Top 5 – Things to Watch for Riders vs Redblacks
Published: Thursday, Sep 21st 2023, 10:09am
By Alex Dormuth (@RealAlexD)
The Riders travel to the Nation’s Capital to face the worst team in the CFL, the Ottawa Redblacks on Friday night. Following a very disappointing home loss to Edmonton last week, this is a game that on paper, the Riders should win. But we all know that games aren’t played on paper and the Riders have been truly brutal on the road lately. Which Rider team will show up? Here’s what I’m looking for from the Riders this week:
1. Did the Riders bring a spare? – Another road trip has me convinced that the team is going to come out flat yet again. Can they find a spare tire to get them to where they want to go? The motivation HAS to be there for this team and while they’re still in the driver’s seat towards the playoffs, they have to navigate their way there. A win in Ottawa will go a long way. Coach Craig Dickenson HAS to get them charged up for this game… if not, the calls for his firing (and yes, there are PLENTY of them right now) will just keep coming.
2. Will we get to see KSB be a focal point? – All last season, I wanted the team to feed Kian Schaffer-Baker. They flat out refused at times and played their worst ball then. When they DID give him the ball, they played their best. He’s been back long enough now that he NEEDS to become a focal point for the offense, or at least given more than a couple of looks per game. I know receivers are the least of the team’s worry, but they have to get KSB involved.
3. Adjustments from Jason Shivers – Will there be ANY? Shivers’ defense has been absolutely awful the last month or so, especially against the run. Will they shore it up a bit? They failed to contain Tre Ford last week and while Dustin Crum isn’t in the same stratosphere as Ford is when it comes to running the ball, he does pose that threat. Add in all the injuries to the Riders D-Line and things are already off to a rocky start. If Crum gets going and can get some chunk plays going on the ground, it could result in a win for the Redblacks.
4. Soft Secondary needs to strengthen – The Riders secondary is missing Rolan Milligan. There is no doubt about it. But they shouldn’t be as soft as they are. Jayden Dalke brings a physical presence to the unit (too bad he’s hurt), but no one else does. Deontai Williams, Nic Marshall, Jeremy Clark and Amari Henderson are all playing too soft. They are afraid to get close to a receiver. This team needs to play physical and get up on receivers. The zone defense that Jason Shivers runs just isn’t working with these guys. They play too far off the ball and they are getting picked apart. This NEEDS to change. I doubt we see them play more of a man defense, but something has to be different. Hopefully we see that on Friday evening.
5. Coaching, Coaching, Coaching – There aren’t many games where I’d say the Riders have the coaching advantage, but this is a game they do. Craig Dickenson SHOULD be able to outcoach Bobby Dyce in this one. Will he? Dickey said post game last week that the character in the locker room is good enough that they will put in the work and “hopefully” correct their mistakes. Well, “hopefully” Craig does the same and finds a way to get through to his team and coach a great game.
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