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The Morning After – Roughriders Show Resilience, Pick up W Against L-ks

Published: Sunday, Jun 9th 2024, 5:06am

By Alex Dormuth (@RealAlexD)

 

That game yesterday sure was something, wasn’t it. As a lifelong Rider fan, you think I’d be used to the roller coaster of emotions this team gives me every week, but even this game was something I wasn’t ready for.

Regardless, at the end of the day, they don’t ask how, just how many. And the Riders are 1-0 to start the year thanks to a 29-21 win over Edmonton.

Here’s some thoughts on yesterday’s Rider victory on The Morning After.

 

First off, I have to talk about discipline. Or in the first half, lack thereof. I get it, the team was pumped to get out there and get this season started and show they won’t get pushed around like they were the last few years. But it hurt them. Trevor Reid took a stupid penalty early and then Logan Ferland took a swing at an Elks defender, getting ejected and a 25 yard penalty for it. 

This to me was the real test for new Head Coach Corey Mace. How was he going to react and how was the team going to react? After halftime, they really settled down. Clearly something was said to the team and whatever it was, worked. This is something we didn’t see with Craig Dickenson. When things got bad, they got BAD with him. But if the team is able to refocus and redirect their energy, good things will happen.

 

Mario Alford is going to continue re-writing the Riders returning record book this year. He hasn’t lost a step and looks as dangerous as ever. Too bad he had that punt return for a TD brought back due to a penalty. He’s such a treat to watch.

 

I was disappointed in the lack of pressure brought by the D-Line. Elks QB McLeod Bethel-Thompson had as much time as he wanted all game to pick apart a soft Riders zone coverage. 

Though, they got a play when it mattered the most from Bryan Cox Jr. forcing a strip sack fumble recovery. I would like to see a more consistent pass rush in the future, but the run defense was very solid, though!

 

Sticking with the defense, I LOVE the hustle to the ball. All day long, there was 5 or 6 Riders in on every tackle… and they were TACKLING! Not just going for a big shoulder hit, they were hitting and wrapping guys up! That’s a testament to good coaching.

And it’s so nice having Rolan Milligan back in the lineup. Dude was EVERYWHERE and was making big plays all over the place!

 

photo courtesy CFL on TSN

 

On the other side of the ball, what can we say about Shawn Bane Jr.? He was EXCELLENT in his hat trick performance! And so too was Jerreth Sterns, especially on 2nd and long, catching quite a few balls to move the chains and keep drives going.

 

I liked the Offensive Line’s pass protection (save for the first 2 plays after Logan Ferland was ejected and Ryan Sceviour got bullied around). They did a pretty good job of not allowing a lot of pressure on Trevor Harris, allowing him to make some very good throws. But that run blocking was atrocious. I can’t sugar coat it, they were BAD. There were NO lanes for A.J. Ouellette all game long. For a team that wants to run the ball, they’ll need to figure out a way how. Maybe bringing Frankie Hickson up to the active roster will help?

 

And even though they only managed a single rouge in the 2nd and 3rd quarters, it generally felt like the Riders were able to move the ball pretty well. But they have to cut down on those turnovers (and the penalties that ended drives).

 

There’s plenty to work for the Riders to clean up their game going forward, but we knew game 1 wasn’t going to be perfect. But there’s also a lot to build on. Overall, I generally liked what I saw, save for a few things, but I know those will be worked on.

 

Alex’s Star of the Game: I’ll take the easy choice here. It was Shawn Bane Jr. by a mile. While Jerreth Sterns was Mr. 2nd Down (credit Rod Black… anyone else miss him doing CFL games?) and kept a lot of drives going, Bane was Mr. TD with three of the four Riders majors. 5 for 125 and 3 TDs… if you play CFL Fantasy, I hope you had him on your roster.

 

What’s next: The Riders return to practice to get ready for another road game, where they take on the Hamilton Tiger-Cats on Sunday, June 16th at 5pm.

 

Be sure to tune into this week’s show when we recap this game and look ahead to next Sunday’s game in Hamilton. Subscribe today wherever you download your podcasts, on YouTube or catch the show on SaskTel Max TV on Demand!

 

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