The Riders continue their push towards the playoffs Friday night when the RedBlacks visit Mosaic for a late night kickoff. It’s the first of a season ending home stand as the Riders play 3 of their final four at home. I love night games. They always seem to have an added intensity which I’m sure is unrelated to the increased alcohol consumption of the fans. It’ll be a cool one so the booze will have dual purpose of jacking up the fans and keeping them warm.
The big talk around town is of course QBs… though this may be one of the first times in recent memory where those calling for the back-up to play aren’t just crazy wing nuts. There’s no sugar coating that Glenn has been useless since injuring his hand. Through the first 9 games pre-injury he was completing 70% of his passes, averaging 300+ yards and 2+ TDs a game. In his last 4 appearances it’s down to 61% completion, 180 yards per game and just 2 TDs produced over all 4 games combined. His drop in performance has been so dramatic that Kavis Reed will soon be inquiring about his services because he’d be such a good fit with the Als. Given all that it may surprise you that I support Coach Jones in starting Glenn this week. For me it boils down to it being easier to pull Glenn and insert Bridge mid-game than it is to pull Bridge and insert Glenn mid-game if one of them struggles. Glenn has been electric at home (minus the Calgary game) so he gets the chance to prove himself, albeit on a very short leash. Regardless of who is at QB we need to run the ball (you’d think after close to 2 years complaining that McAdoo should run more I would just give up but I’m as stubborn as a mule… and twice as ugly). I’m OK with Richardson and LaFrance sharing the load though I’d rather each got a few series in row so they can get into a grove. I would also like to see Christion Jones used a bit more offensively. He has been used a grand total of once on a sweep but I think given his speed some swing passes to him in space could be deadly. Gotta find a few ways to get him more involved (like Rainey is in BC). Unlike the first meeting we will have Roosevelt in the line-up which gives us a huge boost. Duron has been relatively quiet of late (at least statistically, I don’t think he’s ever really quiet) so it would be good to feed him early to get him going. I wouldn’t force it though. If they key on Carter and Roosevelt then Grant/Holley/Bagg should have space. Take what is given and don’t give them any turnovers (we have the 2nd least giveaways, they have the least takeaways so odds are good there).
Turning to the defense, Ottawa will have 2 key pieces back that they did not have the first time around that greatly change the complexion of this game. Jon Gott will be back in the OL but most importantly Trevor Harris will be back under centre. Going from Lindley to Harris is like going from a tricycle that is missing a wheel to muscle car. That said, I expect a very similar offensive plan from Ottawa as last time: run until we prove we can stop it. I mean if you are facing the Riders and that’s not your primary plan then your intelligence level qualifies you for citizenship in Manitoba. In his 13 starts Harris has 26 TDs to just 7 INTs so the pass game will be a big factor in this as well. No Foster, no Eguavoen and no Rodgers so big test ahead of our defense. It’s nice to finally be in a place to rely on depth from guys like Knox and Moncrief. Hopefully Chris Lyles proves to be a better CB than he was an HB. What I honestly expect from our defense is what we’ve seen the past 4 weeks. They’ll start playing like crap but slowly tighten up as the game progresses and finish having done a pretty good job of keeping the score low. Their artistic merit points would be awful (even from the French judge) but they have allowed the 2nd least TDs and the lowest completion % so, style or not they are getting the job done (incidentally that’s often how I’ve been described in bed).
I would be more worried about facing Trevor Harris after almost losing to Ryan Lindley but it really seems the Riders play to the level of their competition so much like we stepped up in Toronto, I expect us to once again up our game. The fact remains that even with Trevor Harris, the only West team Ottawa has beat this year is BC. What we need is to feed off the home crowd and start quickly. In the past 4 games we have amassed 6 total points in the first quarter. That needs to change. If we can get an early lead and force Ottawa to chase, it will make them more prone to mistakes.
Going to be another closely contested, hard fought game but in the end….
Riders by a Duron Carter TD