Monday, May 20, 2024

Monday Morning Sentimonies: Preseason Game 1

In a rather uncommon occurrence, today’s Sentimonies happen to fall on game day. The Riders open their preseason and the entire CFL season by hosting Bombers at 2pm. It also just so happens to be Victoria Day. A statutory holiday devoted to notable Victoria’s Secret models and their contributions over the years to boys discovering manhood.

While I am definitely excited to be back in the stands and get my first look at the Corey Mace-led Riders, I wish the CFL would have consulted me before landing on such a ridiculous schedule. When the season rolls around I get into a nice rhythm, game preview Thursday/Friday, analyze the game Monday. Well this week I have to preview today, analyze tomorrow and turn around a preview again come Friday. Won’t someone think of the Prophet?! Anyway, you probably didn’t come to hear me complain about my overt laziness being tested, so let’s get to the game. 

The majority of starters are expected to play and should see some significant time. I expect a full half for the likely starters and possibly into the 3rd before we start rolling out the contenders to be cut. I expect next to no one important to play again just 4 days from now so this will be the only real tune up for the starters. 

Here’s what I will be watching at each position group:

QB – I expect a very limited playbook so really we just want to see Harris show a bit of a rhythm with the offense, put a few solid drives together, and remain upright. Then in the second half we get to the real intrigue… will it be Fine or Patterson that gets the bulk of the reps? How will they look? Will they let Pipkin pass and result in me loudly cursing as that pass is completed to a blue and white jersey? 

Running back – Come regular season, this position will be electric to watch as we feed the ball of electricity that is Ouelette. This game though… this position has all the intrigue of watching a lean cuisine in the microwave. The starters and back-ups are firmly entrenched. There are no new recruits. We will likely feed Ouelette a couple times to get the crowd going but other than that my focus will be elsewhere.

O-line – Every Rider fan will be desperately watching this group. For 2 years we have had to ensure just the worst O-lines imaginable. Its been like opening a baby’s diaper to change it, you are not sure exactly what you’re going to see but you’re pretty sure it will be some variation of crap. We need to see this line solidify, particularly at tackle. Hardrick should be fine but can Reid or Tucker lock up the blindside? Will the absence of Evan Johnson make the interior suddenly less porous? Big questions that need to be answered. I will also be watching when (if) Zach Fry gets to play. O’Day has been hyping this kid since drafting him but he hasn’t been able to crack even the back-up OL in a period when the bar was historically low for acceptable performance. Maybe he’s on the Chris Best development path (Best was written off by fans years before he became a valued starter). But I some point I wanna see something.

WR – One of the most intriguing battles for me. There is at least one starting American WR spot up for grabs. Whoever can step up today will help their cause a great deal. KeeShawn Johnson appears to be the lead horse in the race but I have been hearing some good things about Dhonte Meyers as well. Team was really high on Jake Parker last year until he got hurt. Can he impress in year 2? 

D-Line – The tackle spot is pretty set with Lanier and Micah with Brown and Dabire for depth. D-End is wide open. I can likely guess who will be in the rotation but I definitely can’t tell you who will step up to be the starters. Carney, Cox, Albright and Korte will all likely be part of the rotation in some capacity but how many reps each gets could depend on who makes plays today. 

LBs – It was widely assumed that Auclair would start at weak side LB (and he may yet when the games are for real) but the depth chart presents a very different possibly. CJ Avery (who has had a good camp) is showing as the starter with Lokombo at CB to balance the ratio. Huge opportunity for Avery to try and lock down a starting spot. Also, with CJ Reavis sitting it opens up a chance for Rodney Clemons to shine. I assume Reavis will be the starter but these reps are very important to see what we have in depth behind him at one of the toughest positions to play on defense. Random conspiracy theory, Reavis is only sitting because we have 2 other CJs (Coldon and Avery) dressing and three is too many for the coaches to keep straight. Once we cut one or both of the other CJs, Reavis will be allowed to return.  

DBs – Is this the year Lokombo stays healthy and finally lives up to his #2 overall draft spot by becoming a starter? If I’m betting, the answer is no but he’s going to get a chance. That CB spot is wide open right now. Henderson not dressing also opens a chance at that spot. Henderson is ok but far from an unquestioned starter. Team is apparently very high on DeMarcus Fields who will start. I’ll be watching to see how he does in his first real Canadian football action. 

Mostly just want to see energy from this team under the new regime. I will also be curious if the Riders continue promotion like $5 beer prior to kickoff or use the excitement of a new coach as an excuse to resume their normal gouging ways.

After a 9 year preseason winless streak, we went 2-0 last preseason… and proceeded to be awful in the regular season. I don’t know if that means I’m hoping we lose but just wanted to note that preseason wins amount to as much as Chad Kelly’s Week 1 stats.  

No comments: