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Piffles Top 5 – Riders vs Elks Things to Watch

Published: Saturday, Jun 10th 2023, 1:06pm

By Alex Dormuth (@RealAlexD)


CFL Kickoff week continues tonight but I’m already looking ahead to Sunday evening when the Riders kick off their season in Edmonton vs the Elks. After a very interesting offseason, it’s time to see what this Riders team is made of. Here’s what I’m watching during the game:


1. The Tackles – Before the final preseason game, the Riders seemed to have everything all figured out on the O-Line, including their tackles. Well, projected starting left tackle Jerald Hawkins left the team to go back home to attend a family issue and plan B, Philip Blake is injured. Yikes. While it’s being said by Craig Dickenson that Blake has a pectoral strain, Piffles Podcast has heard it’s much worse than that, that it is a torn pec and Blake will be out for the season. Regardless, it looks like it will be Brandon Council and Eric Lofton at tackle for the first couple weeks of the season until Colin Kelly’s suspension is over.


2. Offensive Play Calling – I’m really looking forward to seeing how new Offensive Coordinator Kelly Jeffrey is going to use his talent. Are we going to see kick return stud Mario Alford get more looks on O? How much will the running backs be used? I think we’ll see a quick strike offense with Trevor Harris in control and the ball will be spread around quite a bit. I hope we see some imagination on Sunday evening.


3. Can the Defense Contain That Big Lump with Knobs? – I’m clearly having fun with Taylor Cornelius here, but the last time the Riders played the Elks, Cornelius ran wilder over the Riders than Hulkamania did on the 80s, to the tune of 93 yards and Edmonton won in Saskatchewan for the first time in 7 years. Will the Riders learn their lesson and keep him in the pocket and force him to beat them with his arm? If the Riders keep him contained, Cornelius won’t have the juice.


4. Rotation, Rotation, Rotation – Exactly how will Defensive Coordinator Jason Shivers use a rotation of players on all levels of the D? How much will Anthony Lanier II play inside on the D-Line? Outside at end? How much will Micah Johnson play? This team likes having athletes… guys that can play and not just in one position. You have to be able to move around and play multiple spots on the D and we’re going to see that throughout the year, defensive backfield included. Gone are the days of a set starting 12, you need 16-20 guys that can all come in and play on game day. I’m curious to see how it all unfolds.


5. The Crowd – It’s sad that the once dedicated fan base in Edmonton has eroded. Sure, some folks left because of the name change, but the team has been awful the last few years, including not winning a home game in forever. The Elks organization has done great things off the field to engage the fan base again and I hope it works out and they fill Commonwealth again. I’d love to get back to the days of near 30,000 (and above) seats sold for games in Edmonton.


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