lyles returns to the fold after spending a season with the BCFC’s Westshore Rebels. Lyles was the 2015 Can West rookie of the year at Manitoba before heading back to B.C. for a record setting year.

Calgary Dinos
Offensive player to watch – QB Adam Sinagra
Defensive player to watch – LB Boston Rowe

The Dinos made it back to the Vanier Cup for the 10th time in team history but were unable to outlast Laval, losing 31-26. Head coach Wayne Harris will lose a lot on offence to graduation, but it should be in good hands with third year pivot Adam Sinagra. The other side of the football will be daunting for Can West opponents. They return Can West all-stars Boston Rowe (LB), Jack McEwen (DT) and Adam Laurensse (DB) as well as their second leading tackler from a year ago, Michah Teitz.

Regina Rams
Offensive player to watch – QB Noah Picton
Defensive player to watch – LB Danny Nesbitt

When you return the defending Hec Creighton award winner at quarterback, you are already a step ahead of the game. Second year head coach Steve Bryce has that luxury with Noah Picton. In 2016, he put up video game numbers en route to being named Canada’s top university football player and he will have many of his weapons returning to the fold. Defensively, a pair of all-conference players return with leading tackler Danny Nesbitt and defensive back Jeff Propp.

JUNIOR REPORT

The Regina Thunder made the long trip to Hamilton on the weekend to face the Hurricanes in CJFL interleague play. Hamilton took an early 7-0 lead, but it was all Thunder after that, to the tune of 61 straight points for an easy road 61-7 victory.

Thunder QB Sawyer Buettner threw for 498 yards and six touchdowns. Both are #2 all-time in PFC history.

In the other interleague game, the Saskatoon Hilltops welcomed the Ottawa Sooners in their home opener at SMF Field. Logan Fischer ran for 137 yards and four touchdowns in the 49-21 Hilltop victory.

In other PFC action, Winnipeg went on the road and knocked off the Edmonton Wildcats 25-17 and the Edmonton Huskies picked up the 55-27 victory over the Calgary Colts.

Week 4 in the PFC:

Saturday
Calgary Colts at Winnipeg Rifles
Edmonton Wildcats at Edmonton Huskies

A CANADIAN TO WATCH IN THE NCAA

David Knevel – RT
University of Nebraska
6’9” 315lbs.
Hometown – Brantford, Ont.
Class – Rs-Sr.

Knevel was pegged to start as the Cornhuskers right tackle to begin the 2016 season. He started in eight games before missing three games late in the season with an ankle injury. He will be part of a veteran offensive line that will help Nebraska fight Iowa and Wisconsin for top spot in the Big Ten’s West Division.  Knevel was the first Canadian recruit since Patrick Kobongo in 1999.

WHAT TO DO BETWEEN GAMES THIS WEEK:

With the USports football season set to begin this weekend, the PFC in full swing and high schools starting two-a-days this week a great place to keep up to date on everything Canadian Football is Canadian Football Chat (canadianfootballchat.com).

CFC.com will give you everything from the top high school teams in the country, USports football news, NCAA prospects and so much more.

A couple of warnings before heading there, much of their premium information is by subscription and there is no coverage of the CJFL. Other than that it’s a fantastic resource for many up-and-coming university and CFL stars.

(RodPedersen.com Staff)

33 comments:

Anonymous said...

It was 54 to 31 and Winnipeg is the hottest team with a 5 game winning streak.

Anonymous said...

This is for the guys that were bashing Darian Durant after Montreal's loss on Thursday night.

DD threw 3 touchdown passes but Montreal lost so it's Darian's fault.

As the weekend played out Ricky Ray, Mike Reilly and Jonathon Jennings combined to throw ZERO(zilch)touchdown passes but that was their O-lines fault.

Go figure.

Anonymous said...

You nailed it again Rod, 3 plays that were the turning point early in the game, the blocked punt by Jefferson, and the incredible end zone to end zone run by Carter(Tsn shows he ran 140+ yards to get that), and the one handed touchdown grab by Roosevelt, all 3 plays set the tone and showed Edmonton in their own house, Riders are ready and willing to play.
Great job on CJ to have them ready like that.

Rod Pedersen said...

A reminder: I didn't write the article!

Anonymous said...

It's the Hardy Cup.

Anonymous said...

If you used a by-line everyone would know who wrote the article. Give credit where credit is due.

Angela Dblcoverage said...

Did JA write it? Very good read.

Anonymous said...

Totally agree. When Jones made the comments about Durant on his way out of town, so many "fans" sided with Jones, who at the time had done nothing here and turned their back on Durant, who had done so much for this franchise, including winning one of their four Grey Cups.

Anonymous said...

Durant also threw 2 interceptions that contributed to the loss

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't say the Riders are the hottest team in the CFL. 2 convincing wins in a row...yes! Calgary and Winnipeg have both one 5 in a row. When the Riders hit this mark, then you can make that statement. I predict the Riders win Labour Day in a close one and the Bombers return the favour in the Banjo Bowl.

Rod Pedersen said...

The byline is at the bottom of the column. The writer does not want to be identified.

CM said...

