Six things to watch during the Riders season finale in B.C.

Well, this is it. A season that began all the way back in June when the Riders took to the field for training camp in Saskatoon is about to come to an end.

For some, it’s been another disappointing year in Riderville. For others, the team was more or less what they realistically expected. With just five wins under their belts, the Riders will again miss the playoffs but overall, it was a better year than last year. There will be plenty of time to break down the Riders season in the weeks to come, for now, there’s still one more game to play Saturday in B.C.

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

Quarterback

On Thursday, head coach Chris Jones said that Darian Durant would start this game. Well, either he had a chance of heart or that was a lie as Durant isn’t even listed anywhere on the 46-man roster. Instead, the team will go with Mitchell Gale, G.J. Kinne and Brandon Bridge behind centre. Jones did also say that Kinne would rotate into the game. This game could be a good opportunity to take a longer took at Bridge as well. Gale’s reps should be scaled back as he’s been around enough and has made a couple of starts, so Jones should know what he has in the former Argo.  Kinne will be the fifth Riders pivot to throw a pass this year, the most they’ve used in a single season since 1996.

Protection 

Last week against B.C. the Riders did an awful job protecting both Durant and Jake Waters. The offensive line play was bad and both running backs struggled in protection as well. Giving up seven sacks and many more pressures just isn’t going to get the job done. First overall pick Josiah St. John returns to the line this week with Kennedy Estelle sliding out to right tackle for Jerriel King. Joe McKnight also returns at running back and he is a better blocker than Greg Morris and Marshaun Coprich.

Starting slow, finishing slower

A big issue for the Riders all season has been their starts and finishes. In the first quarter, the team has a point differential of minus-70, that number balloons to minus-86 in the fourth. If the Riders are to have any chance against a superior opponent they will have to get off to a better start. The Riders have not held a lead for a single second over their last two games.

First down production

One way the team get off to a better start is to get better production on first down. That could mean relying on McKnight to pick up where he left off. Getting in second and manageable situations is good for both the team and the young quarterbacks that will be playing. Last week, the Riders needed seven yards or more for a first down on second down 15 times. They only converted four of those 15 plays for first downs.

Slow down the Lions

B.C. has scored at least three offensive touchdowns in their last five games. The Riders do not have the kind of offence to spot the other team 18-24 points and give themselves a chance to win. That will be especially true this week without Durant under centre.

Hunter safety

The Riders are going with an all-American secondary for their season finale. Most of the year the team has played a Canadian at safety, but this week Tyler Hunter gets the start with Matt Webster off the roster. Royce Adams slides to halfback ahead of Tevaughn Campbell with Kacy Rodgers, Ed Gainey and Fred Bennett rounding out the last line of defence. The secondary has improved as the year went on but Jones hasn’t been able to find that impact player in the middle as of yet.

Must Read