Friday, June 21, 2024

Riders vs. Ti-Cats: Home Opener

Sunday the Ti-Cats are in town for a rematch. The Riders will look to go 3-0 in front of the hometown crowd for the first time this season. The Ti-Cats will look to avoid starting 0-3.

There is really two schools of thoughts on the 2024 Riders and I’m not yet sure which one I think is right yet. The first way of thinking is that they are 2-0 despite playing some dreadful football and needing to rely on improbable late game comebacks. So look out if they ever get things figured out and start playing a full 60 minutes. The other way of thinking is that their record flatters them and they are a couple plays away from 0-2. So when the miracles dry up, they are in trouble. I think the truth lies somewhere in between.

This is clearly a team with some serious weaknesses. Penalties, pass defense and rushing to name a few. But I also don’t think their wins are flukes. That offense has legit firepower in the passing attack and the defense tightens up and makes plays when it matters most.

So what will it take to extend our winning ways?

The strength of this team is Trevor Harris and the passing attack. He has the most yards and TDs. He and Mueller are also finding ways to leverage the strengths of Bane, Baker and Sterns. 1 out of every 5 Harris drives is ending in a TD. We had 37 total offensive TDs last season and have 7 through 2 games this year. They once again get to face a defense that is… how do the French say it? L’Horrible… at least when it comes to pass defense. They have allowed over 30 points in back to back games and have allowed the 2nd most pass yards. And the thing is, they have only allowed 1 pass over 30 yards so its not big chunk plays that make up their stats, its short and medium stuff that they just can’t stop. Want another quirky stat? They have zero takeaways so far (I know I probably jinxed things just by typing that, I’m sorry). While Bane and Sterns seemed to have escaped major injury, unfortunately Balke did not. So Sceviour will be a full time starter. Be nice to get some semblance of a run game going. Harris is playing great but also being sacked more than any QB. Even a slightly useful run game takes some pressure off him and likely extends his shelf life. The concern is our O-line. We know Blake is out long-term and we had Sceviour waiting in the wings so all’s good. But as of writing this, Godber has not practiced this week due to a personal matter. That takes our OL depth from sittin’ pretty to sweet merciful crap really quickly. Hamilton has a decent DL so that is definitely something to watch. Our pass blocking has been able to overcome our run blocking but if that starts to falter too, all the fancy QBs and WRs in the world won’t help.

While it’s not super surprising to see Hamilton’s D struggling, many people (myself included) are surprised to see their O playing so well. And they are doing it despite their best receiver displaying all the catching reliability of a greased up double amputee. It would really help limit Bo and the passing game if our D-line could get some pressure… any pressure. Our pass rushers seem to be maintaining a halo around the QB like he has some sort of highly communicable disease. Though I am starting to wonder if scheme plays a part in it. In back to back weeks very talented RBs have failed to run on us at all (69 total rush yards allowed). I am not smart enough to know if we are intentionally sacrificing success in the pass rush to eliminate the run game but it does make me wonder. It would also help if our secondary (cough Sayles cough) could figure out their coverage assignments. We can’t be letting guys go completely uncovered and hope to win again this week. I am predicting that the home town crowd fuels the D-line to a 3 sack performance. Bo played his best game in years last week and it still wasn’t enough. For all the criticisms against our D there is one stat they should be proud of. They have allowed 6 total points in the fourth quarter. They up their play with the game on the line and I expect that to continue.

It goes without saying that we need to get penalties under control. But to be more specific we need to get special teams penalties under control. Almost half of all our penalties came on teams. Mario Alford may legitimately fashion a shiv out of supplies from the trainer’s kit and murder someone if one more guy ruins a big return of his.

The key to the game lies in the 2nd and 4th quarter. We need to stop sucking in the second where we have been outscored 25-0. Anything above utter futility and despair in the 2nd will drastically improve our odds of victory. I doubt our furious 4th quarter pace is sustainable (we are outscoring opponents 37-6) but its clearly a strength of this team.

If we follow the usual script, we will start slow but finish Q1 up 7-3. Proceed to play awful in every phase. Wake up late in the 3rd. Dominate the 4th and win. I expect us to deviate a bit. Look for a hot start, the 2nd Q will still suck but we will have a lead as a buffer this time. Still and strong 4th

Riders by a Schaefer-Baker TD in a game that will yet again take years off my life and teach kids around me new curse words. Not my kids of course, they have heard them all already.

Be loud.


Dan said...

Laughed out loud at your line comparing ticats receiver to a greased up double amputee. Thank you!

Rider Prophet said...

Another satisfied customer