Riders 27 - Lions 40
After 2 straight games where glimmers of hope were emerging, the growing optimism in Rider Nation was dealt a harsh blow. Saturday's game was a bit like watching a real life version of The Replacements. Though unlike what years of Hollywood movies have taught us, there isn't always a happy ending (or Keanu Reeves or kickers who smoke). The game started out with so much promise but quickly deteriorated to a serious question of "will we have enough players to finish the game?" We knew coming into the season that our depth was questionable. Saturday we were testing every inch of that depth... with predictable results.
I'll start with the positives... mainly because there were far less of them.
This was the first game were I really noticed our front 4 getting solid disruption (at least at times). They were supposed to be a real strength for this team and thus far they have been very average. I think the addition of McInley helped. Hopefully this is something that unit can build on because, BC has a pretty good O-line. We need far more out of them on a consistent basis.
Overall I like how all members of the receiving group are contributing to our pass offense. We have lots of good weapons and the more we keep spreading the ball around, the better it will make our offense. Mitchell Gale did something we haven't seen a Rider back-up QB do in a long time: look competent. He was by no means an all-star out there but he at least looked calm and didn't turn the ball over. You can tell the bar for back-up QBs has been set low here in Saskatchewan. By virtue of the fact that he didn't fumble like Moniz and the fact that he didn't fail to make a decision like Sunseri, we generally think he's ok.
In terms of criticisms its hard to be too critical given the fact that our starting QB, best O-lineman, starting Cdn WR, starting CB and another Canadian RB all went down to injury. Don't forget also that we are already down our centre and RG meaning our entire interior OL was out. Tough for any team to win in those circumstances, let alone a team with so little depth like us. Guys like Tevaughn Campbell have no business being a starter (a fact made obvious when he literally chose to cover air instead of an actual human being) but such is our lot in life right now.
That said, despite our injury situation I thought we could have been better. Our aversion to running the football is starting to bother me. We ran the ball just 6 times all game and only 3 after Gale was in the game. With a patchwork OL and back-up QB and the lead, most coaches would opt to take pressure off both by running. We instead thought that an air show was our best chance. I know just finding a package with enough Canadians was a struggle but still... run the damn ball!
Defensively, we knew our secondary would be a liability early. So that part comes as no surprise. Especially when Justin Cox went down. It's like they say, its tough to expect a happy ending without Cox. In back to back games we have allowed over 25 second half points after having the lead at halftime. Now a large part of the blame (especially in this game) goes to the offense for doing absolutely nothing and leaving our D on the field way too long. Still, our second half defense needs to be better, starting with the front 4 all the way back to the secondary.
It will be a rough few weeks in Riderville as we wait on Durant to heal. Not to mention all of our Canadian Linemen. I suggest finding a good coping mechanism... preferably a legal one but I guess that decision is up to you.
Other random thoughts:
- Anyone who uses this game to voice concerns about Durant's durability need to give their head a shake. Not many QBs ankles can withstand a low hit like that.
- On a positive note, at least we weren't stopped on 3rd and short.
- Ever notice how the only time people talk about Jonathan Jennings having a breakout game its after he plays a really bad Rider secondary?