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Riders feast on Lions… and serve up some crow

Published: Monday, Aug 14th 2017, 5:08pm

by Alex Dormuth (@RealAlexD)

I will always be the first to admit I was wrong, and boy was I WRONG about this Saskatchewan Roughriders team from Sunday night. The Riders came out and did what the BC Lions did to them just a week earlier, absolutely dominating the Lions 41-8 at Mosaic Stadium. I knew the Riders wouldn’t lay an egg in this game and figured it would be close, but that BC would pull it off in the end. But as I sit here eating my delicious crow, I won’t eat too much… at least not yet.

To the game itself, WOW. What else can I say? Where has this team been for the last 3 years? For the first time in I don’t know how long, the team showed fire, intensity and aggression for a full 60 minutes and rewarded the fans after a disappointing 30-15 loss the week previous. EVERYTHING was working for the Riders. Offense moved the ball at will, Special Teams saw a big spark and how about that Defense? 6 turnovers, a score and only the one score against (hope you took them in fantasy)!

Let’s start with the defense. Ed Gainey had himself a career game, with 4 interceptions (one of which he returned 49 yards for a touchdown) and a fumble recovery. Most players would love to have those kind of stats in a season, let alone one game. Gainey set a team record with those 4 INTs and became the 9th player all time in the CFL to have 4 picks in a game. What makes this game extra special for Ed Gainey was that his son came to the game and got to see him play. Ferlin (@Fernie635) and I interviewed Ed Gainey at practice on Friday just before this game, so you can hear more about him on our Coney Island Poutine Cafe Piffles Player Profile on this week’s Piffles Podcast.

But the rest of the defense was incredible as well. Games are won in the trenches and the D-Line sure did their part, even when they did my hated 3 man rush. The 3 man rush actually worked this week! Willie Jefferson was his usual beastly self, wreaking havoc even if he didn’t end up on the stat sheet. New Rider Defensive Tackle Nick James was an absolute force and was the difference on the D-Line that we’ve been waiting for. He collapsed the pocket all game long and was pretty much the reason why the 3 man rush got pressure on Jon Jennings which also resulted in a sack. Tobi Antigha had himself a very solid game as well, getting 2 QB sacks and nearly had an INT as well. Another newcomer, DB Derrick Moncreif also had an INT in the Red Zone, which gave the team 5 INTs total for the game. Not bad for a team that had 1 all season going into this game, by a DE that is no longer with the team (Jonathan Newsome).

If this is the defense we can see consistently, the Riders have a real chance of turning the season around and making a legitimate run to the playoffs. This was the aggressive, physical type of defense that Chris Jones is known for, it just happened to take 25 games in his tenure to finally see it. For everyone’s sake, let’s hope that this is the type of game they play game in, game out, especially in their next game on the road in Edmonton.

On offense, again, the trenches absolutely dominated the game. Kevin Glenn was held upright most of the game and had a lot of time to make his throws. I wasn’t too happy with changing the ratio after Dan Clark got injured and placed on the 6 game injured list, as I would have liked to have seen Dariusz Bladek get a shot, but the switch to 3 Internationals on the O-Line seemed to work wonders. We went from having a line of Dennis-Labatte-Clark-Dyakowski-Coleman to a line of Campbell-Dennis-Labatte-Dyakowski-Coleman and it was easily our best O-Line of 2017. The big difference to me was the ability to stop the stunts from BC’s D-Line. The Riders spent a lot of time in practice on working on blocking stunts and it was definitely time well worth putting in.

Elsewhere on O, I can’t say enough about our receiving corps. Bakari Grant with his 4th touchdown of the season, Duron Carter continues his hot streak in the endzone by getting his 5th TD. And can we also mention that Duron Carter can also play DB? After Kacey Rodgers got nicked up, Carter ended up playing corner and covering speedster Chris Williams. He would have had an INT too if Ed Gainey wasn’t so greedy and took his 4th away from Carter on an overthrown pass by BC backup Alex Ross. Carter has really become a fan favourite quickly here in Riderville and while the yards aren’t there, he’s tied for the league lead in TDs and he’s always a threat when he gets the ball. Kevin Glenn looked good. His INT was on a bad throw due to miscommunication and once in a while those happen. Luckily it didn’t snowball into anything and we just kept putting up points.

Special teams coverage was pretty good all game, but Christion Jones returning punts and kicks had one heck of a game. If he continues to impress like that, I’m not sure where Chad Owens fits on this team after the bye week. Owens has been rotating with the starting unit in practice, but I just don’t see where he would be needed on the active roster, which sucks to say because I’m a big fan of his. It’s a good problem to have.

One thing that is getting overlooked is that with the lopsided score, the Riders won the season series against BC. Since they only play each other twice this year, the Riders now hold the tiebreaker if the two teams finish tied at the end of the season. Yes, Saskatchewan is still 2 games behind, but it really puts the Riders in complete control of their own destiny. If they can sweep Winnipeg in the Labour Day and Banjo Bowl games, they would have the season series against the Blue Bombers too. They’ve hit the most important part of their schedule and they need to come out with wins.

And this is why I won’t eat all my crow right now and will save some for later. We’ve been duped by this team with a good performance at home, only to have poor showings the next week on the road. After they beat Hamilton, they had a bye week after then got their butts kicked in Calgary. After a tough win at home to Toronto, they didn’t bother showing up in BC. It’ll be really interesting to see which team shows up after the bye week. Will they continue their roller coaster season or will we finally see consistency and back to back wins? Until I see back to back wins, one of them on the road, I’m going to temper my expectations before I eat the rest of that crow. I sure hope I’m wrong, but winning in Edmonton has never been the Riders strong suit and I have pretty much every game in Edmonton pegged as a loss before the season starts. Not that I’m down on them, but I’m a realist (it’s a curse sometimes) and I’m going with history.

The crow still stays on the plate, but I’ll be nothing short of happy to finish that bird after the next game in Edmonton. Enjoy the bye week and the last little bit of summer we have!

Don’t forget that if you would like to join us for the first annual Piffles Bowl at Mosaic Stadium, there are still spots available! A $50 donation to Hope’s Home in Regina gets you a Piffles Podcast shirt, 2 hours on the field this Friday, August 18 from 6-8pm at Mosaic Stadium to play touch football with the Piffles crew, mingle with Bakari Grant (and any other Riders he can bring with him) and enter in raffles for some great prizes from Hillberg & Berk, Coney Island Poutine Cafe, the CFL and many more, including a football signed by about 20 players on the 2017 Saskatchewan Roughriders team! Email pifflesbowl@gmail.com if you would like to join us, or contact any of us on Twitter@PifflesPod @RealAlexD @Safimod @Fernie635 @CFLHottieBowl and @GregOnSports, or on Facebook! Let’s get out there and have a great time, raise money for charity and get a discount at the Great Canadian Brewhouse following our time on the Mosaic Stadium turf!

 

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