The sign outside Mosaic Stadium has been updated to say “3 days without a workplace fine” and in a refreshing turn of events we actually get to talk about a football game as opposed to fines, pre-practice squads and all that other off-field crap that has dominated the news of late. Saturday the 1-6 Riders travel to Hamilton to take on the 3-4 Ti-Cats. Neither team has won since Week 5.
Defensively it will be interesting if we can keep the momentum from last game where they turned in a great performance by our standards (admittedly it would be a barely adequate performance by most other standards but let’s focus on the positive here). Facing Zach Collaros now that he has worked off the rust is certainly not an encouraging match-up… then again pretty much any match-up not featuring the #1 and 2 QBs going down to injury is not encouraging at this point. I see two main flaws in the Hamilton O. The first is they are the only team who hate running the ball more than we do. The second is their O-line is beat up and giving up more sacks than any team. I would suggest to Austin that actually running the ball might help with pass protection issues but if McAdoo won’t listen to me, no chance Austin does. Our D-line needs to be disruptive. Collaros is too good to give time to make reads. Collapse the pocket, make him move around and get the ball out quick. Kacy Rodgers will play at corner with Buddy Jackson hurt. Normally a rookie CB would worry me but he honestly can’t be worse than Jackson. Not sure if we’ll see some of Hecht at safety. Again not like it can hurt. If by some miracle the D can keep it under 25 points again then we have a shot. Hamilton has by far the most giveaways… though Maosli was directly responsible for 12 of those so him on the bench should bring those numbers down.
Offensively they gotta show something. I really think we’ll need 30 points to win this game. Based on last game that would seem like a pipe dream but based on other games the fire power is there. Ti-Cats have a strong front 7 but they have a patchwork secondary with guys like Butler, Washington and Sears out long-term. Interestingly enough, the Ti-Cats are #7 in points allowed despite having the #1 pass D and the #3 run D. Some of that is probably attributable to the short fields Masoli often gifted them (still not sure how Angry Austin didn’t murder him). I would go with the usual attack: lean heavy on Roosevelt, involve guys like Bagg, Demski and Collins when Roosevelt is drawing lots of attention. Be a big boost if Chambers showed up ready to catch. This is the space where my weekly “plea to run more that just falls on deaf ears” goes.
Another big concern is on special teams. In one corner you have a team that is not very good on kick coverage… in the other corner you have Brandon Banks, who already has 3 return TDs. Hopefully Hecht will give us a boost in that department. I’m also not opposed to the “when in doubt, kick out of bounds” strategy. Be nice if our return game could do something useful too but it’s probably asking too much for every phase of our game to go well so I’ll be happy with good coverage and returns that don’t feature fumbles or penalties.
We played Calgary close twice and I’m confident we will play Hamilton close as well. Hamilton is not superhuman and we have played better in spurts than our record would imply. But let’s be honest here, if you are betting on the Riders to beat Zach Collaros at home, you can’t have watched very much football this season, that or you’ve pulled an Elliot Friedman and mixed up your lane assignments.
Looking for a close game late into the 4th but…
Ti-Cats by 10