Six things to watch as the Riders host the Alouettes

For the second last time ever, the Saskatchewan Roughriders are set to charge onto the turf at Mosaic Stadium at Taylor Field. Not only is this game the last time they’ll face the Alouettes, a team they have some significant history against, at the old barn, the Green and White will also put a rare four game winning streak on the line.

With back-to-back games against the Lions looming, another win could go a long way in giving the team confidence ahead of what is sure to be an emotional farewell to Taylor Field next week. Last time these teams met, Montreal demolished the Riders 41-3.

With that in mind, here’s six things to watch from a Riders perspective on Saturday afternoon:

The offensive line

Montreal may be a mess right now, but one thing they still do very well is play defence. That’s especially true of their vaunted front seven. Last week, the hogs struggled early on to keep the pass rush at bay against the Argos. They did eventually settle in as the game went on. This pass rush will be a good test for the young, new look unit.

Can he do it again?

Last week, running back Joe McKnight earned himself a player of the week spot after exploding for 150 yards against Toronto. That effort represented the best results from a Rider running back in quite some time. You’d have to go back to Jerome Messam in 2015 to find a similar effort. It won’t be easy for the former NFLer against Montreal’s defence but if he can provide that balance once again, it could provide a big boost for the offence.

Kevin Francis

The receiver turned defender is getting another chance this week. The Riders picked up Francis in the supplemental draft and converted him to safety. That experiment didn’t really work out for the most part. Francis is getting a chance to play WILL linebacker this week, something he’s done at times the last few weeks, there could be some depth chart shenanigans going on here too, so we’ll see how much he actually plays. Henoc Muamba is listed as third at WILL but took most of the reps at MLB last week.

Shifting secondary

Chris Jones has been forced to shuffle the deck in the secondary due to injury. Justin Cox and Jeff Hecht are both out. Otha Foster slides into a halfback position from SAM linebacker, recently acquired Andrew Lue starts at safety and Tyler Hunter starts for the first time at SAM. This is the first major change to the last line of defence in a number of weeks, it will be interesting to see if it has any impact on the defence.

More than a one trick pony?

Receiver Joe Craig will get a chance to prove if he can help the Riders as more than just a return man this week. Craig has been effective for the Riders returning kicks since being put in the role a few weeks ago. With injuries piling up to American receivers, Craig gets his shot to start in the slot this week ahead of Ryan Lankford who has struggled with drops.

Long snapping

It’s not very often a long snapper is going to find his way on to this list, but here we are. The Riders will use their third different long snapper this season with Daniel MacDonald out with an injury. The team signed veteran Randy Chevrier to fill the void. Kicker Tyler Crapigna struggled in MacDonald’s debut in the Labour Day Classic. You have to imagine the 40-year-old vet will come in ready to go.

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