Monday, May 13, 2024

Monday Morning Sentimonies: Football!

The 2024 CFL Season is officially underway with the opening of main camp yesterday. This season brings with it a new coach and a new energy. I know it’s going to be tough to top team bowling but I get the sense already that Mace may just be marginally better motivator than his predecessor.

There are close to a hundred players currently in Saskatoon vying for 46 active roster spots or the chance to stick around on the practice roster. In exactly one week we get out first live look at the new team. Given that Rider football has been crappy for all but like 2 months of the previous 2 years, its nice to have some renewed hope. Its also nice to not have our QB show up in a walking boot or under suspension for sexual harassment.   

Training camp did open with a bit of a shocker as it was announced that DB Jalen Edwards-Cooper has been released. He was a highly touted free agent signing and was expected to start at CB. Something must have went down but that definitely opens another starting spot wide open for someone. 

Let’s take a look at each position group and what the key things to watch there will be. I do want note that you should take any players I highlight with a grain of salt. Last Monday I highlighted 7 rookies to watch and 2 of them were cut and one is on the suspended list. What can I say? At this point players should pay me not to endorse them.

QB – Obviously the health of Trevor Harris and how well he a Mueller are able to get in synch is the most important thing. This team will go as far as Harris can take them this year. Next is obviously the battle for the most beloved person in Saskatchewan… aka the back-up QB. It should be a battle between Fine and Patterson. I don’t like the thought of Pipkin doing anything but plunging on 3rd down and unless Coan is a phenom he probably will need some time on the practice roster to learn the game (if he is indeed worth developing at all). 

RB – Most boring position battle in camp. It’s the Ouellette show. Everyone else is vying for backup and practice roster. 

WR – There is a golden opportunity at American receiver. After Bane and Sterns, there is no one. Can Kendall Watson take a step forward in year 2? Can Geronimo Allison turn his NFL pedigree into CFL success? Will some unknown like Braylon Johnson step up? 

O-line – Godber will be the starter at centre. Hardrick the RT. After that there’s some intrigue. It’s a wide open battler for LT. Coach Mace liked what Reid and Emmanuel showed in rookie camp but its one thing to look good against people who have never played CFL ball before and another to replicate that with veterans. Brammer and Tucker are also in the mix. One of them needs to pan out if we have any hope of Harris not finishing this season early and in a cast. The guard positions will also be interesting to watch. It will be some combination of Ferland, Blake and Sceviour, but which 2 it is remains to be seen.

D Line – The departure of Robertson and the long overdue move to put Lanier back at DT leaves us without a bona fide #1 DE. I think it’s a reasonable guess that it will be some rotation of Albright, Korte-Moore and Carney manning the edges but Cox and Crawford will be pushing as well. We need at least one to establish themselves as "the guy" 

Linebackers – I am guessing the starting 3 will be Auclair-Thurman-Reavis. But depth in behind them is what I will be watching. AJ Allen has been steadily progressing and may be on the verge of earning some more defensive reps. Outside of TJ Brunson there is next to no experience among the American LBs. 

DBs – I had planned for this to be a very boring position. My main thing to watch was Amari Henderson. For 2 years now he has been good enough that he needs to be on the roster but not good enough to be an unquestioned starter. If Mace can take him from decent HB with some flashes of genius and some flashes of “good god please proceed to the bench” to a consistent reliable player it would go a long way to locking down that secondary.

But now we add the CB spot intended for Edwards-Cooper to the mix. We need to find a new starter. This is one I have some faith in. O’Day seems to be good for one solid DB recruit per year. Reavis, Williams, Milligan, Clark. Be interesting to see who steps up this year.


Anonymous said...

Very good analysis.

Ethan said...

After all the hype signing Edwards-Cooper why release him? Dislocated shoulder-not long term. And can't he sign with anybody now???? Not sure I'd be too quick to re-sign in Regina - & do I get to keep my salary??

Govind said...

I think Bryan Cox Jr. is in a good spot to make that '2nd year leap' I know he's got NFL pedigree but it still takes time to adjust to the CFL game. He was flashing in that game in BC in August when he got hurt slowing his progression down.

Rider Prophet said...

Ethan - I bit surprised they just didn't put him on IR but i think its because he's a new player to the team. If they cut him now as a failed physical there are no further potential costs unless we re-sign. An existing player I think is covered for a number of years. He keeps his signing bonus.

Gov - I am interested to see more Cox... that is both a truthful statement and worded in the worst possible way intentionally. Seriously though I think he has potential.

Anonymous said...

Our draft this year is looking more suspect by the minute. Our 1st rounder unlikely to be seen for awhile. Berta - gone. Wiebe MAY stick around on the IR or will he suffer the same treatment as Edwards-Cooper who can sign anywhere once healthy. I guess cutting an injured player with SK connections is probably not a good look. Didn't the Riders do their homework on E-C - he was injured last year. I'm guessing BC did. We went into the draft & free agency looking for immediate help this year.

For me Ouellette &Hardrick were fabulous additions. Carney for Robertson doesn't move the needle for me. My concerns for the team this year haven't changed. Is Mace for real or Claybrooks, or LaPolice for that matter. Coming in as a co-ordinator from a winning team doesn't guarantee anything. Is Mueller ready? And can Harris stay healthy? You need all 3 if you want to get back to the playoffs

Rider Prophet said...

This is a draft class that will need to wait until year2/3 to see the value. If Wiebe heals up and Hergel signs then it may yet be a solid class. Realistically we are hoping for ONE of the other picks to make the roster. Slight clarification Berta was not a draft pick. That was Johnson.

Cooper is a bit weird. Obviously they assumed he would heal quicker when they signed him.I was really surprised we signed Wiebe. We have his rights forever so we could have waited until he was healthy to put ink to paper.

Lots of big tests coming up for Mace. He passes the smell test so far but its only training camp. Will be interesting to see how that translate on the field come preseason and most importantly when the games are for real.