A View From the Stands: Preseason Game 2 Edition
Published: Friday, Jun 7th 2019, 1:06pm
Football is back baby!! After 6 long months Rider fans were able to gather at Mosaic Stadium to witness our home exhibition game against the visiting Winnipeg Blue Bombers. Unfortunately for our out of town viewers, this game was not scheduled to be televised by TSN. There was a push from CFL fans for the Saskatchewan Roughriders to stream the game themselves (like Winnipeg did for their first preseason game), however they chose not to do so. Thankfully our very own @Safimod streamed the game on our Facebook page which allowed a lot of people who would not have been able to see the game tune in. (I even re-watched the game to help with this article so kudos to you Stephen) Here are my thoughts on the game and what our team will look like when they begin the regular season on Thursday in Hamilton.
- I was happy to see most of the projected starters suit up for the game tonight. A few veterans that did not suit up have already solidified their spot (see Johnson, Mica) or are nicked up and we will get to see them when they get healthy (Manny Arceneaux and Solomon Elimimian)
- Teagan Littlechief is an amazing anthem singer. The Riders should get her to do it every game. After seeing her sing the anthem regularly for the Regina Pats and the Riders a couple times last year i get goosebumps every time she belts out O Canada.
- Overall i think that the offence showed very well. Zach Collaros threw an early pic but I can’t blame it all on him as the receiver failed to come back to the ball. Not a great read to throw it there though. He shaked off that INT on the first possession of the 2nd quarter with a good long drive that resulted in… wait for it… an aerial touchdown hooking up with Naaman Roosevelt! That drive featured William Powell heavily and he showed to Riderville that he is for real. After a quick 2 and out, the next drive Zach marched the Riders down the field through the air and hooked up with Shaq Evans for his first TD as a Rider. I know it was preseason but seeing the Ridersoffence scoring 4 offensive TD’s was a thing of beauty.
- Stats for the QB’s: Zach Collaros finished the game 10/15 for 163 yards with 2 TD and 1 INT in one half of football. Isaac Harker went 5/9 for 74 yards (one of which was 51 yards) with 1 TD. Ty Gangi was 8/16 for 95 yards. Cody Fajardo came in for 3 one yard sneaks (converted 2 of 3 with 1 TD) David Watford did not see any action with this and the promise that Isaac Harker is showing, i think the writing’s on the wall for Watford. I predict the opening day depth chart for the Riders QB’s are 1. Collaros 2. Fajardo 3. Harker with Gangi sticking around on the PR. I wish the best for Watford and hope he can catch on with another team.
- The Rider QB’s spread the ball around pretty evenly with Paul McRoberts and Naaman Roosevelt both getting 4 receptions each. First round pick Justin Mckinnis had 2 catches after missing most of training camp with an injury sustained in an NFL camp. Local product Mitch Picton had 3 receptions as he looks to try to win the starting Canadian receiver spot away from Cory Watson.
- As said above William Powell showed why he (should have) lead the league in rushing last year averaging 7.9 yards per carry in the first half. He will keep defences honest this season and allow for Collaros to have more opportunities to find open receivers while running play action. Not sure who will be Powell’s back up as Butler and Morrow seem to be neck and neck. Tough choice for the coaches.
- Defensively i thought that it took a few series, but the starters shook the rust off and got better as the first half went on. Ed Gainey didn’t have his best game but Nick Marshall looked to be in mid season form out there. Elie Bouka had a so-so game, will need to see more from him once the regular season starts as he will be a rotational player to start the year. I felt that the DLine pressure was lacking but they could have been playing a very vanilla scheme and were without Mica Johnson and Zach Evans in the middle. Our defence will be fine to start the season and hopefully with a better offence they can stay fresher.
- Special teams was a bit of a write off with the amount of wind that the kickers faced. John Ryan got an early rouge that we know he did not want to get and Brett Lauther missed a convert but i am not worried about them come regular season.
- The fan experience has definitely been upgraded this season. The new game day host Mark Johnson killed it and was far better than we had last year. The Pil Country DJ was a nice addition as he was spinning tracks and trying to keep the crowd entertained during the breaks. The new T-Shirt cannon is epic (even if it seemed to have its own preseason kinks to work out) and the videos on the Max-tron during breaks we fun. Just one fail as they tried to get the noise meter out just after the Riders recovered the safety kickoff and the offence was on the field. Only thing that still needs to be changed is the 4th quarter stretch. It’s time to put down the lastSaskatchewan pirate. Don’t @ me.
- The new and improved Rider cheer team was great tonight. New dance moves and an updated music selection were a welcome change!
All in all it was great to get back to Mosaic and see some live football. The game itself was all that you can ask for, it was a close game that had some great plays and some funny rookie mistakes. My favourite part of home preseason games is yelling out “YOU’RE CUT!” after every missed play. I think that Rider Nation should feel a lot better about this team than they did after the first preseason game and i am excited for the season to get rolling on Thursday.
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