Friday, November 2, 2012

Riders vs. Lions: Send In The Replacements

The CFL regular season will come to a close Saturday night when the Riders take on the Lions. Unfortunately the regular season will end more on a fizzle than a bang as both teams will likely be resting their top guys and giving the back-ups a chance to shine. Come to think of it maybe inserting the back-ups will spark this team... our starters have shown next to no urgency over the past few weeks. Maybe guys who are hungrier (i.e. actually playing for sandwiches) will.

We know Dressler will be sitting as will Durant. Personally I would also use Sheets very sparingly as we need him to be in top form if we hope to have any success in the playoffs. Fortunately we have an OC who is all about using Sheets sparingly, so even if they are “playing” him all game he will be effectively shut down for the day in the 2nd half. I expect Lulay will play a quarter to a half of the game. He hasn’t played in 2 weeks and BC has a first round bye. Can’t see the Lions letting him go into the West Final without having thrown a live pass in over a month.

Really this will just be a glorified pre-season game. Veterans trying to stay sharp and not get hurt. Back-ups trying to prove they are worth bringing back for next year. On paper (and based on the past few weeks) I would have to admit that BC’s back-ups are better than ours.... hell an argument could be made that they are better than our starters. But in a game like this all conventional analysis goes out the window.  Fortunately, unconventional analysis happens to be my forte.

Here are a few things I will be looking for:
-       Interested to see how Willy does. (Yes the Rider Prophet will be closely watching Willy`s performance). I like his potential but his 2 flaws so far are indecisiveness and running backwards for big sacks. Both are correctable rookie mistakes but it’s up to Willy to show he is making strides.
-       Excited that Brooks Foster will be back in action. I can’t understand why we won’t play him in a meaningful game but there’s a lot I don’t understand about this team. Hoping Foster just keeps doing what he does and making plays and forces the team to think long and hard about playing Greg Carr ahead of him.
-       Also excited to see Kromah back on the field. The guy was hands down our best defender until he got hurt. Leg injuries are tough to come back from but a healthy Kromah back in our LB core would be a massive boost for playoffs.
-       Word is that Macho Harris will get on the field for only the 2nd time this season. This guy is still extremely hyped in spite of his next to non-existent impact. I wonder if the hype would be so huge if his name wasn`t Macho. I know I would be off the bandwagon.  
-       Ismael Bamba is another guy I will be watching... assuming he actually makes it to BC in time for the game. You see he apparently didn’t have photo ID so he had to go in the equipment truck instead of flying (only in the CFL or possibly migrant workers trying to cross the Mexican border). I hope they made him ride in the back with the shoes or athletic supporters. The book on Bamba is that he is fast but an unpolished route runner. Interested to see if a season worth of practice has helped. Our Cdn receivers are in a sad state so I would love if he could develop into one that can be described with a word other than serviceable.

Personally I really don`t care about the outcome of the game, I`m just praying we show some effort as a team. This team has very much been in coast mode since Andy Fantuz mishandled our way into the playoffs. This is such a dangerous place to be because I really don`t think we can just turn it on come next week. Really want to see improved play in the trenches. We have been not good there of late and if that continues our postseason will likely be a short one.

We have nothing but road games ahead of us... no better way to kick that off than by proving we can win in the stadium where the path through the west leads.

BC by 4. (Yet another close but no cigar game)

As a side, to help improve the entertainment factor I recommend a drinking game where you drink every time the announcers screw up players’ names and 3 if the refs call a penalty on the wrong player... pound your drink if the penalty is on a player not dressed for the game. 

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