Tonight the Riders are in Cow Town for their final road game of the regular season. The Riders will be looking to bounce back from a late game collapse last week while the Stamps (13-1-1) will be looking to continue their dominance. They have won 11 straight and I honestly can’t remember the last time they lost at home (had I been motivated enough to put in 30 seconds of effort I could tell you that the only time in the past 3 years it happened was in week 16 of the 2015 season… I really need to get me an intern to outsource all this work to… or a helper monkey). After a week spent talking about the Ottawa collapse and Duron drama, it will be nice to actually get back to football. Wait… what’s that? We are totally not done talking about the Duron drama? Sigh. Look here’s my 10 second take. It should surprise no one that Duron is high maintenance and wears on people (we knew what we were signing up for) and if you think there isn’t more to this story like Dunk/Naylor say and completely believe the Jones version of events then I’d like to sell you some volcano insurance. It’s all really weird and I hope we can find a way to move past it.
On to actual football…
I won’t regale you with all the stats I normally do. Calgary is freakin’ good in all phases of the game. Blah, blah, blah… Calgary scores the most points and allow next to no points. Blah, blah, blah, they pretty much top every important statistical category. You’ve heard it all before. We’ve already lost twice to them and have managed only a total of 19 points over both contests. So there’s no sugar coating that we are in tough this week. But you, my readers (all 6.5 of you) have requested I be more positive so the good news is that Hamilton almost (and probably should have) beat the Stamps last week and in the process showed us the blue print of how to beat them.
Three things were key to Hamilton’s almost success: using Masoli’s mobility, giving the RB double digit carries (even though he was getting only 3.6 per carry) and pressure defensively (2 sacks and the run game was a total non-factor). Now knowing the Riders as I do, they will do the opposite of this and employ old man Glenn’s non-mobility, give the RB 4 carries tops and rush 3 all night. Oh sorry I’m already getting away from keeping things positive. Let’s try this again, it’s hard.
Defensively my primary goal would be putting hits on Messam. My theory is this… the Stamps have all but sewn up 1st place and so they are getting into “make sure the top guys are healthy for playoffs” mode. Messam has been banged up and they aren’t likely to want to subject him to unnecessary punishment. Get physical on him and they are likely to get away from the run (as they did in Hamilton). A one dimensional Stamp offense is beatable. The counter argument is of course that last meeting we freely gave them the run and held them to 15 points but I like my idea better. Based on the last meeting, we know our defense can contain the Stamp O if we play our game. I have no clue what’s happening at CB though sounds like Duron will be the main guy. He can’t be much worse than Lyles so there’s that. I bet her gets picked on though. Also the over under on penalties he takes is 2.5. Is it ridiculous that Carter is our back-up option at DB? Yes. Does it make any sense to play your best receiving option on defense? No. But logic is not exactly a priority for this coaching staff so it is what it is at this point. Overall let’s be physical on D, as I said Calgary is in save it for November mode and not likely to take kindly to being muscled around. That could be our edge.
Offensively, the good news is that Cam Marshall looks to be back. The bad news is that Dan Clark is also back and we have god knows what going on at receiver. Dan Clark is a sack waiting to happen, our O-line has been visibly better in his absence. I get that this is the natural adjustment with Dennis out but I don’t like it. At receiver, Roosevelt is out (and I say he sits until at least the playoffs regardless of how quick he heals up); who knows how much we will see but it’ll be limited. That leaves us with Grant, Holley, Bagg, Stanford (fresh off the street) and Owens (which will make people happy) against the best D in the league. I know I said I’d be positive but short of Marshall getting 20 carries and 175 yards we are in very tough. I’ll remind you we’ve only scored 19 points total against Calgary this season. Personally I would give Bridge the start. Not to punish Glenn but because I think Bridge’s skill set (i.e. mobility and chucking it deep) fit this game better than Glenn. Plus, we only need 1 win in the last 3 so save Glenn to the last 2 home games plus playoffs. But no one ever listens to me (not my wife, not Roughrider coaches, even Siri won’t acknowledge me) so we need to find a way to win the Rider way i.e. with Glenn throwing on 95% of the plays. I would get Owens involved early. He’s not the player he was a few years ago but you can bet he’s fired up to play and will put everything on the line on every snap. We need to get creative with the ground game: Morris off tackle, Jones on a swing pass, heaven forbid a screen. One of the strengths of the Stamp D is how disruptive they can be up front with just 4 man pressure. You need to be able to combat that pressure or they will eat you alive (see: last time we played). Assuming Glenn plays I hope he has a short leash.
I’ll be perfectly honest, I don’t expect to win this game and that’s ok. 1 win or 1 BC loss over the next 3 weeks and we are in the playoffs so the urgency is just not there. We will be on the road no matter what and I don’t think East or West matters much. I get that we can’t just coast for 3 weeks and then randomly expect to flip the switch and be awesome come playoffs but with 2 home games left I’m not overly worried about this game regardless of outcome (most likely loss). Over the last 5 games we have a total of just 9 first quarter points. Any chances at an improbable win hinge on getting on the scoreboard early. Fall behind and we’re done.
As much as I would love to shock those smug Stampeders and ruin their home win streak (and I think it would be possible if we were at full strength). Between injuries, drama and a tough opponent I just don’t see that happening. My biggest hope is that Duron gets a pick and then intentionally runs directly towards Bo to lay a shoulder into him.
Stamps by 10