Monday, October 2, 2017
OUT OF THE TUNNEL
THEY DON'T ASK "HOW?", THEY ASK "HOW MANY?"
You could call the Riders' 18-17 road victory over the Ottawa Redblacks many things, but in the end, it’s like every other win -- two points in the column.
The "how" is a different story. One side would say that the Redblacks turned away from an effective offensive game plan, gifted a turnover, and pretty much gift-wrapped the game to the Riders.
Others will look at this as a classic come-from-behind, grind it out road victory.
But it really doesn’t matter how you look at it, because the good and the bad are the same.
The good saw the Green and White offence finally come alive in the fourth quarter with a couple of scoring drives. One was bolstered by a pair of huge Duron Carter catches before finishing with a Kienan LaFrance TD run, and the other saw Rob Bagg come up with his best catch of the season to set up the game-tying field goal.
Before those two drives, it appeared that Kevin Glenn was a bad series away from being replaced. Head coach Chris Jones stuck with Glenn through the first three quarters and when it counted, his trust was rewarded with the two scoring drives. If things continue to roll along for the Riders into the playoffs and a possible run to the Grey Cup, this is a key point of the season. Kevin Glenn could struggle again at certain points of some games down the stretch, but he can be assured that the leash isn’t short and he play without that worry.
It was great to see the Rider special teams rewarded with a couple of big plays: Christion Jones’ 97-yard punt return provided the momentum shift to the Riders, and the game winning point came from punter Josh Bartel.
Two of the three phases, defence and special teams, held the Riders in the game until the offence figured it out. It’s a sign of a team that is rounding into form.
There were a few black marks. Even with the two big fourth quarter drives, the Rider offence was abysmal. Through three quarters, Kevin Glenn had 92 yards through the air (but after a wild fourth quarter, had 252) and the Riders rushed for just 43 yards. In the back stretch of the season, they cannot go into a funk like this again.
Another sore spot was the run defence. William Powell had 186 yards on the ground before the Redblacks unexpectedly stopped feeding him the football. It wasn’t the amount of yardage, it was the fact that they were gashed for an average of over seven-yards per carry. This needs to be sealed in a hurry because this weekend James Wilder and the Toronto run offence has been solid to the tune of 380 yards and two touchdowns over the last three games.
Despite all of this, in the end they don’t ask how, just how many.
Heading into the final five games of the season, a home playoff date is pretty much out of the question, but with Edmonton and B.C. playing poorly the past few weeks, third place is starting to look like a definite possibility.
There are many grumbling that it would be a more beneficial route for the Riders to place fourth and go through the East Division via the crossover. To purposefully tank for a playoff spot rarely works out, and we here at “Out of the Tunnel” do not like messing with karma. If the Riders continue to play well, good things will happen, no matter where they play their potential playoff game.
- Kavis Reed … blink once to stay alive, blink twice to pull the plug. His Montreal Alouettes are a dumpster fire with no end in sight. It was so bad in their 59-11 loss to Calgary, a quarterback named Matt Shiltz came in relief of starter Drew Willy. To quote Harry Doyle from Major League, “We don't know where Shiltz played last year, but I'm sure he did a hell of a job.” Please, just end the Als season right now and give them the first overall pick in the 2018 CFL Draft.
- The Eskimos cannot seem to break out of their tailspin. Winnipeg handed Edmonton their sixth loss in a row with the 28-19 victory at Commonwealth Stadium. They are beginning to get healthy, but is it too late to climb out of this funk? Right now, they are in a tie with Saskatchewan for third in the West and two points ahead of B.C. but if this continues, that will evaporate quickly.
- When watching games in the East Division, there is one thing that sticks out; all four teams have both home and visiting teams on the same sideline. This is a travesty to football and is a cauldron for potential trouble.
Ottawa has a refurbished stadium and to not install room on both sidelines is insane. Yes, soccer set up is an argument, but ... don't care! U.S. stadiums are multi-purpose with the MLS and they keep football teams on opposing sidelines. Hamilton, Toronto and Montreal have the same amount of room on opposing sidelines and can easily have teams on opposing sidelines. There are a few rumours out there, but the prevailing one is that CFL head office LIKES having both teams on one sideline because of the ability to sell ads on those digital ribbon boards on the field. There was also whispers that they asked to have both teams on one sideline when Mosaic Stadium was built however you can thank the football gods the Rider front office politely told the league: thanks but no thanks.
The biggest problem is the potential of heated confrontations between teams. Remember when Duron Carter was suspended last July when he ran into Redblacks head coach Rick Campbell? Admittedly, Carter was a little over the top with his emotions, but he ran into Campbell at the 18(!) yard-line. If the teams were on opposite side lines, this would not have happened and the CFL wouldn’t have this black mark.
Canada West Diary:
The game of the week was in Saskatoon and saw the Regina Rams (3-2) pick up a huge 50-40 road victory over the Saskatchewan Huskies (2-3). Noah Picton rebounded from his three-interception performance a week ago by throwing for 384-yards and five touchdowns while adding a rushing score. Atlee Simon had his best game of the season for the Rams with 162-yards rushing. The Huskies quarterback Kyle Siemens matched Picton throw for throw with 489 yards through the air and five touchdowns. The win propelled the Rams into a tie for second in Canada West with the UBC Thunderbirds while the Huskies are now alone in fourth.
The Alberta Golden Bears won their first road game since September 4th, 2015 (29-22 in Regina) taking out the Manitoba Bisons 36-25. Alberta had almost 600 yards of total offence led by Ed Ilnicki’s incredible 44 carry, 278-yard performance.
The Calgary Dinos continue to roll along the Canada West season. The country’s second ranked team went on the road and disposed of the streaking UBC Thunderbirds 31-17. The loss ended the T-Birds three game winning streak. Dinos’ quarterback Adam Sinagra continued his strong showing with 351 yards passing and three touchdowns.
Canada West will take the Thanksgiving weekend off before returning to action on October 14th.
With the playoffs around the corner, the Regina Thunder ended their home schedule with a 33-15 win over the Calgary Colts. The win all but seals the Thunder’s playoff fate as their 5-and-2 record will see them finish third in the PFC.
At SMF Field, the Saskatoon Hilltops crushed the Edmonton Wildcats 55-0. The win sets a great end to the regular season. Saskatoon will head on the road to Edmonton and face the undefeated Huskies who easily handled the Winnipeg Rifles Saturday afternoon 33-15.
Saturday, October 7th (all times local):
Regina Thunder at Winnipeg Rifles 7:00pm
Saskatoon Hilltops at Edmonton Huskies 7:00pm
Sunday, October 8th:
Calgary Colts at Edmonton Wildcats 1:00pm
Canadian to watch in the NCAA
Brady Oliveira – RB
Hometown – Winnipeg, Mb.
Class – Jr.
The junior had a breakout season for the Fighting Hawks in 2016. In split-duty, he had 897 yards rushing and 10 touchdowns with his best game coming against Montana State. In that game, he had 171-yards on the ground and a pair of touchdowns.
In 2017, the Winnipeg native already had a pair of 100-yard games including this past weekend. Oliveira picked up 107 yards in North Dakota’s 48-24 loss to UC Davis.