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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Getting Closer…

Riders 19 – Stamps 27

Was it ever great to return to the hallowed football grounds that is Mosaic Stadium. A warm summer’s evening. The excitement of a hometown crowd. Reuniting with the people in your section. Getting overcharged for alcohol. Yes, it’s good to back. Of course the evening would have been better if we had actually won the game but you take the good with the bad.

I was a lot happier with our performance this week. We played the best team in the league very closely for most of the game and you gotta like that. There’s definitely things we need to work on before we open the season but we looked like a competitive team and in the preseason that’s all that really matters.

Here are some random observations from last night:

- How were there TV timeouts in a non-televised game?

- Loved the Eddie Davis pick to open the game! I never tire of seeing Burris choke in person.

- Okay I am now firmly on the bandwagon of Stevie Baggs, “The Pigeon Toed Wonder”. He’s got such tremendous hustle and seems to have a knack for popping the ball loose. I still have no idea how he manages to do it given his aforementioned pigeon toes but at this point I don’t really care.

- Hugh Charles is another guy who made a strong impression. He is a Charles Roberts-style RB and should be a very capable replacement until Cates gets healthy.

- Durant cemented himself as our starter. He made a couple bad throws but he made some nice ones too (like that TD to Fantuz). More importantly he never seems to panic when pressured. He's smart and poised in the pocket… I think he’ll do fine this season.

- Eric Morris seems to have leapfrogged both Childress and McGahee in the kick returner competition. His returns were decent and consistent plus he'd be a deadly 6th receiver too. I don't think he dropped a ball all pre-season.

- McGahee had fallen behind Morris even before he cost us the game by coughing up the ball on that kick return. Miller said in his post-game interview that he doesn't expect McGahee to make that mistake again; I hope the second half of that sentence was "because we'll never let him on the field again."

- Daniel Francis may have also earned himself a roster spot with his bone jarring hits.

- Why did we even bother dressing Jeff Bolen and Perri Scarcelli? Not sure pads and cleats are required to be Congi and Boreham’s cheerleaders.

- Speaking of Congi, where did he learn how to punt? I was starting to think that Boreham’s job might be in jeopardy… then Congi attempted a kickoff and we were reminded of why we keep the Juggernaut around.

- I’m going to go ahead and assume that we were playing a really basic defensive scheme in order to evaluate players, because the way we were given 10 yard cushions as the Stamps completed out after out on us made me wonder if Omarr Morgan was our D Coordinator not Etcheverry. I’m guessing we’ll see some more effective schemes on D when the games start actually mattering.

- Whichever Stampeder it was that made the ill-informed decision to run that one kick out of the endzone for a 2 yard gain, better start looking for other employment opportunities, I don’t think this Calgary thing will pan out for him.

And of course no post on the Riders over the past 2 years would be complete without talking about injuries. Gene Makowksy went down in the first half with what has been diagnosed as an MCL strain and Geno is expected to miss 3-4 weeks. So before the season has even started we are already down 2 starting OL, a star RB, as well a couple other players who were expected to be on the roster.

This is getting ridiculous. We started last season fairly healthy but by the end we were struggling to field 42 healthy bodies each week. This season we’re already starting off in the hole. At this rate, we may end up having to promote the Saskatoon Huskies to the CFL if injuries keep piling up.

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