The first road game of the year finds the Riders in Toronto for a matinee match-up against the Toronto Argonauts. The Riders are fresh off a nail biting win over the Lions and the Argos are fresh off their first win since last Labour Day.
While the Argos, led by Kerry Joseph, looked really good last week you have to put it in perspective… it was against Hamilton. That’s like saying the Canadian hockey team looked really good against Uzbekistan. The Argos were running a very simplified offense and still dismantled the Ti-Cats’ D. I expect to see some struggles when they face a decent opponent, especially given how Toronto’s offense really stalled in the 2nd half. I wasn’t overly impressed with Toronto’s D either - even the lowly Hamilton offense seemed to move the ball pretty well on them.
For the Riders, the big question has to be O-line. We are now down 3 starters and had to fly in Matt O’Meara to man the tackle position that became vacant when Belton went down. For the record, with both Best and O’Meara starting this week we are but a miracle Nathan Hoffart return away from the 2005 Draft finally paying off for us. With the O-line a question mark, Durant will have to step up big time and fix his game 1 mistakes. We can’t expect to keep winning games if our QB can’t control the ball. In football as in life, failure to control your balls can lead to negative consequences (so I hear anyway). More emphasis on the run and working those short to medium passes (hopefully a few in Clermont’s direction) should take the pressure off of Durant.
Defensively, now that teams have some game film on our defense I don’t expect to see the massacre we saw last week. However, you know Etcheverry has more crazy stunts up his sleeve so I’m expecting consistent pressure once again. The key will be controlled rushes. The not-very-mobile Buck Pierce burnt us many times when our defenders came in uncontrolled so unless we can correct that Kerry Joseph will have a field day.
I really don’t think the Argos are as good as they looked against Hamilton. If we can contain Joseph, limit their ground game and force them to throw we will have success. Other than Arland Bruce it’s not like their passing game scares me (and he has hemorrhoids). Offense will likely once again do just enough to secure the win. So provided we figured out how to block when we are punting …
Riders by 10
Aside from the aforementioned return of Matt O’Meara, there are 2 new faces in practice this week: QB Cole Bergquist and OL Joel Bell. Bell is hard to miss at 6’7, 315 lbs. Can you imagine that mountain of a man blocking for Hugh Charles? Defenders wouldn’t be able to even see him.
We have also added a couple new faces off the field. Marcus Crandell has been permanently added to our coaching staff as an offensive assistant and Brendan Taman has been hired to replace Tony Playtor as the Director of Football Administration. While I’m glad to see Crandell stay a part of this team, I’m not so enthusiastic on the Taman move. In his current role I’m fine with Taman, we need someone to replace Playtor and handle the admin side of things during the season. However, what does scare me is the possibility of Taman eventually becoming our GM. We don’t have near enough draft picks or napkins to support his recruiting efforts.
Around the CFL…
Derick Armstrong may be on his way out of Winnipeg. He refused to play the last game after being informed he would be relegated to back-up duty. This didn’t sit well with Coach Kelly who has asked him not to attend practice while they try and trade the former all-star. Aside from his recent attitude problem there are concerns over the durability of his injured knee. In the interim, Kelly took the logical step of making an offer to Matt Dominguez whose knees are of course far more durable. Is there anyone left out there who still thinks that Kelly is sane? Dominguez turned down the offer and my sources indicate that Kelly’s other ideas include tracking down Nathan Hoffart and trading the Riders for David McKoy.
Hamilton actually made a decent personel move last week, signing former BC Lions LB Jamall Johnson. While Johnson (who garnered NFL interest over the offseason) should have a positive impact on Hamilton’s pourous defense, Hamilton doesn’t exactly have the best luck when it comes to bringing in high profile names. Given the resounding successes that Casey Printers and Kenton Keith have been for the franchise, it’s hard to get excited about Johnson’s chances.
Lastly… Former CFL QB Timmy Chang was arrested last week. Allegedly he was caught beating someone up on camera by some girl and he got mad, wrestled the camera away from her and threw it onto a nearby roof. Man, if he had displayed that kinda strength and accuracy with his throws when he was in the CFL maybe he wouldn’t be unemployed right now.