Saturday we celebrate 150 years of Canada and the opening of new Mosaic Stadium. I haven’t been this excited for a game in a long, long time (likely due to the fact that we haven’t been competitive in a long, long time but I digress). The preseason game gave us a teaser but I cannot wait to hear how loud our new stadium will be when it is filled to the brim with a jacked up crowd. It’s going to be electric. Between the atmosphere, the holiday weekend and the crazy 50/50 jackpot, this is one game where the exorbitant booze prices might not be a deterrent to mass consumption.
On to the game itself…
Not to be melodramatic but if we are to have any hope this season, these next 2 homes games are critical. We have ravenous confines of our new stadium, an eclectic crowd and a Bomber team that I think is outside the top tier teams and a Ti-Cat that is so injured I’m not sure they’ll be able to field a roster next week. After these games we get @ Calgary, 2 game set with BC and @ Edmonton. So if we don’t do something over the next 2 games then our playoff chances will quickly be on par with those of the Memphis Mad Dogs.
Offensively, the Bombers remind me a lot of us. Solid OL, good group of receivers, mediocre QB. The main difference is that their OC actually uses his RB and isn’t likely to ask Dominique Davis to randomly throw a pass. If I’m Paul LaPolice my game plan would have 3 things on it: 1) Run Andrew Harris behind that strong OL. 2) Throw the ball to Andrew Harris on swing passes and such. 3) Test or questionable secondary with deep throw once our LBs are cheating up. So it goes without saying that stopping Harris is priority #1. He is the motor that keeps that offense churning. I see this as problematic though because we will be relying on a very mediocre defensive front to keep a good Winnipeg OL from getting hands on our LBs. Lots of pressure on our LBs in this game, especially since our only good one is questionable for the game. I don’t care who he’s replaced with, the Rider LBs featuring not-Muamba don’t scare anyone. In the secondary the 2 receivers that worry me the most are Darvin Adams and Clarence Denmark. Sure Dressler will get his yards in but those 2 are the big play potential guys. I’m clearly not the biggest supporter of our secondary but quite frankly if they aren’t up the challenge of stopping Matt Nichols then there is no hope when we face the top tier QBs.
As for our offense priority #1 is protecting the football. It’s well document that the bulk of Winnipeg’s success last season was due to the crazy amount of turnovers they forced. Take those away and all they really are is a team that gives up a lot of yards and kicks a lot of field goals. If we control the ball, we have a chance. If there was ever a QB suited to take on the famous Richie Hall bend but don’t break defense its Kevin Glenn. Let him dink and dunk behind that line taking whatever they give. The big key will be coming away with majors instead of FGs when we get the chance. I think we need to get Duron involved early even if it’s a screen or a punt return let’s funnel his energy in a positive direction early. Obviously Roosevelt is the safety blanket but every receiver is going to need to be involved given the patient long drives we’ll need to string together. Some semblance of a run game would help keep what I think will be a very good Winnipeg front 4 slowed down a bit (but I realize there’s little point wishing for that… even though I would be running at Sam Hurl all night long until he proves he belongs in the starting lineup).
Maybe its Rider Pride in my veins… ok its definitely that and not logic but despite the challenges facing the team I do think they will step up and deliver a win to christen the stadium. It will be deafening, it will be electric and I think that will breathe enough life into the Riders to overcome their defense and offensive coordinator. In true Rider fashion we will do things the hard way and there will be way to much drama for my liking. But in the end…
Riders by a Duron Carter TD
Start warming up those vocal chords.