Friday, September 28, 2012

Riders vs. Lions: S,A,T,U,R,D,A,Y Night!

Thanks to the wonders of the CFL schedule makers,  Saturday marks our lone home evening game this regular season... also thanks to the wonders of the CFL schedule makers, it kicks off sometime around midnight. It’s a good thing the camera’s face the east end because all the old people on the west side will have to leave at halftime because it will be hours past their bedtime and the stadium will look empty.

The season series sits at 1-1 with the Riders winning the first meeting and the Lions embarrassing us in the second meeting. The home team has won both meetings so far so hopefully that’s a good omen.

You have to know that it will be a tough challenge when you facing the top team in the CFL. Unfortunately for us injuries are compounding an all ready tough match-up. Hawkins, Mick Williams, Shologan and Russ are all out. That’s a third of our defensive starters and with all due respect to Zach Evans and Robert Rose, there is no way a junior player and a guy who showed up 2 days ago don’t mark a downgrade. Getzlaf is also banged up... well to be fair that probably doesn’t affect the game the way he has been playing.

As good as the Lions have been playing, their offense hasn’t really been all that impressive. If their defense wasn’t so dominant their record could be very different. As evidence to this, consider the fact that Geroy Simon is their top receiver and the receiving force that is Chris Getzlaf has more yards than him. Or the fact that BC only has 3 more points than us this season... and we know how intimidating our offense has been.

The Lions spread the ball around to all their receivers making it hard to key on any one. The real engine of their offense though is Andrew Harris (you know the Canadian RB that doesn’t moon the fans... at least not yet). He leads the league in yards from scrimmage and is as dangerous as a receiver as he is as a RB. LBs will need to be sharp to keep him in check. Our patchwork DL will need to help out by clogging up run lanes and making life miserable on Lulay (like they did on Glenn last week). Given that BC has the best OL in the league that is easier said than done.

In terms of receivers, Arland Bruce is the scoring threat we need to be wary of. The slot combination of Simon and Bruce scares me this week because we are being forced into starting Milt Collins at HB. I’ve said it repeatedly but Collins is not very good inside. Go back and watch any TD Getzlaf scored against Calgary in 2009 or 2010 and you will likely see Collins (either as safety or HB) not covering him very well.  The Stamps attacked it last week and you can bet a talented QB like Lulay blessed with veteran slots will also attack that weakness. Maybe James Patrick can finally earn his pay and help shut things down inside (you can always hope right). I’d actually prefer to see Patrick at HB and Butler at safety but what do I know.

Shutting down the BC offense is a challenge but doable (our defense has been playing som every good football of late)... overcoming the BC defense will be a far, far greater challenge. BC leads pretty much any defensive category worth mentioning: most sacks, least point allowed, least pass yards allowed, least rush yards allowed (a microscopic 70 yards per game), most arm bars, most throat slashes, most ill-advised comparisons to Jesus. Even with Khalif Mitchell sitting this one out due to injury, our offense is likely facing its toughest challenge of the season. And it’s not exactly like we are sending an elite unit to do battle with Stubler’s defenders. We have an O-line that struggles against pressure and a receiving group that consists of Dressler and 5 other useless hacks running routes and dropping the few passes that go their way. Were it not for 2 tremendous RBs and a veteran QB who should be healthy enough to run this week we’d be screwed.

You can bet BC’s gameplan will be to stack the box and force us to throw. We will need to do things to counteract that. TE leaks outs and quick hitters (like the Dressler TD last week) will slow down the front 7 and prevent them from just attacking Sheets/Sanders. We also need to take some shots downfield to prevent them from stacking the box. I’d say throw it up to Carr but given how we have used our tall receivers in recent history, he’ll be running exclusively short ins.  So I guess that leaves Dressler, praying hyper extending Getzlaf’s elbow somehow restored his receiving skills, or praying that the BC Lions forget about Hargreaves as he wanders aimlessly downfield. Durant will need to play outstanding for us to have a chance. I actually think he will do well provided he remembers to account for all LBs in his passing reads.

BC is as tough of competition as we are going to face and in front of what should be an amped up home crowd, I’d actually be tempted to give us a shot on this. But we just have too many injuries and too few good receivers this time around. If we had the likes of Shologan, Foster, Mick Williams and Russ in there then i think we could squeeze out a win. As is though, I think we will play them close but come up short in the end.

BC by 10.


Pat Strain said...

I hope to see Greg Carr come out and have a game . You can bet the Lions will have Dressler double teamed as the other no-names do not pose much threat. Chamblin's strategy of shutting down Cornish last game should be applied to Harris this game . Try to make B.C.'s offence one dimensional and hope for some pressure from Willis .


Rider Prophet said...

I agree. I hope Carr does big things... just not expecting it

Anonymous said...

I'm a big fan Mr Prophet and generally agree with most of your pre-game assessments but not this one, it just dumps all over everyone, kick dirt on them and then makes fun of their momma's. You read this and it sounds like the Riders should be 0-12. Okay, maybe 2-10 because everyone can beat the Bombers.

I'm not saying that you need to blow sunshine up our backsides but I think you should bring some balance to the discussion. I know you are not a fan of Hall but after the first 2/3 of a season he has put together the 2nd ranked D with a bunch of newbies. Our O ranks in the top half of the league.

Still a fan, I just didn't agree with this one. Keep up the good work.

Rider Prophet said...

Maybe it came across as more negative than I was intending. You are right, I am not a big Hall fan but I will give credit where credit is due, the D has been playing very well over the last few games. Actually the only reason I am down on them this week is the 4 injured starters and Milt Collins at HB (though the depth chart shows Maze there, fingers crossed). Hopefully they can overcome this and keep playing like they have been.

As for our O, its entirely due to the strength of our Run game (which has been outstanding) and Dressler. They started great but trailed off. We are honestly one decent receiver away from being awesome (I think Foster can be that guy). But until then the likes of McHenry, Hargreaves, Smith and inconsistent Getzlaf who scare no one.

Ronbo the Riderfan said...

Please comment on the pass interference called against the Riders when from my viewpoint the ball was uncatchable. The only contact I saw was earlier when the defender was facing the line of scrimmage. It looked like a cheesie call to me.

Is it just me or are the Riders the expendable team in this league? Call tight against us and loose against our opponents?

Rider Prophet said...

Across the league there has been a lot of inconsistency in calls especially when it comes to pass interference and roughing the passer and it does seem that we are consistently on the wrong end of those.

I also thought the ball was uncatchable and the contact was minimal, I suppose by the book it could be PI but I've seen tons of similar ones not called.

I also notice that scrambling QBs like Durant don't get the same calls that pocket passers like Calvillo and Ray get... which is crazy because Durant hasn't ran in 2 weeks.