Friday, September 19, 2008

RIP Ron Lancaster

We start off today on a serious note as Riderville is in mourning.

Yesterday, the Roughriders and the entire CFL lost one of their all-time greats as Ron Lancaster succumbed to heart failure at the age of 69.

Lancaster leaves behind a legacy of greatness that is truly amazing. He led the Roughriders to 14 consecutive playoff appearances, 5 Grey Cup appearances and a Grey Cup win in 1966. He was a perennial all-star and was named the league’s Most Outstanding Player in 1970 and 1976. And what did it cost the Riders to acquire the greatest QB in the franchise’s history? $500 (Seriously)

In addition to his storied playing career, he also went on to become one of the League’s most successful coaches. A 2 time Coach of the Year, he led the Edmonton Eskimos to a Grey Cup win in 1993 and led Hamilton to a Grey Cup win 1999.

Unfortunately, I am too young to have seen Lancaster play (those of you that did should consider yourselves very lucky). I remember him more as a broadcaster and a coach. But whether you saw him don the Green and White or just came to know him through stories and TV highlights, there’s no denying that Lancaster is engrained in the history of the Riders and the CFL like no other.

Rest in Peace Little General, you will be missed.

Now that that sentimental moment is done let’s get back to the upcoming game… and more importantly, sarcastic commentary and inappropriate humour.

Tomorrow the 6-5 BC Lions roll into town for the 2nd game of a home and home against the 8-3 Riders. The Riders will be looking to avenge last week’s loss in BC.

We begin this week talking about what else… injuries. You can add another name to the 9 game injured list, which will soon require its own Reader’s Digest condensed version. In a shocking turn of events it’s another receiver - Henri Childs - with injured discs in his back. I always thought that the day that Childs suffered a season ending injury I would be jumping for joy… not because I wish Henri any particular harm, I just didn’t want him on the field given my general hatred for him. But this year, the news does not make me happy. Childs was doing decent in slot and quite frankly we need all the receivers we can get (see: the return of Patrick Thibeault). To make matters worse Vince Marhsall is also injured and won’t be able to play. Don’t worry though, Jimmy Farris is a very capable replacement. What’s that you say? …. Farris is hurt too? … Well isn’t that great. We are struggling to find enough starting receivers as it is and we lose 3 more this week. At this rate, an onfield appearance by Thibeault may not be far off (may God have mercy on our souls). One has to feel for Tillman in this whole mess. As if finding enough new receivers to replace the 2-3 we lose per week isn’t hard enough, now he has to convince those few remaining receivers out there to come play for a team that has injured more receivers this season than the rest of league combined has injured in the past decade. “You want me to play for the Riders? The receiver killers? Hell no!! I like being able to walk without crutches thank you very much.”

In other injury news, it appears Omarr Morgan will sit this one out as well after getting KOed in practice in a collision with Sean Lucas. Now, no disrespect to Morgan but this may actually help our team. Morgan has pretty soft coverage so he rarely gets beat deep but routinely allows 5-10 yard passes to be completed in front of him. This kind of play hasn’t been hurting the team (with the exception of last week) but it also hasn’t resulted in any game changing plays like we used to expect from Omarr. I can’t wait to see what one of the young guys (Heard or Patrick) can do in his place.

The big thing to watch will be how the O-line performs this week against the fierce BC pass rush. Last week their pass protection was about as useful as Lance Armstrong’s left testicle so they will be looking to rebound in front of a sold-out crowd. If we can complete a few more short passes and not take as many penalties, I think the hoggies will have a solid game.

This will also be a big test for Michael Bishop. Darian Durant is healthy and ready to go so Bishop will be on a very short leash this week. His inconsistent performance will no longer be tolerated; we need sustained production over 4 quarters. But to be fair to Bishop, he has played one solid quarter out of his 12 as a Rider, so he's still miles ahead of his career average. Tillman knew what he was getting us into. All that said though...

Riders by 7

Let’s win this one for #23. I want to see Mosaic the loudest it’s been all season. We owe it to our team and to the Little General.

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