Man oh man, if you aren’t jacked up for this Friday’s game then you are either not a football fan or in a coma. Home Opener. On Friday Night. Featuring two 1-0 teams. Against the much hated Stampeders. Short of legalizing the use of tables, ladders and chairs, I don’t know how they could add more hype to this match-up. Hell a Friday night game in Saskatchewan is reason enough to get excited, it’s almost as rare as a winning season in Hamilton. Mosaic will be rockin’ (well I would advise against rocking those new temp stands, don’t see that ending well).
For the Riders this game will be a big test of how good we actually are. Last week’s victory was convincing but it was against a team with a whole host of concerns not the least of which is an O-line that could be improved by replacing the 5 players with a velvet rope. The Stamps are superior to the Esks in pretty much every facet so we had better up our performance accordingly.
Offensively we need to work on consistency. We opened with 2 text book TD drives last week but then went to sleep until sometime in the 3rd. I doubt the Stamps will be as kind as the Esks in accommodating our dry spells. The Stamps shut down one of the better backs in Andrew Harris last week and you can bet they will be aiming to do the same with Sheets. We will need to get creative with how we get him the ball to keep him productive (swing passes, screens, quick dumps over the blitz etc..). We will also need to rely more on other options. Fortunately given how much we spread the ball around in Game 1, I like our chances. BC proved the Stamps can be passed on. Time for a big game from Dressler and hopefully Getzlaf can resume his Stamper Killer persona. Geroy Simon won’t play because his “lower body” is still injured. So glad we are paying him big bucks purely to endorse chips with a poorly thought out name.
The one major concern I have on offense is Ben Heenan vs. Charleston Hughes. Hughes just roughed up the best set of OTs in the CFL last week for 3 sacks and has historically had big games against us. Ben will need to step up his game even more and we should help him out with some extra support from RBs, FBs or chipping receivers. Or just run it down their throats lots so they can’t use their pass rush skills. Either way this is a key match-up.
Defensively, I’m encouraged by the fact that the Riders were the only team to play defense at all in week 1. That said going from shutting down the Esks to facing the Stamps is like KOing a boxer who is 2 weight classes lower than you and then facing someone your own size.
Obviously priority one is limiting Cornish. We all hate him and think he is an ass (both figuratively and literally) but there is no denying that he is a dangerous runner. This is where having 2 DBs as our outside LBs worries me. If I’m the Stamps, I would run it right at Butler and Brown until they prove they can stop it. Need a big push from the front 4 and Rey Williams to plug the right holes. Having Curious George back will be a big boost. As much as I would swear at him for it, a small part of we would like to see him headbutt Tate again. With the talent in our secondary, I would be inclined to man up the receivers and devote everything else to stopping the run… well technically Nik Lewis would need 2 DBs covering him be considered manned but I digress. Just don’t see Tate beating us through the air. Though he does have a talented enough set of receivers at his disposal to do so.
Honestly, I can’t tell you why, but I just don’t think Drew Tate is that good. Sure he’s had good games but I don’t think he’s that good and with a bit of adversity he’ll crumbled. So let’s give him adversity. Calgary is starting rookie Regina product Brett Jones at C and recently un-retired Dan Federkeil at tackle… the way our front 4 is playing you have to like that match-up. Would love to see George and Shologan tossing Jones around. We won’t dominate like against the Esks but we should still get pressure consistently. If we can limit Cornish (no small feat) and force Tate to air it our under duress, we will have success.
I’m also hoping a raucous home crowd will help fluster that idiot Tate. So a big key will be getting off to a quick start like last week to keep the crowd a factor the whole way through.
I think this game will be tightly contested but the difference maker will be the Stamps reliance on Cornish to drive their O vs. our ability to spread the ball around and get production from the likes of Scott McHenry. We will need a 4th quarter comeback (and a defibrillator for me) but in the end…
Riders by a Durant rushing TD.
See you in the stands and if you still have a voice left come Saturday morning I will be very disappointed in you.