Riders 28 – BC 24
Wow I haven’t seen that many loose balls since… I’m just gonna go ahead and not finish that sentence.
Talk about an exciting way to open the season. Admittedly it was way more exciting than it should have been but in the end we pulled out a win and that’s the most important thing.
I have to start off by giving full credit to Omarr Morgan. I’ve been harping on him for his soft coverage for a while now but man o man did he look good on Friday. That’s the Omarr we all remember from his early years with the Riders… a game changer. While I’m not quite ready to remove him from my hatred list and declare my full support (mainly because history has shown that one amazing performance by a Rider cornerback doesn’t necessarily lead to more of the same) I will say that is by far the best I’ve seen Omarr play in 2 years, so hopefully this is a sign of things to come.
Speaking of defense… wow!! We knew Etcheverry would run an aggressive defense but that was unbelievable. 9 sacks, 3 INTs and 4 forced fumbles. And if our front 7 could learn how to wrap up the number could have been even higher as they were loose in the backfield all night. Poor Buck Pierce looked like a rag doll the way he was tossed around. My favourite is when we were treated to a re-enactment of Rider history with Pierce playing the role of Dave Dickenson and Sean Lucas playing the part of Jackie Mitchell knocking him senseless… what a hit! It was almost confusing for me to see consistent pressure from our D-line, it’s been so long since I’ve seen it I almost forgot what it looked like. Stevie Baggs is money, plain and simple.
The problem is that for some odd reason our offense and punt blockers seemed to think they were in a contest with the defense for most turnovers, and it was a battle that they unfortunately won with 3 fumbles, 3 INTs, 2 blocked punts and a turnover on downs. If we could have controlled the ball even a little bit our defense would have led us to a blowout victory.
Durant was pretty much what I expected. Flashes of greatness followed by flashes of Nealon Greene. He’s inexperienced, he’ll get better. I’m glad Miller finally learned some patience with his QB but Durant has to get better at protecting the ball. The whole reason he is our starter is because he’s better at controlling the ball than Jyles. If we have to settle for a turnover prone QB I’d rather have Jyles in there because he has more big play potential. That said, I’m not writing Durant off and do believe he will turn things around.
Fortunately for Durant, he’s blessed with receivers like Weston Dressler who is picking up right where he left off last year and Andy Fantuz who’s his old reliable self. Hugh Charles needs some stickum but looked good overall. Jason Clermont was the recipient of the most cheered for 9 yard pass in recent memory. I imagine he will be featured more and more in the coming weeks (mainly because it’s not really possible to feature him any less).
Overall a great defensive performance and adequate offensive performance led to an exciting win. We’ve got a lot to improve on but it’s a far better starting point than many were predicting.
As per Rider tradition this victory came at the price of an injured starter. Belton Johnson hurt his quad and will likely miss a few weeks. This means that Jeremy O’Day is our only starter from last year who’s left. This is where new O-Line coach Bob Wylie will have to earn his pay because we’re going to have to start a lot of inexperienced guys until our vets start to heal up. Hopefully what’s left of our O-line stays healthy because we are only 1 or 2 injuries away from a world where Charles Thomas becomes a viable option.
Around the league…
- Arland Bruce was fined for his homage to Michael Jackson. While the TD celebration was stupid, it does provide us with the line of the week. When asked why he didn’t just moonwalk to honour Jackson, Bruce responded “Michael don’t do that no more.” Bruce should have just gone with plan B and dangled a baby from the goal posts.
- Jarrett Payton may have set a professional foortball record for worst miss on a convert attempt. Don’t quit your day job Jarrett.
- Montreal is going the same direction as us and BC and lining up a converted DB at linebacker. While Chip Cox is somewhat undersized for an LB his fumble return for a TD goes to show that it’s not the size of your Cox that matters, it’s how you use him.
- Winnipeg’s offense was atrocious!
- Is anyone besides Danny Maccioccia surprised that Jesse Lumsden got hurt? He’s the RB equivalent of Matt Dominguez, all the talent in the world but unable to stay healthy for an entire season. I still find it hilarious that Edmonton seriously thought that the answer to their woeful running attack was to bring in the most injury prone RB in the league. That’s like trying fix a leaky boat with an old piece of chewing gum.