Riders take big step backward in loss to Alouettes

It took only one play late in the first quarter to know that this was simply not going to be the Saskatchewan Roughriders night.

In the final few minutes of the opening frame, quarterback Mitchell Gale tried to complete a short pass to receiver Rob Bagg. A simple enough of a play call, except the pass ended up being thrown about a yard behind Gale, making it a live ball after it bounced off Bagg’s foot and into the arms of Alouettes defensive back Billy Parker. That turnover (which took a review to determine) eventually led to a Montreal touchdown giving them a 15-0 lead. Is that an insurmountable lead? No, but you just had that feeling that things weren’t going to go right for the Riders.

Defensively, there were signs that it wasn’t going to be a good night for the Green and White either. Defensive back Shane Herbert seemed to have recovered a fumble from Alouettes receiver Duron Carter. Only problem? It wasn’t a fumble. From there, plays were few and far between.

On one level, this outcome shouldn’t have been too surprising when you consider the fact that the Riders are missing QB Darian Durant, basically the entire offensive line and many more. The depth on this team has been questioned since the start of training camp and those warts continue to show.

At the same time, the Alouettes are dealing with significant injuries as well. They’re missing key offensive pieces in S.J. Green and Tyrell Sutton, just to name a few. With just Nik Lewis and Carter, Kevin Glenn still put up 41 points. Montreal was also playing on a short week having lost to the Toronto Argonauts on Monday evenings and playing their third game in 11 days. None of that seemed to matter.

The question now is where does the team go from here? They seemed to have something going after a win over the Redblacks, now it’s back to the drawing board.

Other Thoughts:

Even though there was a lot of talk about the injuries along the offensive line heading into this game with Chris Best, Brendon LaBatte, Dan Clark and Xavier Fulton all out of the lineup. The makeshift line did alright. Offensive coordinator Stephen McAdoo deserves some credit for drawing up plays to get the ball out of Gale’s hands quickly, so he wasn’t under siege all night.

As for Gale’s game, just like it was important not to get too excited after last week’s strong showing, it’s important to keep things in perspective following this game. There simply isn’t a big of a sample size on Gale to make a determination one way or the other on his game. If he gets another chance next week should Durant not be ready, Gale should get his chance to show if he can bounce back or not.

We might be reaching the time where it’s fair to question the talent of the players on defence. We’re a few weeks into the season and the game changing plays just don’t seem to be coming. They can’t get to the quarterback with any kind of regularity, even with more than three man rush, and creating turnovers is hit and miss. Does a new group need time to gel? Sure. Eventually, there has to be signs of growth and we’re just not seeing it yet.

It’s time to give someone else, say Nic Demski, a chance to return kicks. Kendial Lawrence isn’t getting the job done. Lawrence went back 20 yards on one kick just to basically get no gain. Lawrence is explosive but might need to take a step back to clear his head and to get his game back. The players in front of him also need to do a better job blocking.

I’m glad I don’t pick players of the game because it would be nearly impossible after this one. Long snapper Jorgen Hus had a good night, I suppose.

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