Friday, June 2, 2023

Riders vs. Bombers: Preseason Game 2

Friday night to Riders are in stink-town to wrap up the preseason against the Bombers. The veterans will be given one last chance to tune up before the regular season. The newcomers will get one last chance to make sure their plane ticket on Saturday says Regina on it and not their hometown.

Last week’s win has really thrown me for a loop. Normally I would bemoan the fact that we would get killed in this one, especially on the road. But now I don’t know what to think. Winnipeg is resting most of their starters… so logic dictates that we will indeed return to our preseason losing ways. I don’t make the rules, that’s just how it goes around here.

Offense is the primary thing to watch in this one. Not that I think defense is a slam dunk but the starters are almost all veterans and Shivers always has that unit playing top end ball except when the offense does so little that they literally run our of breath from being on the field all game.

Offensively we get our first look at Trevor Harris. It’ll likely be a brief one and on a limited playbook but its an important first step. Really just need to see him look comfortable, make good reads and move the ball for 2-3 drives. Curious what kind of chemistry he will have with the new look receiver group.

A big part of Harris having a strong debut will be the guys in front of him actually blocking. I’m a slight bit concerned at this point about the OL. I think Blake improves that line but our projected left tackle will play zero snaps in the preseason and has never played a live snap of Canadian ball. Our other tackle is far from settled and we seem to sign a new American tackle every other day. Hardly screams of confidence there. Hopefully guys like Lofton, Council and Shorts can show us something to give us hope. Also would like to get a good look at Zach Fry. The way O’Day was raving about him coming into the season he’s the second coming of Gene Makowsky.

I think it’s still an open competition for back-up and 3rd. Dolegala is likely the lead horse in that race but Fine ain’t giving up without a fight and Patterson is hanging around. Fine is probably up against the toughest odds. As a third year player he needs to show that we haven’t seen his ceiling yet. If the race is a dead heat then you likely give the edge to the newer guys in the hopes they have a higher ceiling. He will get time earlier in the game (i.e. with a higher quality supporting cast) so its do or die time for him.

As much as everyone wants to see us run a ton, I don’t expect it. You’ll see a little bit but we know what we have in Morrow and Hickson so we are saving the real running for the regular season. More important to evaluate QBs, receivers and pass blocking than running at this point.

Defensively there are 3 guys I’ll be focusing on. Stefan Banks, Miles Brown and Lloyd Christmas. We need one of those second year DTs to step up and give us a productive DT to spell off Lanier and Micah, or let Lanier bump out to end occasionally. As for Banks, he was the prized D-line free agent acquisition and I'd like to see him show why. Even without some starters, Winnipeg’s line should be a good measuring stick for what we have in that group.

At linebacker it’s the back-ups I want to see most. At some point we will need guys like Brunson, Harvell-Peel and Reavis to step in on D and this is the last chance to see if they are up to the challenge.

 Lastly, while punting won’t exactly drive ratings, an injury to Vedvik opens the door for Adam Korsak. Hard to say how long Vedvik may be out (could be a minor thing, could drag out) so suddenly seeing what this Global kicker can do is important. Good news is that by the second half I expect many punting opportunities.

While its always nice to beat Winnipeg (though sadly it’s been so long that we’ve almost forgot what that’s like) I expect us to lose and that’s ok. Main goal is to evaluate people and get the info need to attend to the easiest part of any coach’s job come Saturday… the cuts.


Dan said...

I know it’s preseason and it counts for nothing but it was not boring watching our offence play. Something I haven’t said in a couple years. Hoping this is a sign.

Rider Prophet said...

That's exactly it. It's only preseason but it still feels nice to enjoy watching a game again... Been a while