Friday night the BC Lions come to Mosaic for the 2nd game in a back to back tilt with the Riders. Needless to say this is a big game if we intend to be competing for anything other than 1st overall pick in the 2016 draft. A loss drops us to 0-4 for the first time since that dreadful 2011 season (Remember that one? With all its Marshall and Berry and Dinwiddie? *shudder*) it also loses us the season series with BC. I realize that a team without a win has bigger concerns than season series but the optimist in me would like to believe those series will be relevant at some point this season… provided we can field at team at said time.
The injury woes just keep piling up for the Riders as you can now add Weldon Brown and Levi Steinhauer to the not-so-exclusive “Done for the season” club. Brown hurts a ton because he is one of our best defenders and I’m afraid to think how much worse our D can get as the on-field talent diminishes.
The frustrating thing is this… as ridiculous as our injury situation has been this season, injuries are not the reason for our struggles. We could have a winning record even though our injury carts have put on more miles than Gainer's cart. So the question becomes how to we break out of this slump and come away with a home victory on Friday?
Offensively we just need to keep rolling. Our mounting losses on and off the field are masking just how good that unit is. Want some stats? We have scored more points than anyone in the league, we are rushing for an insane 160 yards per game, Glenn is completing close to 80% of his passes, our O-line (including Dan Clark who I routinely berated in this space) have allowed a league low 2 sacks. This is a high power offensive unit and we honestly can’t ask much more of them… except maybe if the O-line (I’m looking at you Labatte) could cut down the penalties. If we keep running hard and spreading the ball around then we will score 28 points minimum.
Pretty much every good thing I just said about our offense, flip it to the opposite and it describes our D. Most points allowed at over 35 point per game. QBs completing a league high 80+% of passes on us. One stat I think it particularly telling is the fact that we have 1… just 1 solitary turnover this season (no other team has less than 4). That puts us on pace currently for 6 on the year… last year we caused 42 turnovers. For god sake the defensive force known as Zach Evans has as many turnovers as our entire team!
I do have to admit that I have seen progress in our defense through the first 3 games. Hell for 3 quarters last week they actually looked competent. They just have absolutely zero ability to finish. I thought our defensive coordinator wanted a D that would cut of the heads of its defeated opponents... instead he has one that places its sword in the opponents hands and hurls itself upon it. We need our front 4 to be a factor again. There is too much talent their for them to be playing such mediocre ball. File this under super obvious but the key to victory is containing 2 BC players: Harris and Arceneaux. Thanks in part to their line BC has had an abysmal run game but as they showed last week they can get Harris involved in the passing game to. Its easier said than done but our LBs need to key on Harris a limit him (tackling on first contact is key because he's burnt our poor tackling before).
We have been oh so close for 3 weeks now and I truly believe that with the backing of a wild home crowd this is the week where it all comes together. Defense will force 2 turnovers and while it won't be pretty, we will sneak out a victory by the narrowest of margins.
Riders by a Paul McCallum FG (after which he hopefully lights a smoke and flips of BC).
Programming note: I am headed off on some family vacation and will not be back until Tuesday. We will be camping and unless they've recently invented a tree that delivers free Wi-Fi I will not be able to post my Sentimonies on Monday. I won't leave you completely high and dry thought. I have pre-typed a post for Monday to ensure you can have your usual Prophet fix. The post won't contain any relevant information on the game but if that was your primary concern you would have given up reading this blog years ago. See you next week!