Riders Roll into Calgary Searching for a Playoff Spot
Published: Friday, Oct 20th 2017, 2:10pm
by Alex Dormuth (@RealAlexD)
Friday night’s game between the Saskatchewan Roughriders and the Calgary Stampeders is a big one for both teams, but more so for the Riders. Saskatchewan goes into this game sitting at 8-7, 4th place in the West division and can clinch their first playoff spot since 2014 with a victory, but it won’t come easy.
Calgary is 13-1-1 and they’ve done so with a smothering defense and timely offense. They haven’t really hit their stride on the offensive side of the ball yet and that’s scary for the rest of the CFL. If they get that going, it’ll take a perfect game to beat them in the playoffs.
The big story going into this game all week for the Riders has been Duron Carter. It all started with a tweet on Monday and then things took off. Since then, Duron has been “punished” by being put as the Riders starting Cornerback, taking over for an injured Kacy Rodgers. Head Coach Chris Jones has said that Carter is the next best option for the team at DB. I don’t buy it, unless he is only going to play in man coverage. This worries me. We drop into zone more often than not and I’m not sure that he will be able to keep up for too long playing in zone. Any QB will be happy to see a receiver playing DB and I’m sure Bo Levi Mitchell is licking his chops at the potential of Carter covering his receivers. If the Riders play man coverage, I’m not too worried.
I fully expect Carter to only play a bit on D and get back to his regular spot on offense, but that’s up to Chris Jones. I also expect Carter to play off the ball a bit and give a bunch of room to receivers and in turn, a lot of short passes thrown his way, forcing him to make tackles.
And that raises another question. How is his tackling ability? We all know he can bump into coaches, but how’s his form? What about the potential for an injury? To me, there are more questions around this move than there are answers. And I hate to say it, but this move shows that the team’s coaching staff is not interested in finishing 3rd in the West and would rather play out East in the playoffs. Of course I could be way off base on that and I’m making too much of it…
Unless this is all a hoax and Elie Bouka will see plenty of reps at Cornerback and Carter plays his normal receiving spot. Honestly, with Chris Jones, you never know. One thing I know is that a head game is being played here by Chris Jones. It’s just unclear if it’s being done towards Carter, the Stamps or the fans. The one certainty is that this game is a must watch to see how everything unfolds.
Other big roster moves for the Riders see receiver Chad Owens FINALLY making his Riders debut after missing the last year with a broken foot. Owens will be in for Naaman Roosevelt who is out with his 2nd concussion in 3 weeks. I’m a big Chad Owens fan and I’m excited for his Rider debut, but I need to temper expectations a bit. As long as he gets through the game without injury and still shows much of the same that we saw from him last year in Hamilton, I’m happy.
But the big return that has the most impact is starting Running Back Cameron Marshall. Since he was injured, the Riders haven’t had a run game and to be frank, the team has been a lot worse in the red zone without him. Hopefully we see a less predictable offense and see some imagination from Offensive Coordinator Stephen McAdoo. Marshall can do it all, run, receiving and maybe most importantly, block. And with the struggles the O-Line has had this year, having a solid blocking RB is a good thing.
Speaking of blocking, Dan Clark has been pulled off the 6 game injured list and will take back his starting spot in the middle of the O-Line. Derek Dennis is out with a lower back injury, so Brendan Labatte slides back to Left Guard and we go with 3 Canadian’s on the O-Line instead of 2. Calgary has had little trouble with the Riders O-Line in both their games this season, so it will be interesting to see how the O-Line performs against a very strong front 7.
Calgary can clinch first in the West with a win (or a Winnipeg loss to Toronto) and the Riders can clinch a playoff spot, seed yet to be determined with a win (or a BC loss to Edmonton). This is the week that the Riders clinch a playoff spot, but they get help from Edmonton. The Riders have never beat Bo Levi Mitchell before and I don’t think it starts this week. They’ll save that for late November… But it will be close. Calgary 26, Saskatchewan 20. Here’s to hoping I’m wrong!
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