Friday the 1-5 Riders take on the 4-2 Stampeders in front of a sold-out crowd at Mosaic Stadium. That’s the beauty of selling 25,000 season tickets… most of your tickets are already paid for whether people decide to show up or not and its not hard to find 5000 other suckers (or the more politically correct term is people who clearly don’t have TVs). The system works!
The talk all week was about the flurry of roster moves the Riders made… though for all the fuss, the end result will be minimal impact on our game day roster. In are receivers Dallas Baker, Tyrre Burks and Freddy Barnes as well as RB Yvenson Bernard, and DL Shawn Lemon (the latter 2 filling our “Bomber cast-off” quota). Out are Luc Mullinder, Montez Murphy (thank god, he was firmly on my hatred list) and Obed Cetoute. The biggest hole to fill will be that of Cetoute who filled the “token drafted Canadian receiver who permanently occupies the injury list” role just like Nathan Hoffart and David McKoy did before him. Unless Sisco suddenly develops a chronic lower body injury we have no-one to fill that role… unless we can Getzlaf’s butterfingers classified as medical condition.
The match-ups this week certainly favour the Stamps (though to be fair they generally favour whoever is playing us). Stamps are undefeated on the road, we have yet to win at home. They have the #2 run D, we have the 2nd worst running attack. They have the #2 pass defense… we have an offense so bad it actually ranks 10th in an 8 team league.
Despite their 4-2 record, Calgary has yet to really impress me. I mean sure they are playing good enough to win but they are not dominating games as they did last year… particularly offensively. You want a sign the Stamp O is not firing on all cylinders: Johnny Forzani is currently their second leading receiver. They also rank ahead of only Toronto and us in terms of offensive production… that’s like being the best player on the Fine Arts department’s intramural squad.
I won’t rehash the defensive keys to beating the Stamps since they are the same as they always are… yada yada take away the zone read play… yada yada… keep Burris in the pocket… yada yada. All I’ll say here that somebody please tell Nick Graham not to bite on the pump fake. You know Burris has seen it on film… hell it’s so well known that there are probably penguins in the artic who don’t watch football making fun of Graham right now. Defense fared okay last time, so if they play with intensity and play disciplined they should be okay. Stamps O-line has allowed more sacks than anyone so we should be able to at least generate some pressure.
Offensively I would like to be optimistic but I’m not sure there has been a powerful enough hallucinogen discovered to allow me to be optimistic about our passing game… actually I’m not even sure it’s right to call is a passing game since that implies there is actually a chance of someone catching it… more appropriate to call it a throwing game… or those few brief moments before we kindly return the ball to the opponents offense. Calgary has racked up more penalty yards then anyone so in spite of our passing deficiencies we may see a few drives last more than 2 plays. As I said, I’d love to be optimistic but quite frankly at this point even just seeing a few passes completed would make me happy. Or if someone were to disconnect Doug Berry’s headset… or run him over with a car… no wait that’s too harsh… disconnect his headset it is.
We had a chance to beat these chumps 2 weeks ago despite the fact that we had no offense so there is hope. Calgary is a very beatable team right now. Our special teams have been pretty decent (which around here is a glowing compliment), defense has been holding their own over the last 3 games overall… if by some miracle we can string a few completions together we just might pull this out.
I’ll be in the stands, I’ll be cheering my lungs out and praying for a victory… but realistically I just don’t think it’s in the cards. Winless BC was too much for us to handle so it’s tough to expect the same group of guys (minus Mullinder) and woefully ineffective coaches to fare any better against a superior team.
Stamps by Jon Cornish TD.
I plan to cope by drinking heavily… though in light of the irritable mood I have been in lately following Rider games I will probably be switching to been this week. An angry Prophet and rye is a very dangerous combination.