Only three teams remain in the CFL without a win in 2017. Granted one has a tie, one didn't play last week and one is us... but more to the point of this opening, one of those teams will emerge from Saturday night's showdown with a win (unless of course we tie). The 0-1 Ti-Cats are in town to face the 0-2 Riders for the second contest at New Mosaic Stadium.
My preview will be somewhat abbreviated this week as I just got back from family vacation.
I've been saying for a couple weeks that this is a big game. Given that we squandered the first 2 weeks, this is damn-near must win if we realistically think the playoffs are a possibility. This is our last "easy game" (and I mean that relative to the remainder of the schedule as no games are gimmes for us). A healthy Ti-Cat team would likely embarrass us but the Ti-Cats are to health what we are to aggressive pass rushing. The bulk of their secondary and a chunk of their receivers are out. Also they are benching CJ Gable because its his fault that Kent Austin is the only guy who hates to run more than McAdoo.
Offensively I love, love, love the match-up of our receivers on whatever it is they are trying to pass off as a secondary. If you include the Sam LB, they are starting 3 rookies and 2 second year players. Normally Emmanuel Davis, Abdul Kanneh and Craig Butler would be locking things down but they are currently only locking down IR spots. I think the bigger loss is the loss of DC Orlando Steinhauer. A once fearsome unit looks almost lost without him. Glenn needs to pick that unit apart (Ray threw for 500 on them in Week 1). But in saying that Glenn also needs to limit his mistakes. Don't force it into double coverage like last week. Plays will be there if he's smart and patient. I think we need to balance it with some running to slow down a very good front 4 but that advice will be ignored so I guess its on the OL to step up and have another good game.
Defensively, normally Zach Collaros vs. our secondary would have me in pre-emptive tears, but he only put up 9 offensive points against Toronto. Granted Toronto has a much better D than us but 9 is bad. Losing Tolliver hurts that unit as all the pressure essentially now falls on Tasker. Provided we actually remember to put a defender on him there is little else that scares me in that offense (aside from possibly Tyms). We already know the Ti-Cats don't run so disrupting Collaros in the pocket is priority #1 for the front 7 or I guess the front 3 in our case.The OL did not give great protection in game 1 and while they will likely make adjustments they are not going to be the toughest line we've faced. If we can eliminate the big plays, I think we have a real good chance of keeping the score low. Collaros is a way better QB than Matt Nichols but has a way weaker supporting cast so its time for our defense to step up and play a full 60 mins (not taking a nap for the 3rd quarter).
While they won't admit it,I think the team as a whole is starting to feel the pressure. A big home win would relax things but a loss sends us further into a downward spiral that becomes harder to pull out of each week. Even coming off a week's rest the Ti-Cats are a battered unit. We need to take advantage and get this win. I think we finally get our first real party in the new stadium...
Riders by a Roosevelt TD