Tonight the Riders are in Edmonton for their second and final preseason game. The big story this week has been Coach Miller's decision to sit a number of starters, most notably Marcus Crandell. Many people are wondering why in the world Miller would do this. Well the answer is simple. Last October, we proved we could beat the Eskimos' starters with our back-ups. Now, Miller wants to one-up that and beat their starters with a roster full of people we will likely cut tomorrow. How's that for a slap in the face? Thing is I still like our chances. Despite resting 3 of our top O-linemen we will still be fielding a better O-line than Edmonton and despite our receiving core missing the likes of Fantuz, Dominguez and Grant we still have some pretty dangerous weapons out there.
The Eskimos, by contrast, have managed to put themselves in a position that
I didn't think was possible. The season hasn't even started yet and they are already in a must win situation. After 2 seasons in the west division basement and a dreadful performance against the Stampeders last week, the fans have just about had it. Maciocia is so desperate for a win that word is he will play his starters for at least 3 quarters. Now there's some quality coaching... let's take guys like Jason Tucker (who has a bad back) and Ricky Ray (who's coming off a serious injury to his throwing shoulder) and expose them to hits and general wear and tear for the better part of a game that means nothing. I hope for Maciocia's sake Ray doesn't end up getting injured in the game. The last thing that guys needs is another entry on his list of reasons he's a terrible coach.
When you think about it, Coach Miller has placed Edmonton in a no-win situation going into next week's season opener here in Regina. If Edmonton wins tonight, that haven't really accomplished much since most of our star players are resting. If Edmonton loses they are screwed. If they can't beat our back-ups and soon-to-be-cuts at home, their chances of winning on the road against our starters are right up there with the chances of Jessica Simpson winning an Oscar.
We should see a very hungry team given how many guys are fighting for roster spots. Also there are a couple of guys who have a little added incentive tonight. You can bet that Omarr Morgan and Steven Jyles will be looking to stick it to there old team. Toss in the fact that Edmonton still has no run game, questionable defense, an O-line with more holes than this year's U.S. Open and no talented receiver not named Tucker. This game could be uglier than a Maas family reunion, though Maciocia's chance of scoring would be dramatically higher at the reunion.
With the game tonight and roster cutdown day Saturday this will certainly be an interesting few days. Though don't worry if one of the players you like ends up not making the final roster, odds are good that you will get to see them play again next Saturday... they'll just be wearing a different shade of green.
One final bit of news for you...
Apparently the Ti-cats are considering implementing TV blackouts for the first time in 5 years. Now, generally fans are opposed to blackouts but in Hamilton's case the fans were actually lobbying for them so they wouldn't be forced to watch another dreadful Ti-cat game.