BY: RODPEDERSEN.COM STAFF
The Saskatchewan Roughriders used Sunday afternoon to knock off the bye week cobwebs and get ready for their rematch with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats on Thursday night in the Hammer (5:30 pm Sask Time, TSN, 620 CKRM Radio Network).
The bye came just in time. After a four-week training camp and the first four weeks of the season, this was a welcome break for all involved. But it also means the end of the extended preseason.
Like the rest of the CFL, with how short training camp is, the first four or five weeks of the season feel and look like the preseason.
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They have three weeks before another bye, and if Saskatchewan sleep-walks through this stretch and lose all three, it puts them in a huge hole with the current parity in the CFL. If the Riders are able to pull out three wins, they would be well on their way to a coveted home playoff berth.
The work week began with the announcement that Brandon Bridge will be starting in Hamilton. This is good on many levels. It shows the coaching staff has confidence in him to continue to start. Also, it may help for Bridge to start on the road when all eyes are on the home team.
Bridge has to let it fly Thursday night and not care if he gets pulled for David Watford because, if Bridge is slow to start, he’ll get pulled. If he makes mistakes he’ll get pulled. No matter what he does other than have a solid game, he will probably get pulled. Leave it all on the field and whatever happens, let it happen. That’s the approach Bridge will need to take.
The next question is: What happens if Bridge falters again? Will David Watford get his chance to make some mistakes and stay in the game, or will it once again be the maddening rotation of pivots? Sure, that works sometimes, and it may get them to a place to where Zach Collaros is ready to get back. But if Collaros gets dinged up again, it’s a system that rarely, if ever works in professional football.
One thing that Rider fans have not worried about is the stout Rider defence and they will be heavily leaned upon to play great again. The Hamilton offence will be much better than the one we all saw at Mosaic Stadium 10 days ago.
It’s tough to rely on the defence week after week, especially the way the Rider-D plays. They are not your classic bend-but-don’t-break, grind it out defence. It’s a group that thrives on the big play to turn things around. With three turnovers taken to the end zone for scores, they have provided a heavy dose of the scoring.
It’s a luxury that most teams don’t have, but to lean on the hope for the defence to continue to score week-after-week is a tenuous game-plan.
A cure for everything mentioned above is a great running game. It’s something we haven’t seen yet this season and a 100-yard game by any one of the Rider runners would mean extended drives to rest the defence. It would also open up the passing game, relieve the pressure on Brandon Bridge, and it would also give the offensive line the growing confidence needed to continue on this season.
A win Thursday would be a huge boost before hosting the currently undefeated and yet again the class of the CFL, the Calgary Stampeders on July 28th.
- It was yet another week of some ugly football. If anyone told you that you need just 20 points to win a CFL game, you would look at that person funny. This week was one of those weeks. The fourth quarter of Saturday night’s battle in Vancouver saved Week 5. If not for the Lions comeback win, the week was flatter than a plate of water.
The whole season has been flat. Why so? Look no further than quarterback play. Calgary and Edmonton have had great play while those chasing them in the west have had to deal with either mediocre play (B.C.), an injury to their starter (Winnipeg) or both (Saskatchewan).
- With Travis Lulay’s 326-yard passing game in Saturday night’s win over the Blue Bombers, it now leaves the Saskatchewan Roughriders as the lone team without either a 100-yard rushing game, 100-yard receiving game, or 300-yard passing game this season.
- There were a pair of 100-yard rushers in Week 5. Calgary’s Don Jackson picked up 102-yards in a win over Ottawa and Winnipeg’s Andrew Harris rolled up 139-yards in the loss to B.C. So, teams with a 100-yard rushing game are now 7-2 thus far in 2018.
- There were only three games in Week 5. There are two more weeks remaining with just three games, weeks nine and 14.
K – Connecticut (RS-Jr.)
High School – Canisius
Tarbutt had his best season as a college player in 2017 connecting on 12-of-18 field goal attempts with a long of 52-yards. He was 2-for-2 on field goals 50-yards or longer for the Huskies.
Originally from Ontario, Tarbutt finished his high school career with Canisius in Buffalo, New York.
He is one of four Canadians with the UConn Huskies; Phillipe Okounam (OL-Chateauguay, Que.), Hergy Mayala (WR – Montreal) and Lwal Uguak (DE – Edmonton).