Riders 24 - Esks 31
The good news it that we were all so football deprived that the relative low quality of that football game didn't seem so bad. Don't get me wrong it was still very much a "drink her pretty" type of thing but the important thing is that football is back.
Let me give the standard caveat on preseason games: we were resting some key starters, playing with a fraction of the actual offensive and defensive playbook and the main goal was evaluation, not winning. So there is only so much weight you can put in what you saw on Saturday night. I'll always remember in 2012 we had a receiver named Jason Chery in camp. He scored a long TD in a preseason game and many were shocked that he was cut shortly after. The thing was he couldn't grasp the playbook, never ran the right route and only scored in that game because he fluked out on a broken play. One play that looks good on TV doesn't always mean the guy is doing what he's supposed to.
On that note here is my assessment of what I liked and didn't about Saturday's game:
- That was a painful first few plays for our offense. No one could hold a ball, no one could block. The good news is that we can all relax now that Durant has taken a hit and didn't have to be wheeled off on a stretcher... like he's been saying for a while: He's fine.
- Dan Clark sailed a couple snaps, just another one of the knocks against him. I think his calling in life is as a 6th OL and TD catcher. I really, really hope Watman wins that compeition.
- Speaking of OL, our back-ups are all crap. At least they all played like crap. At least our starters managed to block a few people. I realize Esks blitzed a lot but OL depth was concern going into the season and nothing I saw Saturday eased my mind.
- Receivers were good. I did like what I saw from Ryan Smith (before he was creamed). I get the sense we are ready to give Pierzchalski and his 6'5 frame an expanded role in 2015 which I think will add a new dimension to our O. Roosevelt so far is living up the some of the hype. Demski may take a bit to completely reach his potential but that punt return gave you a good glimpse at the possibilities. That 35 yard pass from Glenn to Taj is exactly why Smith gave our O a huge boost in 2013. If defenses have to respect the wideout going deep along the sidelines it opens up a lot inside.
- Yes Brett Smith looked better than Sunseri (bear in mind Tino played in the 4th with a lot of the future unemployed). But to me that's not a ringing endorsement of Smith. The scouting report on him was he was a 1 read then run guy and that is exactly what I saw. I like what he did with his feet extending plays but he is not a pro ready QB. Sunseri put all his worst habits on display: slow reads, indecisive, sack prone, interception. Likely some of that was receivers/linemen not doing what they were supposed to but man Sunseri certainly didn't help his stock. I could actually care less about the 3rd string battle. If there comes a point in this season where we have to lean on whoever our 3rd stringer is we are screwed.
- It will not be long before a company starts sponsoring CFL penalty flags. If you put a logo on one of those it would get more airtime than even that god damn Stihl commercial. About the time the penalties started coming in 3 per play, the announcers just stopped pausing to acknowledge them and tried to just talk over them. Gonna be a rough start to the season.
- I have been pumping Steven Miller (aka the Space Cowboy's) tires for months but man did he look awful on Saturday. Forget some people calling him Maurice, most people might soon call him unemployed. Also that Randy Richards (the back-up import tackle) actually went out of his way not to make contact with a rusher on one play. Completely side stepped him. Honestly surprised both of them are still with the team. Jamel Richardson only further reinforced my theory that he will accomplish nothing in green and white.
- The first round of cuts come down on Sunday night and Tino Sunseri tops the list. He had his chance to start fresh with a new OC and ended up looking like Tino circa 2014. Brett Smith may not be very polished but at least he showed something. Also cut were RB Terrence Cobb, DB Darwin Cook, LB Joash Gesse, OL Terry Hart, K Denton Kolodinski, OL Michael Philpp, WR Eric Thomas, K Cody Thornton, and DL Ryan Wellman (none a real surprise save for Gesse as he gave Cdn LB depth). Also the curse of the Rider Prophet Endorsement continues as Eltoro Freeman was cut too... sorry about that Eltoro.
Can't wait for Friday to do this all again but in person this time.