It wasn’t pretty, but the Saskatchewan Roughriders hit the ground running in the 2018 season by grinding out a 27-19 victory over the Toronto Argonauts Friday night at Mosaic Stadium.
The victory was very familiar to how the Green & White won their games in 2018; simple and safe on offence and relying on the big play on defence.
There are still a lot of kinks to iron out throughout the game plan, but the first two or three games of the CFL season are like an extended preseason so there shouldn't be any real judgment on what this -or any team in the CFL - will look like until Weeks 5 or 6.
|Famoso Hill Centre|
1881 Scarth St., Regina
- 1-0: This is all that anyone should care about. Picking up their first win of the season over the defending Grey Cup champions, a team the knocked them off in the East Division final and to do it in front of a home crowd is nothing but all positive.
- Defence does it again: Just like in 2018, the Saskatchewan Roughriders played a bend-but-not-break defence with a few huge plays sprinkled in-between. Newcomers Charleston Hughes and Nick Marshall were front and centre in this. Hughes picked up three sacks, four tackles and a fumble recovery while Marshall made the play of the game with his interception for a touchdown of a poorly thrown Ricky Ray pass late in the football game.
- Good at QB: Zach Collaros was incredibly efficient in his first start for the Riders. His 18-for-25, 203 yard passing performance wasn’t amazing, but it was just good. Nothing was incredibly adventurous offensively (more on that later), he didn’t get in any trouble and ended up connecting with nine different targets. It was just enough to win the game, which is all anyone can want.
Here are the things to work on:
- Wilting in the fourth: The defence was incredible in the first half of the game, but in the fourth quarter, the group really starting to bow. If it wasn’t for Marshall’s interception (which many say would have been called back if Argonauts head coach Marc Trestman had challenged for pass interference), the game may have had another ending.
- Sticking too long with the run: This offence is a run-first team (incredibly rare in today’s CFL), but almost to a fault. Jerome Messam lugged the ball 21 times for 74 yards. Take away the 11-yard carry late in the fourth, the Canadian freight train averaged just a paltry 3.1 yards per carry.
Because of the Riders' current ratio situation we will see a lot of Messam for the first little bit of the season. Lets hope they don’t wear out a player that would be key when the weather turns in the fall.
What is needed is more Tre Mason. Take away his first half fumble, it was a solid debut for the former Auburn Tiger.
- Nothing down field offensively: Above we mentioned how safe the game plan was for Zach Collaros. It was so safe that there were only three plays with pass attempts of over 15 yards through the air: 16 yards to Duron Carter in the first quarter, the 35-yard attempt to Carter a few plays later, and the chuck-and-duck completion (34 yards, 30 of it in the air) to Caleb Holley midway through the second quarter.
This will not win football games as the season progresses. There are so many weapons in this offence so things will surely come around over the next few games.
Next up for the Riders is a long road trip to Ottawa. It’s been a very friendly place for the Green and White over the last couple of seasons including the East Division semi-final a year ago.
They will also have the advantage of having a game under their belt as the Redblacks had a week one bye and will still have some rust on both sides of the ball. It will also be interesting to see how Trevor Harris will play after suffering a knee-injury early in the preseason.
Other CFL notes:
- Even with two epic lightning delays in the Edmonton-at-Winnipeg game on Thursday, the lid-lifter of the CFL season was the most entertaining game of the week. Mike Reilly and the Eskimos offence looks like they have that high-risk, high-reward offence cooking with over 400 yards passing and a 70% completion percentage.
Winnipeg also looked solid even with their raw rookie at the helm. Chris Streveler was ok, but with the help of Andrew Harris solid game along the ground and a few big plays, the Bombers almost pulled it out. With Calgary and B.C. winning this week, the West will be a fight to the very end in 2018.
- Speaking of Calgary and B.C. both winning this week along with the Rider victory, the West Division went 3-0 against the East in Week 1 of the CFL season. All four games in Week 2 will be East-versus-West match-ups with the East playing host in three of them. Let’s see if it holds up.
- There were no 100-yard rushers in Week 1. The leader out of the gate is CFL rookie Don Jackson. The 24-year-old’s 87-yards and a score were key to the Stampeders 28-14 victory over the Hamilton Tiger Cats. There were only 25, 100-yard rushing performances in 2017, and it will be interesting if this drops again in 2018.
A Canadian To Watch In NCAA
As we did all last season, we'll give you a player to watch in the NCAA, and we will do it again in 2018. It’s a good prep to see what is coming down the pipe for the 2019 and future CFL drafts.
NG – Oklahoma (Rs.-Jr.)
St. Catherine’s, Ont.
High School – Canada Prep Football Academy
The redshirt junior will anchor a veteran Sooner defensive line in 2018. In 2018, the sophomore started five of 12 games and has played in 25 games over his college career. Gallimore was the high ranked Canadian high school player in 2015 by ESPN, SCOUT and Canadian Football Chat.
(By: RodPedersen.com Staff)