First of all, sorry to everyone for the delayed update this week. I had a bit of an issue come up last night and as a result I didn’t get the chance to put this post together until tonight.
Speaking of issues though, how about those injuries? Obviously the win is once again the bottom line – the last time the Riders went the big 5-0 was when the guy on the $50 bill was in office – but I think Man In The Bush hit the nail on the head when he said to me after the game “I’ve never felt this bad after a win!” Once again the injury bug reared it’s ugly head on Sunday. Darian Durant suffered cracked ribs in the first quarter, Andy Fantuz broke his leg in the 4th, and somewhere along the line James Johnson suffered what is thought to be a concussion (what I want to know is why Johnson waited until now to get hurt rather than doing it last year when I still hated him!) Even Glenn January was down on the turf at one point – for the second week in a row. I mean, I know he wants to fit in on his new team, but somebody needs to tell the guy that there are better ways to do it than getting injured!
While Johnson’s status for Saturday in Calgary is still unknown, Durant and Fantuz will join an injury list that still features the likes of DJ Flick, John Chick, Leron Mitchell and possibly Weston Dressler. There is a decent chance that Marcus Crandell will return to action this week against his former team, but the extensive injury list means that he’ll be out there with a fairly depleted group of receivers. I mean really, two months ago did any of you ever think I would be able to refer to Matt Dominguez as “the healthy one”?
Despite the injuries though, Gang Green once again found a way to come together as a team and pull out a fourth quarter victory. At this point, they are unquestionably taking years out of my life with these comeback wins. They haven’t always been pretty, but at the end of the day they don’t ask how, they just ask how many.
I give full credit to Steven Jyles for bouncing back from some ugly appearances earlier this year with a very solid game, as well as the coaching staff for reining him in a little bit better than they did against BC. Aside from a telegraphed pass that was picked off by Kenny Wheaton, one pass that was almost caught by Arland Bruce on the Argos bench, and one ball that seemed to be intended for the guy selling beer in the 5th row of the west stands, Jyles was almost perfect. He got the ball to his playmakers so that they could do the work, and when all else failed was able to pick up some key first downs with his legs.
Wes Cates continues to pile up the stats, recording another 135 yards on the ground. He now leads the league in rushing yards and majors, with more touchdowns than tornados in a trailer park. He continues to be the one constant in our offence despite his supporting cast changing from week to week. It’s early, but it’s not a stretch to think that MOP honours could be on the horizon for Cates if his play continues at this level.
Another player that I was impressed with this week was newcomer Dek Bake. Leading up to the game I got the impression that he had been threatened within an inch of his life not to let Kerry Joseph break contain, and I thought that for the most part he did an admirable job of that as he had great angles all night. Try as he might, the normally elusive Joseph found that on this day there would be no Shakin’ Bake.
Full credit to the rest of the defence as well, they definitely stepped up when it mattered most. After somewhat shaky games against Hamilton and Montreal, the D stepped up against the Argos and only allowed 4 points in the second half. Once again we saw some unorthodox formations, some of which worked and some of which didn’t. We had some success with one look that I hadn’t noticed before, that the double safety formation, which featured both Scott Gordon and Tristan Clovis on the field at the same time. My working theory right now is that Richie Hall and Gary Etchevery run races at the start of the week, and then develop a defensive formation featuring the first twelve guys across the line. Either that or Etch is borderline crazy. But I’m okay with either of those.
Well Rider fans, enjoy the rest of the week as we prepare to head into Mosaic Stadium West, or “McMahon Stadium” as the locals call it. I’ll be back to set that game up on Friday!