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Riders vs TiCats – Game Preview

Published: Friday, Jul 7th 2017, 1:07pm

Tomorrow night, the Riders host the Hamilton Tiger Cats in a battle that features the 2 worst teams in the league. Granted, their combined records are 0-3, but both teams are disappointed with their starts to the season, so it will be an interesting game at Mosaic Stadium.

The Riders are coming off 2 close losses to Montreal and Winnipeg to start the year, while Hamilton is coming off of a bye week after a week 1 drubbing in Toronto. While the Riders have looked both good and bad in their games, Hamilton, especially their O-Line was beyond terrible. This is the time for the Riders to finally win a game in the trenches, but I have my doubts (more on that in a bit).

Taking a look at the Riders offense, Kevin Glenn has looked pretty good so far this season, but those turnovers have been the killer. Simply put, the team overall isn’t good enough to overcome more than 1 turnover. Those need to stop. If Glenn and the rest of the team can stop turning the ball over, I really like their chances against Hamilton’s defense. Losing Caleb Holley to the shoulder injury he suffered last week is a bit of a hit for the offense. Holley, who will be the answer to the trivia question of who scored the first regular season TD at Mosaic Stadium, really came on strong last year and was primed for a breakout year, but luckily this team is deep in receivers. Antwane Grant will take his place on the roster. Grant showed quite well in the preseason and will get his chance to shine for the next little while. The receiving crew still has Duron Carter, Namaan Roosevelt, Bakari Grant, Nic Demski and Rob Bagg. We’ll be fine there.

Should I even mention a run game? If you’re asking what run game, that probably says it all. Running the ball has never been an important aspect of the game in a Stephen McAdoo offense, but they have to at least try. I know Winnipeg has a very good D-Line and it made it hard for Cameron Marshall to find room last week, but you need to try and keep the defense honest. Even if that includes more swing and screen passes to the running back, get them involved more!

Flipping over to the defensive side of things, this is where the Riders have their chance to take control of the game. The first game against Montreal, save for a few plays and for 40 minutes against the Blue Bombers last week, the defense has actually looked pretty decent. The secondary was a pleasant surprise in Montreal, but decided to for some reason, refuse to cover Winnipeg’s receivers last week. The Rider D-Line got absolutely no pressure on Darian Durant in week 1, but got 4 sacks last week on Matt Nichols. It will be interesting to see if this Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde unit can put it all together tomorrow night.

I’m really looking forward to seeing if the D-Line can generate pressure on Zach Collaros. Hamilton gave up 5 sacks against Toronto in week 1 and if that’s the way Hamilton’s O-Line is going to perform, Willie Jefferson and the rest of the Riders D-Line should have a great night. Here’s where I have my doubts though… I’m not concerned about the players have a good game so much as as I’m concerned about the position they will be put in by Coach Chris Jones and his 3 man rush (CJ3, patent pending). We’ve seen time and time again that when this team rushes 3 D-Lineman and drops 9 back into coverage, zero pressure gets put on the QB. You give any QB all the time in the world and he WILL find an open receiver, no matter how many guys you drop into coverage. Derek Taylor of TSN had a great stat that showed the Riders have rushed only 3 on 60% of their plays so far in their 2 games. In my opinion, that’s about 30-40% too much. There is a time for it, but more than half the time? Chris Jones is a stubborn man (SHOCKER, I KNOW!) so I don’t imagine things will change drastically for this game, but I still hold out hope that we can consistently rush at least 4.

I could keep going on about how much I hate the 3 man rush and how it doesn’t work with this team, but I digress. The biggest issue for the Riders is the secondary, however. Weston Dressler was allowed to literally run by them on multiple plays last week to the point where they didn’t even put a man on him on his 2nd TD. Hopefully this week they decide to cover Hamilton’s best receivers or else it will be another long night for the defense. But it all starts up front. If the Riders can get pressure on Collaros, I like their chances.

On Special Teams, I’m not pinning the 2 losses on Tyler Crapigna, but he has played an integral part of both of losses, missing field goals at the end of both games. Other than those 2 kicks, Crapigna has been clutch for this team so he keeps his job for at least another week. I’m not willing to give up on him yet, but the heat is definitely on him with Quinn van Gylswyk, a kicker that Chris Jones drafted, sitting, waiting for his chance. For his sake (and all of ours) I really hope he gets a chance to make a big field goal and he crushes it. Although, I’d be much happier if it didn’t come down to that and the Riders have a comfortable lead.

I really think the Riders can and should win this game. Even with their faults, they should be 2-0 or 1-0-1 at worst. Ultimately as long as Coach Jones puts the team in a good position to win the game, they will. This team is better than last year, they just need to learn how to close games and win. And this week, they will do just that.

Saskatchewan 33 Hamilton 24

Go Riders!

– Alex Dormuth

 

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