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Rider Team Facing Challenges

Published: Monday, Jul 24th 2017, 6:07pm

By Stephen Safinuk (@Safimod)

Rider fans went in to McMahon stadium with a lot of hope, and walked out of their wondering just what kind of team they have.

If I had to pick one word to describe this game, it would be “challenge”. The Riders were challenged with a better team. The rules were challenged regularly by both teams. The fans were challenged with suffering through what was a very slow, unexciting first half of football.

The Riders first half offensive line can only be described as porous. 5 sacks, including 3 to Charleston Hughes. Derek Dennis himself said he wasn’t his best in this one

Even when they did manage to give Kevin Glenn a little time, Glenn seemed to hold on to the ball far too long. Far too many 2 and outs (3 total first half first downs) led to a tired defense going up against Jerome Messam and a high-powered Calgary offense. Messam had 17 carries at half time, and most of them for decent yardage. It’s hard to stop a freight train when you’re exhausted, and it’s hard to catch your breath when you only get 3 plays on the sidelines at a time.

Speaking of the defense, this was not Sam Williams best game. Yes, he had an interception (that literally bounced into his arms) but he was trailing in coverage all through the game. The play that summarized his game to me came just before his interception. Williams trailed in coverage in a deep ball to Marquay McDaniel. McDaniel bobbled the ball, caught it, and fell to the turf. The next image shows Sam Williams running past him, making no effort to touch him on his way by. McDaniel got up and gained a few more yards until backup arrived.

However, given how horrendously our offense played in the first half, I have to give most of our defense props for keeping the score closer than it probably deserved to be after 30 minutes. All the above points barely crack the surface on the true story of the first half.

Challenges… Over the past few seasons, I’ve tended to let a lot of questionable challenges slide, especially when I believe the command center and the league got the call right. 6 plays into what was expected to be an exciting Western Division battle, we were blessed with 3 challenges. The original challenge was an absolute joke. It is time for the league to take a serious look at the Incidental Contact rule, and remove it as a challengeable offence. When you have a slotback with a 10-15 yard running head start, heading towards a stationary defender, you should not penalize the defender for literally standing his ground. Unfortunately, we are seeing challenges like this, far too often. Challenges that effectively have zero to do with the play itself are having far too large an effect on the game. This occurred again in the second half, with both penalties leading directly to points being scored. It needs to stop – I will have more on this topic on Wednesday’s release of Piffles Podcast (episode 49)….I guarantee you I won’t be holding back.

We did see temporary improvement from Saskatchewan in the second half, as they marched down the field for a touchdown on the 1st drive out of halftime, including a completion to Naaman Roosevelt that put future-Hall of Famer Kevin Glenn over the 50,000 yard plateau. A Tyler Crapigna field goal would have the Riders within 7, but that was as close as it got. Calgary walked away with their 10th straight regular season victory over Saskatchewan, and 92 second straight game without back to back losses.

I took a few positives from this game:

1)      The Riders offensive line came prepared in the 2nd half, giving up zero sacks in the final 30 minutes.

2)      Were it not for a couple of illegal contact challenges, the score would have been closer, and things might have been different.

Overall, the Riders still fit in the middle of the pack, firmly behind the Stampeders, Lions and Eskimos in the Western Division, but still in the hunt for what appears to be a crossover spot in the East.

The Saskatchewan Roughriders are home to the Toronto Argonauts on Saturday, July 29th. Get your tickets and be there. Don’t forget to stop by the Piffles Podcast tailgate (www.pifflespodcast.com/tailgating for more details)


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