Riders have the confidence and athletes to crush the Peg. I haven't been a Jones supporter as GM but give credit where its due. He has brought in great athletes and putting Campbell in at OT has created a solid o-line and Glenn has looked even sharper with the protection. Not sure why the post game guys bash Carter, Like McCullough lol. Carter is an NFL talent. Who cares that he talks. So does OBJ you don't hear him being ragged by ex Giants.

Brin Werrett said...

Thanks for the coverage Rod. Thunder are actually on a bye week. Up in Saskatoon on Saturday Sept 9

Some mistakes from the stats in Hamilton. Brock Sich was in for Buettner on two of those TDs and about 80 yards. They are making a correction.

BombersJets said...

Likewise the Bombers will be brimming with confidence and have just as much possibility of crushing Sask. Either way, if the LBD is anything like Canada Day it's going to be one heck of an entertaining game

Anonymous said...

Re: Carter & post game commentary:

Keep in mind that Mike McCullough took years of verbal abuse from trash-talking CFL receivers/opponents so it is not at all surprising that he would be one to turn his nose up on players like Carter who like to be chirpy towards defensive players. You need to walk a mile in someone's shoes ...

Anonymous said...

If Carter is an NFL talent why isn't he in the NFL?

Anonymous said...

Did Jennings, Riley and Ray's peformances contribute to their teams losses?

Anonymous said...

The NFL isn't gender neutral.

Anonymous said...

Nobody revisits the past more than the Riders. The only thing they do more is over exaggerate the present. Two game winning streak - we're the greatest. In the West the other 4 have all had longer winning streaks. It doesn't take much to go the other way. It's great to celebrate success but let's get some perspective. The same goes with Rider greats. Durant's image looks down from Mosaic for a reason but now he's a bum??? Lancaster - the same thing. We couldn't run him out of town fast enough as a coach but went on to coach the TiCats & Eskimos to the Grey Cup. In Regina we celebrate the past & still spit out those heroes who created the memories. Time to show some class & leave Durant, Dressler, Chick & Getzlaf be. They've moved on & are fine where they are. No need to knock them down because they're not wearing green. THEY didn't abandon the team. They were told to leave. Show some class.

Anonymous said...

"THEY didn't abandon the team. They were told to leave. Show some class."

Greatest post ever on here.

Anonymous said...

Factoid;

Saskatchewan Roughriders have the best defense in the CFL.

Anonymous said...

Can't wait for the Peg fans to show up to Labour Day and start chirping.

This is going to be good. Season ticket holders still selling their seats - price range - $137 - $743.

Go Riders Go

Anonymous said...

Excellent post. I could not agree more. Team heroes do not need to be replaced but rather we should let them accumulate. I find it extremely embarrassing how this fan base treats leaving players and coaches, and has done so for years. There is a welcome wagon mentality when they come and after being here for several years, often very successfully, they are told to not let the door hit them on the way out. Whether it was Lancaster, Durant, Dressler, Chick, Getxlaf or whoever, they all deserved so much better than that. Somehow "class" seems to shrivel and die in the prairie sun.

Anonymous said...

What a bunch of BS. Durant was average at best and had some great moments. He one a cup, but lost two. His pick in OT was so telegraph I would have made that read. Riders live in the past is complete hog wash. This team has exactly the type of personality at the top it takes for sustained success. The same as a Matthews, Huff or Buono. When we realize this there are going to be a lot of bandwagon Rider fans who will be getting splinters they'll want to jump on so fast. Can't wait for Sunday. Go Riders.

Morgan said...

Except for the fact that Darian Durant missed a bunch of wide open receivers in their loss including a key one in the dying seconds of regulation! He had Ernest Jackson wide open and underthrew him badly. However, he did get them all tied up in the first OT with a beauty pass on that corner route. Durant is the same guy now as he was on 2009. He makes a bunch of big plays but also some really bad ones!

Anonymous said...

So why do these caustic clowns have to trash someone from a game that the Riders weren't even in?
Sounds like they are hanging on to the past.

Anonymous said...

Nice CBC story on how Durant is in 1st place as most popular person for people of our province. He is still #1 in the heart of Rider Nation.

Anonymous said...


Rod, you didn't even make that list for most popular person in the province. Guess that shows what a nobody you are.

Lewis Grant said...

That Kerry Joseph play to end LDC 2017 was magical. Also one of my all-time Rider favourites.

True, we probably would have won the game anyways on a short field goal. But the play was so surprising, dramatic, and emphatic.

Anonymous said...

According to a story on the radio, when the question was asked of who is the most hated person in the province, Brad Trost came in first and Chris Jones came in second. Might have something to do with how he treated Durant, the most popular person. After all, Jones, numbers don't lie.

Anonymous said...

What does anything Durant does in Mtl, or Dressler in Wpg & so on have to do with what they did as Riders? How does that diminish their contributions here? We got some good new players, great. Apples & oranges. Get over your need to bash past players. They're gone. Time for YOU to move on.

Anonymous said...

Nice CBC story on how Durant is in 1st place as most popular person for people of our province. He is still #1 in the heart of Rider Nation.



Most people CBC polls and interviews wouldn't know the difference between a baseball and a football, and probably think Durant is still on the Riders

Anonymous said...

They still knew enough to put Jones at the bottom