Monday, November 6, 2017
OUT OF THE TUNNEL: PLAYOFF EDITION!
By: RodPedersen.com Staff
And they're off to the east! If all goes according to plan for Chris Jones and the Riders, they will spend the better part of the next month in eastern Canada. So, let's get to it with an early preview of the East Division semi-final.
This will be the first time the Riders will play an Ottawa team in the playoffs since the 1976 Grey Cup when the then-Rough Riders won 23-20 on the infamous Tony Gabriel touchdown on a post play in the end zone.
The Redblacks enter the playoffs with the exact 8-9-1 record they had in last season that began a run to the 2016 Grey Cup. They are also looking for their third consecutive trip to the championship game.
The Riders had a tremendous regular season, finishing with a 10-8 record, which is a five-game improvement from one season ago.
New stars came into the picture (Duron Carter, Derek Dennis), players who saw limited action in 2016 stood out in 2017 (Willie Jefferson), while some had a bounce back year (Brendon LaBatte, Bakari Grant) and others had a career year (Ed Gainey). All of the parts came together to form a very dangerous team.
The formula for success is simple: big plays in all three phases.
Use the great receiving core on offence, wreak havoc on the opposing quarterback to force sacks and turnovers, and one big play on special teams.
Seems simple, but in the playoffs, sometimes a team must grind it out and we will see if this Rider team has it in them.
The Redblacks gave the Riders fits this season. First, the Green and White frantically came from 17-points down on September 9th to escape with the 18-17 victory at TD Place Stadium. A couple weeks later, the Redblacks returned the favour at Mosaic Stadium. Trailing by 12 points with a little over six minutes remaining, Trevor Harris led Ottawa on back-to-back touchdown drives for the 33-32 victory.
The one real advantage Ottawa has is a tremendous amount of playoff experience, but not so much at quarterback. Trevor Harris was Henry Burris’s backup, watching the veteran pivot win the Grey Cup MVP in his final game as a pro. Prior to that, Harris went 9-7 as the Argos starter in place of an injured Ricky Ray. But Ray came back and played the final two games of the regular season and the playoffs.
This will be Harris’s first playoff game while on the other side of the field, Kevin Glenn (if he starts) is no stranger to the playoffs. Looking at his playoff stats (and good luck to you trying to find CFL playoff player statistics. As per usual, unless you have the PRINTED CFL guide, it’s almost impossible to find the stats. Hey CFL.ca how about making it a feature on the individual player pages?), Glenn has dressed in 15 playoff games with 11 of them being starts. He has a record of 3-7 when he is the quarterback of note.
Two of those wins came on Winnipeg’s magical run to the 2007 Grey Cup before he was hurt in the East Division finals and watched from the sidelines as the Riders took the title.
His last playoff action was a dreadful 6/18, 64-yard effort for the B.C. Lions in the 2014 West Division semi-finals.
Both pivots have had up and down seasons and have had to deal with injuries. Glenn has also been dealing with sharing time with Brandon Bridge.
One thing you can almost definitely count on: it will be a close game. In the eight games these two clubs have played since the return of Ottawa to the CFL, six of them were won by three points or less and in the final three minutes (with Saskatchewan winning five).
So Rider Nation take the week and enjoy being able to talk about the Riders and playoff football again!
The West Division semi-final is just as interesting. Winnipeg will be hosting their first playoff game since 2011 when they lost to the Eskimos in the West semi-final. Both teams are playing solid football, but there is one big question mark -- what is the health of Matt Nichols?
Nichols was hurt in a Week 19 loss at home to the B.C. Lions and sat out the season finale this past weekend in Calgary. If Nichols, who had a career season, is even 80% healthy, expect him to start.
On the other side of the football, it was nothing but a roller coaster season for Edmonton. After winning seven straight to begin the season, they followed that up with six straight losses, and are now winners of five straight. Are they a team that is finally healthy and will ride this hot streak into the Grey Cup in Ottawa, or have a mid-season flashback and fall in Winnipeg, time will tell.
But with the addition of C.J. Gable and Mike Reilly at the helm, bet on Edmonton to make yet another appearance in the West Finals.
Canada West Diary:
The Regina Rams found themselves behind the eight-ball early in their Hardy Cup semi-final game in Vancouver as the UBC Thunderbirds built up a 28-7 lead early in the third quarter.
The Rams were able to reply with a Frankie Grey one-yard plunge and a scintillating 46-yard scamper by Atlee Simon cut the lead to just seven. That was all they could muster as Canada West’s top defence shut the Rams offence down in the end to secure the 28-21 Thunderbird victory.
This is the third straight year that UBC will play in the Hardy Cup final and the third straight time they will face the Calgary Dinos when the game kicks off Saturday at McMahon Stadium.
Calgary will be playing in their 10th straight final after a 39-22 victory over the Alberta Golden Bears at home. This was coming off the heels of a 53-3 Golden Bears win a week ago over the same Dinos team.
Adam Sinagra threw for 457 yards and a touchdown in the victory for the Dinos who will be looking for their 17th Hardy Trophy.
The winner of this game will host the Mitchell Bowl and the winner of the Quebec finals between Laval and Montreal.
The Saskatoon Hilltops are preparing for the trip to Windsor and a date with the AKO Fratmen in the Canadian Bowl.
This is the ‘Toppers eighth appearance in the Canadian finals in the past 11 years (winning all eight) and are the outright favourite in this game.
The last time a team from east of Manitoba won the Canadian Bowl was in 1999 with the AKO Fratmen knocked off the Okanagan Sun 32-29.
It’s a 1 PM EST kickoff from Alumni Stadium in Windsor.
Canadian to watch in the NCAA
Dejon Brissett - WR
Hometown – Mississauga, Ont.
Class – Jr.
Brissett is having a breakout year with the Richmond Spiders. In nine games this season, the junior receiver has 62 catches (tied for 7th in FCS) for 889 yards (10th in the FCS) and seven touchdowns. He is a part of the top passing offence in the FCS (358.4 yds per game) and is helping quarterback Kyle Lauletta lead the country in passing.
Brissett played for Lake Forrest Acadamy in Illinois after starting his high school football in Ontario.