Saturday the Riders head to BC to face the Lions in a battle of 1-0 teams. Since BC Place is currently having a new retractable roof installed (one that is costing close to what an entire new stadium here would… I’m just saying), the Lions will be playing outdoors this season at a temporary stadium constructed at the old Empire Stadium location.
Though both teams were victorious in their season openers, it was for vastly different reasons. For the Riders, they won because of the play of their QB and offense as a whole, overcoming a great deal of adversity and a formidable foe. For the Lions, they won in spite of the play of their QB, overcoming next to no adversity and a foe that was about as formidable as the Egyptian ice hockey team or the Edmonton Oilers (apologies to the Egyptians for likening them to the Oilers). By no means will BC be a pushover but needless to say they were less than convincing in their win over the Esks.
Even though, the Esks offense provided about as much resistance as a soggy napkin, I thought BC’s defense played well. Their front 4 (powered by Kerron Williams) got a good push, Korey Banks was the playmaker he always is and rookie Joe Henderson looked pretty solid. That said they looked pretty susceptible to the run and I think their success at limiting the pass had more to do with pressure on the QB than the coverage of their DBs.
Offensively, they really didn’t do anything. Old man Robertson provided the bulk of their offense on 2 long runs and other than that they had to rely on older man McCallum to put up points. Printers was as elusive as ever but he looked shaky and indecisive in his passes which led to a very pitiful offensive attack. Statistically only Lemon and Glenn had worse performance than Printers. Given the wealth of talent he has been gifted in his receivers, there is little excuse for his poor showing.
For the Riders, obviously improvements are needed on defense. Our run defense was surprisingly effective and that will need to continue this week. Our pass defense… well it has some work to do. Part of that is getting better pressure from our D-line. BC’s O-line isn’t near as good as Montreal’s so hopefully they will have more success. The other part is pass coverage. You can bet good money that Wally took note of Alexander’s struggles and will be looking to attack him. Buono has any 1 of 4 dangerous receivers (Simon, Jackson, Arceneaux and Armstrong) he could throw his way, so Alexander will have his work cut out for him.
Our passing attack is not a concern other than it would maybe be nice if they could start clicking sometime before the 3rd quarter. Durant and his receivers are clicking and that can only lead to more good things. Even our running game looks to be a threat once again (though I will need more than 1 good showing to convince me). Wayne Smith will be stepping in for Joel Bell who struggled last game. It will be interesting to see if Smith can play like the Smith of old after being on the shelf for over a year.
Defensively the keys to winning are stop the run and keep Printers contained. That won’t be easy since Printers is as elusive as Bin Laden but he is not that strong throwing from the pocket. If we can avoid the patented “Printers scrambles around for 5 minutes before bombing it to Simon” play and force him to make more conventional passes I think he will struggle like he did last week. The pressure will be on Hawkins, who got caught too far inside a couple times last week, not to lose contain.
Offensively we need to attack, attack, attack. BC has a good D-line and a good group of LBs but without Barron Miles, their DBs don’t scare me. Our receivers should be able to put up big yards again this game. They key will be to neutralize the BC pass rush, which is always very strong. Part of that will be a good game by our O-line and part of that will be establishing Cates and the running game again so the DL can’t just pin its ear back and go after Durant. Cates will also have to be on the lookout for Korey Banks who sneaks up and blitzes a lot.
As much as I’d like to say that the Riders should have no problems winning this game, historically the Leos always seem to play well against us. I expect a very close game that will feature a lot of passing on both sides. It will also feature a lot of Buono starting somewhere near the hash marks and an excessive amount of McCallum love on the part of the commentators, both of which I could do without. I also guarantee that the majority of Rider fans will consciously or subconsciously (perhaps even superconsciously) be counting the number of Rider players on the field for any defensive or special teams play. As long as those people counting include the coaches and players themselves we should be fine.
Riders by a Weston Dressler TD