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The View From Up Here – A Guest Spot

Published: Friday, Sep 8th 2017, 5:09pm

by Steven Etter (@BCStubbleJumper)

As always, the weekend following Labour Day sees the Riders head east, deep into banjo country, for the rematch in Winnipeg at Investors Group Field. So how do I see things shacking out? Well let me tell you…

First off, this is going to be a hostile environment for the Riders to be going into. Not the on-field environment, the noise in the stands. The accusations that were flying around after the Riders won the LDC at Mosaic Stadium haven’t died down at all throughout the week. The spitting, “fake” injuries and trying to pull Gainer’s head off have led to some hard feelings on both sides. The media hasn’t helped quell this at all, more like they have exacerbated it, and keep stirring the pot. If you are lucky enough to be going to watch the game in Winnipeg, I beg you to be on your best behavior and don’t give the Blue and Gold fans any reason to create problems.

Now, how about the game on the field? I can see the Riders having a tougher go of it this week. With Nick James being nicked up and reportedly not playing this week hurts the run defense. Having that big, physical force in the middle limited Andrew Harris’s production to only 29 rushing yards. That was impressive. It also helped the defensive ends to be able to disrupt Nichols timing and accuracy on his throws. Harris will no doubt have better numbers on Saturday rushing, but I still believe the defense can keep him in check. Eddie Steele is great in the pass rush, but he just isn’t as big of physical presence as James

On offense, the loss of both Marshal and Demski could prove costly as well. Kienan LaFrance gets his first start as a Rider. This changes the ration slightly, as now we are having a Canadian at running back, so that gives the flexibility of using five non-imports at the receiver position. Also, something to factor into this is moving Aaron Milton back to the offensive side of the ball to back up LaFrance, thus creating a hole in the secondary.

Winnipeg will be coming out with a fire in their belly after having their five-game win streak ended in Regina. The player’s frustration from last week must be kept in check if they want to stay focused on this game.

With the Bombers secondary probably not being 100% healthy going into this game, it could be something to watch for. Both Loffler and Heath didn’t finish the game last week due to injuries, so this is something that the Riders receivers must use to their advantage.  Being able to start Caleb Holley this week gives and already impressive Riders receiving corps another dimension of speed. I’m looking forward to seeing the speed utilized to blow open some big plays down field.

The quarterback stories will be fun to watch. Kevin Glenn is having one of, if not the best, seasons of his career so far. Matt Nichols has also been ranked high all season, having had some good success in the first half of the season. How either of these quarterbacks play is going to be a direct reflection on the O-line in front of them. Give either of these guys time and protection, and they will be able to pick apart any secondary. Our O-line HAS to be on their game to win this one.

Now for the X-factor. TSN recorded the noise level in Mosaic Stadium last week to answer the question of which city has louder fans. The high point was 104 decibels, with an average of noise coming in at 99.7 decibels. Winnipeg has claimed they have the loudest crowds in the CFL, and now that they have the bar set, they will do whatever they can to make sure they “officially” can hold that title. I doubt this will have much of an effect on the Riders offense, but you never know. All I know is it will be loud, and the team on the field and fans in the stands must be ready for it.

Bottom line on tomorrow’s game…I think the Riders can pull this one off. It will be a much closer game than the Labour Day Classic, but they still win it. This team has come together and turned the corner.

******Steve Etter is a displaced Rider fan now living in northern BC. Being well removed from the constant bombardment of Riders news and exposure gives a bit of a different view. You can find him on Twitter at @BCStubblejumper******

 

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