The Riders let a sure win slip away last week when playing the Ottawa REDBLACKS and it doesn’t get any easier this week. The Riders travel to Calgary to take on the 13-1-1 Stampeders in a huge game for the Green and White. If the Riders win they claim a playoff spot for the first time since 2014. That will be no easy task but I know a few ways the Riders can make it a little easier on themselves.
Events that took place this week involving Duron Carter had some fans wondering if he would play this week or if he would even be on the team anymore. Clearly he is still on the team and taking on a bigger role than he has ever had with Saskatchewan. This week Duron Carter will be starting on the corner. Josh Stanford will start in Duron’s place on offence but expect Carter to have quite a few offensive series as well. The key for the Riders coaching staff is to keep him rested but play him as much as possible on offence at the same time. It’s going to be a tough balancing act. Duron Carter is no push over on the corner. If Bo Levi thinks he’s going to be able to pick on Carter all game he could be watching a couple of balls go back the other way. It will be exciting to see Duron in action on Friday.
Return of the King
Cameron Marshall is back. I couldn’t be more happy to write those words. Ever since Marshall got hurt the offence has looked lost at times. Cameron Marshall is the total package. He runs hard, catches well and is an elite blocker in the pass game. The Riders need to reestablish their run game this week against Calgary if they have any shot at winning. I think Cameron Marshall will be the spark plug KG and the offence have been missing when he returns to the backfield on Friday.
Win the Trench Battles
The Riders offensive and defensive lines are 0-2 against Calgary this year and it hasn’t been close. The lines have to push back this week against the Stamps if they are to win the game. Keeping Kevin Glenn upright is imperative to the Riders’ success this week. The O-line hasn’t been able to do that in the first two meetings. On the defensive side of the ball the Riders got exactly zero pressure on Bo Levi the last time these two teams met but he was largely ineffective anyway. Chris Jones’ strategy was to sit back and force Bo Levi Mitchell to make plays. He did have a couple but the defence held strong when they had to. Getting a few knocks on Bo from the D-line would help the defensive backs out big time this week.
Bend but Don’t Break
The Riders defence fell apart last week in the last five minutes of the game against Trevor Harris and the REDBLACKS. This week they are going to be going up against a very proficient offence led by the CFL’s best rusher Jerome Messam. The last time these two teams played Messam put up good numbers but the Rider D stood strong when their backs were against the wall. That same strategy will come in to play this week. It is impossible to shut down Messam but if they can hold him to three or four yards on first down carries then it makes second down more manageable. When bad things happen is when Messam is allowed to pick up seven or eight yards because the Stamps will capitalize on second and two, nine times out of ten. Containing Messam this week is a huge key.
The Riders are playing a very good football team this week. It would be easy to say, that with some of the injuries the Riders have right now, that this game is a wash. I don’t feel like that is the case and I’m sure the players don’t either. This is a chance to clinch a playoff spot against the best team in the CFL. Now, Calgary may get up a few scores or make some huge momentum changing plays. The key for the Riders will be to maintain focus and chip away at whatever deficit they may face. This Saskatchewan offence can put up big numbers, I’ve seen it happen many times this year. If they can get Cameron Marshall involved and keep KG upright they are never out of a game. As long as they don’t panic when adversity comes their way this game should come right down to the wire.
The Riders have a big hill to climb this week but I think they are up to the task. On field distractions are behind them and now it’s time to prove that whatever happened at practice this week isn’t going to ruin what this team has going. It’s time to prove to the CFL that they are for real and the only way to do that is to knock off the top dog. I feel a big Rider upset this week, lets hope I’m right.