It’s a good thing I am a chronic procrastinator because this article would have looked completely different had I started drafting it partway through Thursday night. The Riders were well on their way to 4-0 and the Ti-Cats well they were fairly unimpressive through 3 weeks, it was shaping up to be a very favourable match-up. Then we went and choked like George W on a pretzel and Hamilton went out and lit up the Alouettes… all of a sudden this game starts to worry me a bit.
One thing I want to clear up about the game is Andy Fantuz. People keep asking what kind of reception we will give him. Read my lips (or at least figuratively speaking since this is via the interweb): I don’t care about Fantuz. He’s just another opposing player. I have no reason to hate him. If we are going to collectively hate on Fantuz then we better also plan on verbally berating Brendan Labatte when he comes out of the tunnel because they both did the exact same thing. I certainly hope Fantuz accomplishes nothing on Saturday but I won’t expend any more energy than normal to boo him… I have to save my breath for people I actually have reason to hate such as Henry Burris and the people responsible for the wave on offense.
Our offense is a bit of an anomaly to me, it’s producing 30 points per game (and did enough that we should have won last week) so on one hand I’m not worried about them. That said, at the risk of giving away the secret to our offense, any D-Coordinator by now who does not triple Sheets, Dressler and Getzlaf is an idiot! No one else on our offense is even relevant. Unless that changes things will get harder with each passing week for the Riders. Unless our big plan this week is to have Jock Sanders and Dressler switch jerseys and hope no one notices.
After lasting through some very good defense in the Esks and Lions, the Ti-Cats should seem like a cake walk by comparison (by the way I have never got that saying, its not easier to walk with cake, or on it for that matter). They just aren’t very good (hell they couldn’t even figure out to stop the short pass to Dressler 10 times in a row last time). Their D-line may be the worst in the CFL at this point. They are dead last in sacks with a meager 4 and their most intimidating pass rusher is a fat white old guy who coaches the Anaheim Ducks… what’s that? Oh, wrong B Boudreaux. My bad. But quite frankly Bruce Boudreau would probably be just as intimidating a pass rusher at this point. As always they have outstanding LBs. Best trio in the league. But then you move back to the secondary and about the nicest thing you can say is that they aren’t as bad as the D-line. Outside of Tisdale none of them worry me.
Hamilton is giving up 33 points per game and (this next stat has me licking my lips) has the worst run defense by far, giving up over 140 yards per game! I would run Sheets at them all day. Sheets performed well against the Stamps who have the best run D… he is in for a big game. Basically if we can replicate last week’s offensive performance (minus the last 10 minutes) we will be fine. I don’t expect the 40 we hung on them last time but so far the Ti-Cats look like they would have difficultly keeping a European football team under 30 points.
Defense certainly has their work cut out for them but I don’t think it’s near as big a task as some are making it out to be. Sure the Ti-Cats just hung 39 on their last opponent, but Montreal’s defense is somewhere between awful and non-existent. All the awful things I just finished saying about the Ti-Cats’ D would be considered compliments at this point if I was saying them about the Als’ D. So take the result with a grain of salt.
Our 2 biggest problems are the fact that Chris Williams and Chevon Walker can score from any point on the field (unless Williams happens to forget he is no longer playing on an American field and stops running 10 yards too early). Now Williams is legitimately good… hopefully we have a better defensive strategy than the “let Nick Graham run 5 yards behind him on every play” one we used in game 1. I have confidence in our coverage teams to keep him in check on returns (Go Canadian Hair Force!). As for Walker, I think he is ridiculously over hyped. As I said, he can legitimately score from anywhere on the field but outside of his 2 highlight reel TDs he has been extremely unspectacular as an every down back. He may be a threat to score on every play but the 97% of plays where he doesn’t run for 100 his threat is minimal. Play smart, maintain lanes and don’t give him space and he will become a non-factor. We’ve handled superior backs in Cornish and Harris. Also, if we get up early everyone knows Burris will stop handing the ball off anyway. Problem solved.
I could Chris Williams this post and just quit trying here even though I still have a few lines to go… but that might end up with me throwing up in front of a TV camera so I better just push through to the finish.
Of course I haven’t talked about the other big 2 on the Ti-Cats O: Avon Cobourne and Daryl Stephenson. Kidding, clearly its Fantuz and Boooris. Both are coming off big games (but again against a really crappy defense). I assume we will stick Brackenridge in Fantuz’s hip pocket all night. Worked well in Game 1. As with every time we face Burris, the key is getting to him. Because when he’s off his game it doesn’t matter how good his receivers are. We need big pressure from the front 4 and contact on Burris early and often. Maybe we can get a good hit from behind on him, and unclasp his bra. That will surely throw off his balance and affect his throws.
Unlike the season opener we will not be blowing the Ti-Cats out but I still think we should beat them. We have fairly evenly matched offensive (despite what the hype in the media might lead you to believe) and we have a good defense and they have a bad one. For me it’s that simple
Riders by 10