Saturday the Riders (9-6-1) travel to Hamilton to take on the Ti-Cats (7-9) in a contest that is very important for both teams for different reasons. The Riders can clinch their 3rd straight home-playoff game with a win, while the Ti-Cats need to win to stay in contention for a playoff spot (and possibly even a home playoff game).
Normally discussion about Hamilton involves heavy mockery of coach Marcel Bellefeuille but for awhile there it looked this year would be different (much to my dismay). After a brutal first game, the Bellefeuille-led Ti-Cats won 4 of their next 5 games and we’re essentially a lock for 2nd place in the East. Bellefeuille was even being discussed as a potential Coach of the Year Candidate (again, much to my dismay). But just as things were finally looking up for the beleaguered Hamilton fans Marcel remembered just who he was and proceeded to resume coaching as effectively has he had done in his previous coaching stints in the league (i.e. terribly) en route to losing 7 of their next 9 games and ending up in a battle with the Bombers to even make the playoffs.
To be fair, unlike in the past, Bellefeuille only made 1 mistake this time… problem is it was a pretty big mistake. I’m talking of course about Quinton Porter. Anyone who has watched him play this season can tell that he’s played terribly. Anyone that is, but Marcel. Despite Porter’s repeated turnovers, microscopic offensive production and being responsible for 2 of the abysmal Argos’ 3 wins, Marcel inexplicably decided to stick with him. Kevin Glenn must be wondering why Marcel hates him so much. When they were both in Regina, Glenn was kept on the sidelines in favour of Nealon Greene, and now in Hamilton he was benched again in favour of someone who can only dream of playing like Nealon. Simply put, if Bellefeuille had been smart enough to name Glenn as the starter sooner, the Ti-Cats would have clinched a home-playoff game. Then again, smart is not a word generally associated with Bellefeuille’s coaching (the preferred words tend to be laughingstock, brutal, ineffective and failed shot-gun draw on 2nd and long).
Onto the game…
While much hype has been generated over rookie RB DeAndra Cobb, I happen to think he’s insanely overrated. If you take away his 2 monster games against BC (because let’s face it, other than us everyone runs over BC’s terrible run D), he is averaging only 55 yds/game and has only 2 rushing TDs. Tell me why that is so exciting? A mediocre RB and non-mobile QB mean that the run is not a huge concern for the Riders this week.
There is only one thing to fear about the Hamilton offense and that is Arland Bruce. He is the focal point of their passing attack and a threat to score on every play. If you can control him you’re only left with feared names such as Dave Stala, Drisan James and the scoring machine known as Corey Grant. Problem is controlling Bruce is a difficult task at the best of times… let alone when your most experienced HB is injured.
By now I’m sure you’ve heard that Eddie Davis will have to undergo surgery after suffering a torn meniscus is his knee in the 1st quarter of last game and is out for the foreseeable future. That is a big blow to the team heading down the stretch. The good news, at least, is that Lance Frazier should be back on the field this week. Chris McKenzie looked alright for his first start so I’m hoping that with Frazier back and a full week of practice for McKenzie that we won’t allow another 300 yards through the air.
The keys to the game are fairly simple. Defensively we need to stop Bruce. The Ti-Cat O-line has given up the 3rd most sacks so we need to take advantage of that to disrupt Glenn’s passes. Even with Bruce, the Ti-Cats are still among the lowest scoring teams in the league, so if Frazier, McKenzie and the rest of the secondary can step up it will make for a rough night for Glenn (expect Chick and Baggs to add to their sack totals).
Offensively, the key will be ball control. Durant has proven he can put up points so as long as he keeps the ball out of the defenders hands I see another good game for him. The Ti-Cats don’t allow a lot of points but they can be exploited with an aggressive yet balanced attack.
The Riders seem to be hitting their stride at the right time of the season. With a chance to clinch a home playoff game for the 3rd year in a row I expect the Riders to come out strong.
Riders by an Andy Fantuz TD in a close game.
One last note…
It seems that former Rider Kennedy Nkeyasen has gotten himself in some trouble. He allegedly broke into his ex-girlfriends house and beat up her new boyfriend. Poor guy… whether its covering people on the football field or satisfying women it seems there is always someone who is better qualified than Nkeyasen.