For all of the chatter this week between Rider fans and the Stampeder faithful, the play on the field on Saturday left a lot to be desired, especially if you’re a Riders fan.
For the second straight week, the Green and White were able to hang around with the West Division’s top team for most of the night but couldn’t get the key play when they really needed it. Last week, the Stampeders offence killed the clock with two long drives to ice the game. This week, the Riders did a better job at getting the stops but the offence couldn’t back up the defence.
Twice, the Riders defence created turnovers, something that’s a rarity in Saskatchewan so far this season. Justin Cox picked up his second interception of the season, the only two interceptions from the defence and Buddy Jackson forced Jerome Messam to fumble after he had a 61-yard catch and run. Positive plays for the defence didn’t lead to anything from the offence. When a defence that struggles to create turnovers does, it’s important that the offence takes advantage. Zero points off turnovers against a top team like Calgary wasn’t going to get it done. The defence could have done more to help out too, especially Johnathan Newsome who dropped two picks.
Coming up with the big play is the difference between good and bad teams. Good teams find a way to make the plays they need to at the right time. Bo Levi Mitchell did just that after a missed field goal from rookie kicker Quinn van Gylswyk when Mitchell hit Simon Charbonneau Campeau for a 64-yard pass eventually leading to a field goal from Rene Parades that all but sealed a victory for Calgary.
So, while the Riders defence finally showed some signs of life, they weren’t able to come up with that game-changing play on offence or special teams. Such is life for a 1-6 team.
Ricky Collins Jr. found himself back in the mix offensively after going quiet for a few games. The first-year receiver had 68 yards on four catches including one that got the Riders into the red zone late in the first half leading to their only touchdown.
While it’s good to see Darian Durant doing whatever he can to try and win, Chris Jones and company had to be holding their breath on Saturday each of the 10 times Durant took off and ran. He finished the night as the team’s leading rusher with 74 yards. As for the running backs, it might be time to just give up on running the ball becoming a part of the Riders game plan. It’s been seven games and running backs continue to be an after thought, Kendial Lawerence had just 45 yards on nine carries.
Van Glyswyk had a CFL debut to forget. The former UBC Thunderbird did make his first career field goal from 54 yards but also missed two kicks. Making those two kicks could have made a big difference in the outcome of the game. Not the kind of debut you want to see from a kicker you used a third round pick on.
It wasn’t a good night for the special teams as a whole. Again the return game was ineffective and the cover units had their mix ups as well, most notably a 65-yard bomb from Josh Bartel that was still returned to near mid-field.