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Preview : Labour Day Classic

Published: Friday, Aug 31st 2018, 5:08pm

by: Stephen Safinuk (@Safimod)

It’s that time of year again, when Bombers fans hop in their broken down old cars and head West down the #1 highway to Saskatchewan in large numbers, to watch their Blue Bombers find another entertaining way to lose the Labour Day Classic. Whether it is by a butt-whooping (52-0 in 2012) or a last minute rushing touchdown (31-26 in 2007) the Riders always show up on Labour Day Sunday.

History

Let’s take a quick look at the history of the Labour Day classic. There have been 53 editions of the Labour Day classic between Winnipeg and Saskatchewan since 1949, including annually since 1982. Since that annual run began in 1982, the Riders are an astonishing 26-10, including a current run of 12-1, with their only loss coming in 2016. It doesn’t seem to matter how bad the Riders are, or how good the Bombers are, this is one game that goes the Riders way more often than not.

Present

But this year, we have two good teams coming in to Mosaic Stadium, both in need of a win if they want a legitimate shot at 2nd in the West.

The Riders are coming in hot, after back to back Western Division wins over Calgary and BC, while the Winnipeg Blue Bombers are on a bit of a slide after losses to both Calgary and Ottawa. The Bomber faithful gave Matt Nichols and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers an earful in their most recent home game, and he certainly wasn’t a fan of the boo-birds. The Riders can make IGF a slightly friendly place for the visiting team next Saturday with a convincing win in the Labour Day Classic – Here’s how they get there.

Protect Zach Collaros

As always, the key to success for the Riders offensively, is giving Zach Collaros the time he needs to go through his reads. We don’t need to take a ton of deep shots, we just need to keep moving the ball to keep Andrew Harris and the Bombers offense off the field.

Stop Andrew Harris

Far easier said than done, the Riders defense needs to do everything in their power to keep Andrew Harris at bay. Do that, and you will limit the Bombers success on offence. He is the cog that turns that offence. Hopefully the apparent injury to DT Mic’hael Brooks won’t keep him from suiting up on Sunday, as he has been a key part to the Riders success on defense of late.

Christion Jones vs Kevin Fogg

This game is a battle of 2 of the best returns in the CFL as Kevin Fogg and Christion Jones are set to face off. While the Riders have done a great job of limiting long returns this season, they need to continue that trend. The Bombers, on the other hand, have shown a propensity for giving up lengthy returns this season. They currently sitting in 9th in the CFL, giving up an average of 23.8 yards per kick return. I look forward to seeing that number rise on Sunday afternoon.

Hit Nichols Often

The Riders are winning games in the trenches this season. Not only do they sit 1st in sacks allowed with 12 through 9 games, they also sit first in sacks made, with 23. Charleston Hughes and Willie Jefferson, along with Zach Evans and Mic’hael Brooks, have made a consistent mess of the opposing backfields, and they will need to do so again this week. The more turf Matt Nichols eats, the better chance the Riders have of heading to Winnipeg with a 6-4 record and a 2.5 game lead over Winnipeg in the standings.

Get The Offense Rolling

The Riders still have not scored 3 offensive touchdowns in a game all season long. So far, they have 1 game with 0 offensive touchdowns, 2 games with 2, and 6 games with a single offensive touchdown. As good as their defense has been, they need to start putting points on the board without relying entirely on the leg of Brett Lauther. We cannot continue to rely on defensive and special teams scores to help us win football games. There has been improvement over the past several games, but that improvement needs to last for 60 minutes, and needs to result in touchdowns.

 

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