The Taylor Field era for the Saskatchewan Roughriders is officially over following the team’s 24-6 loss on Saturday night against the B.C. Lions.
While it would have been nice for the fans that the team make one more memory at the old stadium, at the end of the day, barring one of those instant classics, no one is probably going to remember the result of this game anyway.The outcome of this game in the grand scheme of things didn’t really matter, especially once it became pretty clear the Riders weren’t going to bring that magic to the turf one last time. The game itself ended up being just another game, one of over 600 played in the area.
There’s nothing wrong with that either. The loss on Saturday night doesn’t all of a sudden leave people with bad memories of the site. It doesn’t change anything that happened there since 1936. What really matters is all of the memories people have build over the years, not what happened in one game. The night was a celebration of the stadium that just happened to have a game happening at the same time.
The most important part of the evening was a closing ceremony that was visually stunning and did a great job bringing the past to life, while celebrating big moments along the way. The closing fireworks display could be seen from various points across Regina, fitting for the building that was the heartbeat of a community and province for so long.
So yes, the Riders final game at their longest serving stadium was a loss, but that’s okay and if you really think about it, given their history, both distant and recent, perhaps it was strangely fitting.
As for the game itself, the biggest oddity was how head coach Chris Jones decided to handle his quarterbacks. Jones said before the game that we would see rookie Jake Waters at some point, which is good. However, the way he rotated between both Waters and Darian Durant seemingly at random was not good for either pivot or the team. Jones should have decided early on to either play as hard as they could for the win and leave Durant in there as long as possible, or play to evaluate and hand the reigns over to Waters and Bridge at some point for good. The rotation didn’t allow for either guy to get into a groove and did the team no favours at the same time.
One thing that was clear after this game was how much work Jones and company will have to do improving the offensive line in the offseason. A presumably healthy Brendon LaBatte next season should help, perhaps a returning Chris Best as well. That said, those guys are starting to get up there in years a little and the group behind them looked like Swiss cheese against the Lions. Not all of the blown protection was on the line, as both running backs struggled to pick up blocks too, something that starter Curtis Steele is much better at. The Riders lost the line of scrimmage battle so bad that it was hard to get a read on Waters and the rest of the offence as no one had any time to do much of anything.
The defence had it’s worst game in a while but still played well enough to win. 24 points isn’t an unreasonable amount to give up.. The Lions offence certainly deserves some credit for making some plays. The defensive line lost the battle on the line of scrimmage with running back Jeremiah Johnson going off for over 100 yards and Johnathon Jennings was kept clean most of the night. So, basically the story was the same on both sides of the ball.
The Green and White also did themselves no favours being flagged 10 times for 90 yards. This team simply isn’t good enough to overcome that many penalties, we’ve seen it time and time again.