Friday, October 6, 2023

Riders vs. Ti-Cats: Legends Night

It will be with heavy hearts that we head to Mosaic Stadium Saturday (and this time it won’t just be because of the on field play). Not having George Reed in house will be different. I won’t add to all the well deserved praises of Mr. Reed that have been written since he passed on Sunday but I will say this… it’s a testament to his greatness that he stopped playing years before I was born and I still feel very emotional about his passing. He was a great man in every aspect of his life.

But amid all the talk of Mr. Reed’s greatness and the greatness of the 2013 team that will be honoured, its unfortunately the not so great 2023 team that actually has to play this game. We are on a 4 game losing skid and if you exclude the final 2 minutes of games, have not played anything resembling competitive football since Labour Day. But thanks to the craptasticness of the Elks and Stamps we are still in the driver’s seat for a playoff spot. Here’s the 3 ways playoffs can happen:

1 – Beat Hamilton and Toronto

2 – Beat only Calgary

3 – Lose everything but Calgary loses to BC and Winnipeg.

When we do eventually limp into the playoffs (as we likely will), I hope we do the ridiculous champagne celebration the Blue Jays did.

Defense needs to show up. They have looked downright awful of late. We do get Lanier and Williams back so that should help. To stop Hamilton you need to stop 2 people Tim White and James Butler. You do that and you have a chance. Hamilton is second last in points scored (even behind us) and they have the most turnovers. At QB it could be honestly any one of Bo, Schiltz or Powell. Of those 3 Powell scares me the most. I may eat this words later, but I would love to see them trot Bo out in Regina. He’s been awful this year. We need Lanier to lead pressure up front. With the emergence of Albright, I would love to see Micah/Lanier insider and Albright/Robertson outside. Pressure the QB (whoever it is) into mistakes. Don’t let Tim White run free in the secondary. Take turnovers when they are there and hit like you mean it. That’s our defensive recipe. 

Offensively for the love of god show up before the final minute of the game! This start with a nice drive and then take a 45 minute nap stuff is getting ridiculous. Hamilton is #6 against the run so dammit, let’s run! A lot. (Editor’s note: We won’t). Hamilton is 7th in yards allowed so we should be able to move the ball if Dolegala makes good decisions. I will reiterate my point from Monday that he needs to improve on his deep ball. He is completing just 27% of his passes over 20 yards. The only people worse than that are Fine and Bo Levi. For comparison, last year when we were all over Fajardo for the lack of success on the deep ball, he was completing 45% of those passes. I think short to medium seams and crossers are where we are most effective. Dolegala needs to stop focusing exclusively on what’s happening outside the hashmarks. Some of that is ok but too much of that will make for some easy pick 6s.

Many people are talking about an emotional boost for the team due to honouring Reed. I call BS. I think it’s definitely an emotional boost for the crowd (we better be loud as hell so Reed can hear us) but I don’t buy that the team gets a boost from this. As evidence I submit the game after Lancaster died and the final game at old Mosaic. Both highly emotional events. Both loses. Simply put if a team needs an outside emotional boost to win then they probably weren’t going to win anyway. 

I do think we play better and at least turn in a competitive performance. Hell these is even a chance we win (not just thanks to 18 simultaneous miracles) but after watching us play over the last 4 games and watching Hamilton (who by the way is still contending for a home playoff game), they are the better team at this point and until I see evidence to the contrary, we aren’t good.

Hamilton by a James Butler TD in the 4th.

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