Preview : Riders at REDBLACKS
Published: Monday, Mar 19th 2018, 5:57 pm
By: Stephen Safinuk (@Safimod)
Since starting the season 2-4, the Riders have been on a bit of a roll, winning 4 while suffering losses to Calgary and Winnipeg to even their record to 6-6. Meanwhile, the Ottawa REDBLACKS are on a similar 6 game stretch (4-2) while losing to Winnipeg and Hamilton, and beating up on Montreal twice.
At 5-8-1, the Ottawa REDBLACKS sit 5 points up on Hamilton for what is likely to be the final playoff spot in the East, though those same Tiger-Cats have 2 games in hand on the REDBLACKS. While this is not quite “must win” territory, the REDBLACKS need to keep winning if they want to hold off a Hamilton squad that is suddenly back in the playoff picture.
Saskatchewan, in the meantime, currently sits in 4th in the west, as they work to hold off a reeling BC Lions team, and try to catch a sliding Edmonton Eskimos who are in the midst of a 5-game losing streak and going up against a hot Winnipeg Blue Bombers squad.
The emphasis on this game, for the Saskatchewan Roughriders, will be on the offensive side of the ball. While we have been playing well defensively (barring the 2 quarters where we played with 9 injuries vs Hamilton), offensively we haven’t been putting points on the board with any regularity since halftime in Hamilton. In fact, over that 6-quarter stretch, the Riders have 2 touchdowns. They will need to better, and they will need to do it without their leading receiver. Naaman Roosevelt made the trip out East, but will not be suiting up after taking a hard, but legal, hit from Tunde Adeleke in the first half versus Calgary.
Here are my keys to the game:
1) Stop William Powell – Take the run game out of the equation and make (snicker) Ryan Lindley throw the ball.
2) Get to Ryan Lindley – Make the 3rd string quarterback’s day incredibly uncomfortable. Get to him early, and get to him often. You don’t necessarily need 6 sacks, but a ton of pressures would go a long way to helping the Riders roll into Toronto on a 1 game winning streak. Ottawa is missing 3/5ths of their offensive line this week. There is no reason we can’t get pressure on Ryan Lindley.
3) Get Duron Carter Involved – Simple. Get him the ball. He is better when you get him involved right from the get go. Screens, pitches, it doesn’t matter. Get him the ball.
4) Have a Damn Running Game – Can we try and run the ball? We need to start keeping defenses honest down the stretch. If we let defensive lines pin their ears back and go at our QB, with no threat of a short game/running game, it spells bad news for us.
5) Special Teams coverage – I got to watch Diontae Spencer return a missed FG for a kick against Montreal that basically crushed the souls of Alouettes fans that day. We cannot allow the same thing to happen. Limit special team’s breakdowns and give Lindley and the offensive as long a field as possible.
In the end, this is a game the Roughriders should win, though nothing in life, outside of death and taxes, is guaranteed. A strong Western team, going up against an eastern team missing their top 2 QBs and 3 of their offensive lineman, is about as close as it should be. The Roughriders should come out of the tunnel pissed off after losing a winnable game versus Calgary last week, and hopefully they bring that attitude to the field. If the defense that held Calgary without a score shows up, this game could be over early.
Riders 31 REDBLACKS 14