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Riders Lose to Esks in Preseason Opener

Published: Sunday, May 27th 2018, 12:05pm

by Alex Dormuth (@RealAlexD)

It’s finally here! CFL football is back and even though it was kind of sloppy, not that exciting and full of players we will never see again, it was like Christmas for us fans! The Esks took this game as a chance to get their starters some reps, but the Riders took this is a chance to get a look at the young QBs and DBs. There are only a handful of positions available on the Riders roster, so Chris Jones and company wanted to use this game to have a real look at the new recruits.

The main battles that we were all looking at going into this game was the Left Tackle position, the open Cornerback spot, who will be Jerome Messam’s backup and how would the Canadian Linebackers fair?

Here are my thoughts on the game:

The score didn’t matter, but it never feels good to lose, especially to the Edmonton Eskimos. The one thing the Riders haven’t done in the past few years is win a preseason game and that trend continued on Sunday with the Riders losing 35-12.

The Good:

– Running back Marcus Thigpen. He’s the clear #2 behind Messam, but it’ll be a rotation throughout games. He still has that great speed!

– Running back Zac Stacy. Making me eat a bit of crow, but he had some nice moves in the open field and broke a few big gains. Will likely be the #2 for the first couple of games while Thigpen is suspended, but could be worth keeping around on the Practice Roster

– The starting O-Line held in pretty well. Watford had time to throw the ball in the first half, good push on running plays. I don’t think the Left Tackle spot is solidified yet, but it looks like Terran Vaughn’s job to lose.

– Linebacker Cameron Judge making big hits. If that’s the Judge we get all year, the defense will be that much scarier.

– Kicker Brett Lauther. 4/4 including a 54 yarder with about 10 yards to spare! If Tyler Crapigna has to miss any time, Lauther is a very suitable replacement.

– Duron Carter making plays on defense! A couple of HUGE tackles and stripped the receiver of the ball before it was caught. No doubt in my mind that he’s the extra DB again like we saw last year.

– Former QB turned Defensive Back Nick Marshall. High pointed an interception. Could make the active roster, would definitely be a good guy to stash somehow if the numbers don’t work in his favour. Definitely got better as the game went on. If he gets more reps in the next game at CB, he could be a new starter.

– QB B.J. Daniels. It was in mop up time in the 4th against the Esks backups, but he looked confident throwing the ball and was the best QB that played. He’ll be around for a while, especially after the team waited on him for 5-6 years.

The Bad:

– The first quarter defensive unit. Getting beat deep repeatedly, penalties. It was BAD.

– DB Chris Lyles. He wasn’t good last year at the start of the year, he wasn’t good today. Can’t see him lasting too long.

– QB David Watford. He was able to move the ball a bit near the end of the first and into the 2nd, but other than 2 good throws, they were all check downs and had some really poor throws.

– Backup O-Line didn’t help out Marquis Williams too much. Back to back sacks allowed, and looked like guys that need developing.

– Quarterback Marquise Williams. His first drive was nice. Mobility in the pocket, strong, poised throws. Looked like a confident man at times, but did have an INT and a fumble on a 3rd down gamble. Overall, He was more average at best than bad, but there is no Average at Best spot here, so to the bad he goes.

It feels weird to have less in the bad column than good, but that whole first quarter could have been a thesis, so we’ll leave it at one point.

The Ugly:

– Punter and Nanook. The absolute worst mascots in the world. Ugly, ugly, UGLY!

– The penalties by the Riders D on the first drive. Offsides, facemasks… BRUTAL! Not a good impression to make when vying for a job.

– The score. While Edmonton definitely derserved to win, it wasn’t as bad as it looked.

Player of the Game:

– I could go with a few names here. K Brett Lauther, DB (not WR) Duron Carter, RB Zac Stacy and RB Marcus Thigpen. But I will go with Duron Carter. We know he’s a 1,000 yard receiver, but he can be a really good DB and he showed that more than a few times. There is nothing Duron can’t do!

Unsung Hero:

– Left Tackle Terran Vaughn. If we get any consistency out of him, the starting O-Line is set and we won’t have to worry about Zach Collaros at all.

Overall Grade of the Riders:

– C. It was a preseason game with a whole bunch of starters not making the trip. Some good, some bad, the first 2 drives were UGLY. They looked like a B squad, but like I mentioned, there are so few jobs available on this team that they were just looking to see who could make it to the next round of cuts.

The Riders flew out on Sunday morning for the game later in the afternoon, and even though it’s a short flight, that’s not the most ideal way to spend your game day. They now have almost 2 weeks off before they host the Calgary Stampeders June 8 at Mosaic Stadium in the home preseason game, where we will see the starters play for a good part of the game.

We’ll break this game down this week on the Piffles Podcast later this week, so be sure to check that out. Plus Steve will have his first Power Rankings of the 2018 year, my Tuesday Takes and Greg will have his CFL Slants later in the week. Lots of great content coming your way!

*** Don’t forget to enter the 2018 Piffles Podcast Fan Contest! Running all season, we want to hear more about YOU, the GREAT Rider fans! What does Rider Pride mean to you? How did you become a fan? Who’s your favourite player? We would like to ask you these questions and more and share your story with ALL of Rider Nation! We have over $2,500 in prizes to give away and we would love to learn more about the passionate fans that make up Riderville! To enter, fill out the questionaire and you are qualified! 20 Weekly Winners will be drawn throughout the season and EVERYONE that enters is put into the Grand Prize Draw to be made during the final week of the CFL regular season! ***

*** Piffles Podcast is heading to the Banjo Bowl! Join us on the trip and let’s paint Winnipeg green! We will leave the Saturday morning of the game, tailgate at IGF for a little bit, watch the Riders beat the Bombers and then we will stay overnight in Winnipeg and come back to Regina on Sunday afternoon. ONLY A COUPLE OF TICKETS REMAINING!! If this is of interest to you, let us know ASAP!

It promises to be a great, fun time and we have some great prizes lined up to give away! ***


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