It’s taken me a while to digest my thoughts on the recent pre-season game between the Saskatchewan Roughriders and the Calgary Stampeders.
The game itself was a late decision by the league as Calgary had been blanketed by smoke for the days leading up to the game, only to clear quickly and substantially about 90 minutes before kickoff.
I’m not sure anyone told the Riders that the game was actually taking place however.
The 37-1 score was somewhat indicative of the efforts put forward by both teams, but yet belied the game’s flow; which is why it did not seem like an incredibly one sided blowout. Maybe because it featured a goal line stand turnover and a late pick six that both went against Saskatchewan that the game seemed closer than it was. At the same time though, the Riders did little in this game to show they had any interest in winning.
The pre-season score doesn’t matter.
“I don’t even know what my pre-season record is,” said Stampeder head coach Dave Dickenson following the game (for the record, it is now 5-2).
But for the Stampeders, a different problem now emerges.
What exactly did you learn in a game where the Roughriders left their whole defence at home, save Mike Edem, and never really threw a true medium ball, let alone a deep one offensively?
The Stampeders averaged more than 15 yards on first down throughout the game. That number is staggering, but meaningless. The defence held the Riders to a single point, off a badly shanked field goal attempt late in the first half. Otherwise the only time that the Riders threatened to score was one series that ended at the goal line with a turnover on downs.
So, a meaningless game, that was rendered further meaningless by the competition in it being so incredibly subpar it means that the Stampeders will be reduced to watching how routes were run by their receivers, instead of whether or not they caught the ball.
All four QB’s that played nearly had enough time in the pocket to balance the national budget. So with that said, there were a few things I took away from Friday night’s efforts:
The heir apparent to Alex Singleton looked good in his time on the field picking up four tackles to lead the team defensively. Without Micah Johnson in the middle, and Singleton vacuuming up the tackles behind him, the Stampeders were looking at one of the largest question marks headed into camp. Calgary would like to stay national at the middle linebacker position although Riley Jones was not able to play, he is projected to be the backup to Greenwood.
Every Stampeders QB can throw the ball downfield with relative accuracy, and they did so in this one. One the receiving end were 11 pass catchers, all of which were not named Eric Rogers who was only targeted once.
Nick Arbuckle was productive in his time running the offence, and short of dramatically different results next week against the Lions, will likely take the back-up spot behind Bo Levi Mitchell. Arbuckle lamented after the game about one play that he missed.
“If that didn’t get deflected, it’s a 109 yard touchdown,” Arbuckle said referring to a 26 yard completion to Josh Huff. “We were so upset when we got back and looked at the film, but it worked out for us regardless.”
Montell Cozart will likely have the short yardage duties, although his arm offers a number of fake sneak potential.
11 total receivers caught the ball for the Stampeders, which matches the total number of incompletions thrown on 28 attempts so no one really got a chance to make an impression. Although the skittish moves of Daniel Braverman did not go unnoticed when he took a Cozart pass down the sidelines for a 56-yard gain. He broke a few tackles along the way as well.
Reggie Bagelton had a few catches early, before leaving the game in favour of less experienced players. Markeith Ambles looked good when targeted. Josh Huff and Griff Whalen also made some standout receptions.
Orimalade goes down
Folarin Orimalade was expected to be across from Cordarro Law this season but those plans will have to take a back seat for now. Orimalade injured his quad, but not his knee Dickenson said. No word yet on the severity of the issue, but if it tears all the way, 4-6 months is the typical treatment and rehab timeline.
Next up for the Stamps is a trip out to meet DeVone Claybrooks and the new-look B.C. Lions.