It will be a homecoming of sorts for Corey Chamblin.
The Toronto Argonauts defensive co-ordinator returns to Regina on Saturday night for the first time since he was fired as Saskatchewan’s head coach in 2015. Chamblin spent three-plus seasons with the Riders, leading them to a Grey Cup title in 2013 before being dismissed along with GM Brendan Taman on Aug. 31, 2015 following the club’s 0-9 start.
Chamblin returned to the CFL this off-season when he joined new Argos coach Marc Trestman’s staff.
But with the Riders now playing at the new Mosaic Stadium, Chamblin isn’t expecting to feel nostalgic when he steps on to the field. In fact, he figures playing in the new facility will be an advantage for Toronto.
“The stadium is not there . . . there’s only a couple players (remaining from his tenure),” Chamblin said.
“So it’s really like a new organization, a new time – it’s just different.
“I definitely won’t feel like, ‘Oh man, this is the sideline, this is the turf and I remember this.’ ”
Chamblin often cites Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin as one of his mentors and said working with Trestman – a noted offensive guru who has CFL and NFL coaching experience – has helped give him a different perspective.
“I’m able to see it through the offensive side,” he said. “Being a defensive coach and being able to work for a head coach with his acumen and being an offensive guru like he is I see the game in a whole different light.”
Toronto (3-2) sits atop the East Division following its 27-24 home win over the Ottawa Redblacks on Monday night. Not only will the Argos be playing for the second time in five nights but they face having to suit up for three contests in 11 days.
Toronto’s defence is definitely banged up. Linebacker Bear Woods returns after missing the second half Monday following concussion protocol but defensive lineman Victor Butler and Cleyon Laing also suffered knee injuries in the game and won’t make the trip to Saskatchewan.
The loss of Butler and Laing is big considering they’ve combined for 10 sacks this year and helped anchor a defence that leads the CFL in sacks (17) and is second in fewest yards allowed (309 per game).
Saskatchewan (1-3) struggled offensively in the first half of last week’s 27-10 loss to Calgary. The Stampeders surged to a 17-0 half-time advantage as the Riders mustered just 251 yards and allowed five sacks.
“It didn’t look any prettier the second, third or fourth time we watched it,” said Chris Jones, the Riders head coach/GM.
Calgary starter Bo Levi Mitchell, the CFL’s outstanding player last year. was 16-of-28 passing for 253 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. But running back Jerome Messam, the league’s leading rusher in 2016, ran for 135 yards on 28 carries and a TD.
Veteran Riders’ quarterback Kevin Glenn completed 20-of-29 passes for 203 yards but did become just the seventh player in CFL history to pass for more than 50,000 career yards.
Jones said something the Riders did learn from facing Calgary was how its receivers were able to initiate contact with opposing defensive backs while running their pass routes in order to draw pass interference or illegal contact penalties.