I’m not going to lie to you, the only way this game against the Ti-Cats is remotely interesting is if the Alouettes somehow manage to lose to the hapless RedBlacks on Friday and the Ti-Cats have 2nd place clinched before kickoff. Otherwise we will witness what happens when a team that is playing their starters and trying to win plays a team resting anyone that matters… and who played some pretty ugly ball when they were actually trying. This is essentially a pre-season game for the Riders. We will get to see what some of our back-ups can do.
Let me first address the people who are questioning the decision to rest people, Fajardo in particular. The argument of course is that our offense is terrible and we need all the reps we can get to work it out. Now take a minute and ask yourself honestly, how much progress will our offense realistically make in a half a football they don’t care about? Now ask yourself how much our slim odds of victory go down if Fajardo takes a needless hit and is either out or ailing for the playoff game? The right move is to rest people. We are what we are after 13 games. One more half won't change the world.
We know that Fajardo, Clark, Duke and Micah won’t play. Odds are Purifoy, Teitz, Boyko and Powell are out or extremely limited. I’m good with all of that. Fajardo, Micah and Purifoy in particular are our keys to victory so making sure they are heathy for the game that matters is a must. Normally with possibly two starting OL out, you’d worry about serving up an inexperienced QB to the wolves. But our starters aren’t very good so its not like it will be much of a downgrade.
Rather than my normal game breakdown, I’ll approach this like a preseason game and say what I’m looking for. Obviously QB is a great place to start. Really curious to see how Harker fares. I mean don’t expect much as he’s playing with our B team against a playoff caliber opponent but I want to see how he does (decision making, reads, accuracy) with an extended audition. He’s getting to the point were we need to decide if he will keep developing or has peaked. Also genuinely want to see what Paxton Lynch can do. I generally discount any high profile NFL QB as they rarely pan out but to his credit Lynch has patiently bided his time as a back-up. He may suck he might not, but at least we’ll know for sure. I’d love him to be good, but I also could not stand the immediate calls for him to start over Cody that will predictably come if he throws a solitary nice deep ball.
Really happy to see Morrow get the start at RB. A year on the practice roster in 2019. Started the year behind the clearly inferior Murphy. Got benched for the clearly inferior Davis. Dude just keeps putting in work, making plays and earning his spot. Powell can’t have many more years left, maybe Morrow can establish himself as more than a returner. Also genuinely curious to see how our OL does. The assumption is that given how bad our line is, that our back-ups must be awful if we won’t even play them. But maybe St John or Jefferson step up and look not embarrassing. Not holding my breath… like I assume Harker will do when he sees how much time he has to pass.
The thing to watch will be our D-line. Even with Micah resting we still have guys like Marino, Robertson, Woodard and Lanier who we know can make plays (though it will be a bit tougher without the beast that is Micah drawing the most attention). Hamilton does not have a very good O-line (remember the first time we played them?) so there may be plays made there. Looking like Herman-Pinckney and Alvin Jones at LB so run D and short zones could be a bit sketchy. Nick Marshall takes plays off in games that matter so I expect him to give up 2 TDs in this game.
This game could go one of 2 ways and it all depends on Masoli. He’s so inconsistent. Some times he looks like an MOP and sometimes he looks like a POS. Ti-Cats actually have less offensive point than us (granted they were reduced to starting David Watford a couple times) and are 3rd worst in yards. In a year where they started with Banks, Posey and Addison as their receivers, I’m sure everyone expected Tim White to finish the year with the most receiving yards on the team. If Masoli is on, they crush us. But if he struggles and our D-line can get to him, I could see this playing out like our Edmonton games, way closer than they should be but the good team winning in the end.
I’ll be honest, as much as I love good football that matters, I’m kinda looking forward to a stress free Saturday where all we care about is maybe seeing a rookie or two shine. Riders rest their starters. I rest my heart.
Ti-Cats by 10