Monday, June 16, 2008

Monday Morning Sentimonies: Pre-Season

Riders 33 - Lions 13

What a great start to the season! I know it's only preseason but you can't help but be excited about Friday's performance by the Riders. Not only did we defeat the Lions, which always feel good, we also added a few shots for good measure...

There is an unwritten agreement that in the preseason that you play basic defense (i.e. only rush 4) so teams can evaluate their players. Wally Buono, being the honourable man that he is, decided to break that agreement by sending Korey Banks and a few others after Crandell. The Riders responded by sending Tristan Clovis on a safety blitz that leveled the ever fragile Buck Pierce. To be sure Buono got the message they also sent Mike McCullough up the middle twice to lay a hard hit on the QB, the 2nd time the hit may have been a little late (okay replace "may have" with "was definitely" and "a little late" with "so late that I think both the QB and receiver were hit simultaneously" but the important thing was that Wally got the message).

Then at half time we added insult to injury in one of my favourite moments from Friday. As the BC Lions emerged from the locker room for the 2nd half, the first thing they saw was 2 RCMP officers proudly holding up the Grey Cup for all to see. The Grey Cup that BC (though heavily favoured) was denied when they lost to the Riders in the West Final last year. Take a good look Lions because that could have been you. Nothing like pouring a little salt in the wounds.

I was most impressed by our defense who did not give up a major. The only thing they were unable to defend was an errant Stephen Jyles pass, though
I guess I'll forgive them for that. Granted, BC's top 2 offensive weapons Geroy Simon and Joe Smith did not suit up but then again neither did Mo Lloyd, Eddie Davis or James Johnson, 2 of our top defensive weapons and a guy that Mo and ED let hang out with them sometimes. I think our defense will be among the best in the league all season long. I may start referring to them as the CFL's chastity belt because nobody's going to scoring when they are around.

It was a solid effort all around by the Riders but a few players' efforts deserve special mention:
John Chick - Chick came off the end on the very first play and continued to do so all game long. Chick actually stayed in the game longer than I thought he would which made me feel sorry for the guys BC was lining up at tackle. I mean Murphy and Jimenez have trouble stopping this guy, those poor back-ups didn't stand a chance.
Adarius Bowman - That 46 yard TD reception from Durant while in double coverage clearly showcased what we can expect from this guy all season long.
Anton McKenzie - After playing back-up to Reggie Hunt for a couple years, Anton is making the most of his opportunity to succeed the Reaper amassing 7 tackles in one half of football.
Stu Foord - Wow, what a performance! I can't remember the last time that people in Riderville had something positive to say about a guy with that last name.
Neal Hughes - Hughes looked very solid running the ball. I think he should be our back-up RB. And I'm not just saying that because of my severe disliking of Henri Childs. Although if Hughes doesn't work out there, I'm hoping that we bring back Nate Davis to be the back-up RB. Okay, that one was because of my severe dislike for Childs.
Denatay Heard - Going into the game I assumed Heard wouldn't last too long here. He was a late pick-up and hadn't been a stand-out during camp so far. Well that all changed when he hauled in 2 INTs. This means we could actually have some depth at defensive back this year - something we were in dire need of last year.

While most players were trying to play their way onto the team, a few seemed to be doing their best to play their way off. Most notably...
Quentin Griffin - How embarrassing it must be for a former NFL starter to be completely upstaged by a local junior player. Such was the case for Griffin who fumbled and dropped a wide-open pass. Griffin, you're cut!
Davon Fowlkes - Fowlkes was having a less than stellar camp already and pretty much sealed his fate by running backwards for 7 yards while returning a punt. Fowlkes, oh you better believe you're cut!

Elsewhere in the CFL...
The Bombers released Troy Westwood over the weekend following their preseason game where he missed his only FG attempt. After the 2001 Grey Cup, Troy swore that he wouldn't cut his hair until he helped the Bombers win a Grey Cup. Looks like if he's to be a man of his word, Westwood now has himself in a bit of a predicament - but don't worry Troy, there's always male pattern baldness.

With not much time to spare before the season starts, the Bombers are moving quickly to find a replacement kicker. They have apparently already been in contact with Duncan O'Mahony. Last time they signed him it didn't turn out so well, but they are optimistic that this time Duncan will make it to Canad Inns Stadium, mainly because the flight from Calgary to Winnipeg is a direct flight with no layovers.

The Stampeders released 3 players including offensive lineman Jermese Jones. Now I'll be the first to admit that Jermese isn't the best lineman in the league but I have to question the logic of this move given the current status of the Stamps O-line. I mean when you're having trouble fielding 5 guys to begin with, you'd think you'd avoid releasing the token few able ones you have. There are a couple of competing theories to explain things. The first is that maybe Jermese really was that bad. The other is that Hufnagel was worried that his tackles were going to be significantly better than his guards and center, thus making the inside guys look even worse than they actually are. It's all about perception.

That's it for now, check back later this week as we cue up the final preseason game against the Eskimos.

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