Saturday the Riders (8-6-1) take on the Lions (8-7) in front of a sell-out crowd at Mosaic Stadium. This will be their 4th and final meeting of the year with the home team taking each of the previous games. Hopefully that’s a good omen because I’m not sure my body can handle too many more Post-BC Loss Rage-Filled Evenings (also the Humane Society is none too impressed at my tendency for punching small animals when I’m in said state).
BC comes into this game on a 3 game win streak and look to be finally hitting their stride after struggling out of the gates. Travis Lulay was the hero last week for the Lions. Unfortunately he seems to have taken Buono’s request to step up and play like a starter a bit too literally and has already suffered a shoulder injury like all of his predecessors. That’s the thing about BC QBs, they are either white, talented and ridiculously injury prone or black, dumb as bricks and almost as injury prone. Which is a fantastic segue to Casey Printers…
After spending the bulk of this season promoting himself as a motivational speaker (and by that I mean sitting at home waiting for the phone to ring), Printers will return to the starter’s role in BC for the first time since 2005. The big question is of course which Printers will we see? The 2004 version that was named league MOP or the 2008 version that closely contested Michael Bishop for most embarrassing QB in the league. Personally I’m expecting something somewhere in the middle but closer to the embarrassing side than the MOP side (seriously he was cut in favour of Quinton Porter… that should tell you something). Besides as Rider/Lion history will dictate, we should be more worried about the unknown 3rd stringer than the starter. We’ve made household names out of Printers and Pierce so consider me officially more worried about a breakout performance by Zac Champion than Printers. This is an offense that is #1 in the league in giveaways and has given up the most sacks of any western team. Simon and Jackson are a dangerous combo but only on those rare times when the QB manages to avoid the sack and throw to the correct coloured jersey.
The bigger concern going into this game is Mallett (and to a lesser extent Harris). With a rapidly depleting stable of QBs, you know that BC will try to rely on the run… and Mallett is very capable of chewing up big yards. This is concerning because we’re still not that great at stopping the run. Also, an effective run game will set up play action and I think that’s Printers’ only chance at being dangerous. Also playing into my concern is word that Kitwana Jones will spend some time at DT. We all know I’m a big Kitwana fan but it’s extremely concerning to think that against a strong running team it might be up to him to plug things up in the middle. That’s kinda like hiring a bunch of fine arts majors to serve as your muscle for your loan sharking operation (What are they going to do? Choke someone with their designer scarves?).
For the Riders I’m not quite sure what to expect. Three weeks ago against BC, the defense played like champions but the offense pooped the bed. Last week, the offense turned in their best performance of the season but the defense couldn’t hold up. If they could ever synchronize their strong play we might actually come away with wins on a consistent basis.
Every time we play I mention that BC has the absolute worst run defense in the CFL and every time the Riders seem to go out of their way to disprove my claim. So this week I won’t even bother. I’m just going to go ahead and assume that our running game will be unimaginative and ineffective and hope that Durant can win us the game through the air.
Offensively the key will be to eliminate turnovers. If Darian can play as well as he did last week I see us putting up a lot of points. Defensively the key will be to stop the run and force Printers to beat us through the air… mainly because that is about as likely as a Jackson 5 reunion tour… too soon?
We’ve blown 2 BC games that we should have won, so I figure this time we finally get our act together in front of the home crowd. Let’s hope for a storybook ending where a Paul McCallum shank leads to a Clermont TD.
Riders by 7