Riders 19 – Elks 17
Never apologize for winning.
You would scarcely know the Riders won on Friday by what has been said and written since. Look, I would have preferred a more convincing win just as much as anyone but they needed to win and they did. That should be good news given that we are 1 game away from clinching a home playoff game. I will have many criticisms in the coming paragraphs since that was an ugly performance. But ugly wins count the same as pretty wins. There were concerns over how the Riders would fare in the road heavy stretch to end the season… well, we just won our third straight road game and we are guaranteed to finish with a winning record on the road. Are we instilling confidence for the playoffs? Lord no! but we will have plenty of time to worry about that come playoff time.
We seem to have found our winning formula. Defense sucks early but locks it down. Offense sucks generally but finds the endzone at some point. Duke Williams recovers the onside kick in a fourth quarter that is way closer than it needs to be and voila… W.
If you exclude the fourth quarter the defense once again looked great. I mean, Taylor Cornelius has all the talent of Tino Sunseri so it was not a hugely difficult task but still they shut it down. D-line made their presence felt. We really had trouble with Fletcher for some reason. It was a very mixed bag for the secondary. In the first half I was actually commenting about how we were getting good play out of Marshall. Then he went and played coverage so lazy on that one TD that he might as well have laid down on the field and had a nap. Do your job! I could have done without the late game collapse but I mean the D did only give up 17 points so I feel they held up their end of the bargain in this one. At this point we are going to go as far as they can take us.
Offense… well the word of the day was “force” as in man oh man did we ever try and force a bunch of passes that just weren’t there. Like the first one. I get wanting to make an impact early but you have to see the WIDE OPEN guy underneath and take what they give you. Bad read, bad throw. And that just began the theme of trying to force what wasn’t there. I thought the whole Maas offense was based on taking what was there? What happened to that? O-line is still terrible. Elks clearly game planned to take away the run. We did try and run 16 times. I would have run more but it’s not like we didn’t try. It was nice that we remembered Schaefer-Baker is good. He a big physical receiver that would should definitely use more. We finally hit a 50/50 ball to Duke that was legit a 50/50. I was not a fan of our offensive game plan but then I’m not sure the last time I was. 1 TD a game won’t cut it come playoffs but it got the job done Friday.
Was it ugly? Yes. Did we play down to the level of a really bad team? Yup. But did we find a way to get the win? Yes. Just look at the gong show that is Elizondo and remember that we could be doing much worse. Highlight of the game for me was the ref pointing out his stupidity in not being able to change his mind on the 2 point covert.
Other random thought:
- Gary Johson is good on special teams
- I still don’t like him, but minus the fumble (Rector? Damn near killed ‘er!) that was Davis’ least crappy day returning. He at least looked mildly competent.
- Vedvik is good