Thursday the 2-2 Riders are in Hamilton looking to sweep a back to back with the Ti-Cats. Both teams have been on bye since the Riders defeated the Tabbies on July 5th meaning the Ti-Cats have had 2 full weeks to think about how the hell they managed to lose that game. Both teams will be fielding essentially the same roster so the outcome of the game may come down to which coaching staff has made better adjustments from game 1. Back to backs are hard to sweep, the first 2 in the CFL this season were both splits.
Let’s start on defense because if we are being honest with ourselves they are our only legit chance to win this game. We had a great game plan against them in Game 1 but this time around they won’t be caught off guard by it. I highly doubt they game planned for Gainey on corner and Jones’ blitzing constantly. This time around they will have. So the question becomes do with stick with what worked until they prove they can beat it? Or does Jones have something else up his long black sleeve? I think watching the film, the Ti-Cats will realize that they should have ran more. I also expect them to come up with some plays that try and break up our defensive match-ups and get Duron 1 on 1 with Banks. As good as the D played last time they still allowed over 300 yards and I don’t think we can rely on Hughes running for a 57 yard TD or a D-end getting a pick 20 yards downfield every game. I think we need to keep up the pressure. Masoli really didn’t look conformable under duress. We need to be surer tacklers and not give up the run so easy early. And we need to limit big plays. Long, draw out drives favour our defense as they will make a play at some point.
Offense I think has an advantage in terms of game prep… stop laughing and hear me out. While the Ti-Cats offense has the advantage of game film on our defensive plan, their defense will be hard pressed to discern any kind of coherent plan or strategy from the film on our offense. Good luck game planning that mess. Look… I’m under no illusion that our offense suddenly got good over the bye week. We are likely going to need to overcome a mediocre at best performance on O to win this. A few keys if that is going to happen. 1 – Limit turnovers. If we aren’t going to score the least we could do for our D is give them a rest and not give them short fields. We had just the one last week and low and behold we managed not to lose. 2 – Do something Brandon Bridge! Look I’m very sympathetic to a guy who the coaching staff seem to have as much confidence in as I do in the Montreal Canadiens to win another Cup in my lifetime. He also has a garbage O-line. It’s a tough situation. But guess what? It’s not like Bridge has done anything to help his cause: 0 TDs, 3 INTs, 2 Fumbles. Gotta start making plays if he really wants to prove he can be a starter. 3 – Run the damn ball! (if I had a dollar for every time I’ve typed that since McAdoo showed up I’d own my own island by now). Hamilton allows the 5th most rushing yards and the 2nd most yards per rush. And how was our lone TD scored last game? What’s that you say? By running? Go figure! I know it’s too much to ask to pick a lead back let them get in a groove and run all night but it would be nice to at least only randomly rotate 2 guys instead of 3. A heavy dose of Thiggy and Messam would really help our struggling O-line/O in general. 4 – We need a WR not named Roosevelt to step up. Given that Roosevelt seems to be like quadruple covered every play, he is taking some monster hits whenever he’s targeted. That can’t be sustainable for him health-wise. It would also lead me to believe that someone else is open but then again when your O-line sucks and you don’t run, most receivers could conceivably be double covered. Need someone to step up and be a hero.
Everything about this game would tend to point towards a Rider loss. On the road, second half of a back to back, we didn’t play particularly well despite winning, we only score 1 TD per game (but hey, at least we are consistent on that), the list goes on. The most likely scenario and then one you should be betting on if gambling is your thing is a loss. But for reasons that have nothing to do with logic, I just have this feeling that this will be one of those games where the Riders surprise everyone by playing a complete game. Think Week 8 last year where they stunned BC. Now I don’t think this will be beat down by any stretch of the imagination. But my gut says, logic be damned and Riders sneak out of close victory highlighted by 2 offensive TDs… yes 2, you heard me!
Riders by a Holley TD.
Programming note: As of this morning I am on vacation and headed up north to fish for a week. If the Riders win I will celebrate by drinking and fishing for a week. If they lose, I will drown my sorrows by drinking and fishing for a week. So there will be no sentimonies come Monday. I’ll be back next Friday to cue up the Stampeder game.