Stampeders beat injury bug (and the Riders)

Coming into the Stampeders game against the Riders, the story line was all about who was missing.

The Stamps had suffered some substantial injuries, including putting franchise quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell on the six-game injured list confirming what we had all been thinking all week: Nick Arbuckle would be at the helm for the defending Grey Cup champions.

Putting aside the changes during the off-season, this week saw the Stamps insert six new bodies into the lineup, and take seven names out. Mitchell coming out made for that difference as there wasn’t a QB to put on the roster at that time.

The injury bug continued to feast on the Stampeders as linebacker Riley Jones and receiver Josh Huff were both forced from the game early.

Yet, the Stampeders did what they do better than anyone in the league. They brought the next man up, inserted them into the lineup, and dominated the game in all three phases, winning 37-10.

Early chemistry shows

Nick Arbuckle hit Michael Klukas twice on the first drive which makes sense given his comments about him last week following Klukas` impact on the onside kick. He talked about how the two of them would be out at 6 a.m. practicing together all last season while waiting for their opportunity. Klukas caught two passes on the first drive, including a toe tapper on the 13-yard line. Two plays later, the Stamps would be in the end zone. 

“I know he is seeing exactly what I’m seeing with coverages and when he has read routes he is going to do the right thing and be where I want him to be…” Arbuckle said of Klukas. “He is so fast, he’s a playmaker; that’s why he went from the practice roster to a Week 1 starter.”

Poise under pressure

The first drive TD was the beginning of an accurate but unspectacular day for Arbuckle who only had three incompletions going 19-of-22 for 262 yards and two TD’s. When he did throw the long ball, Arbuckle showed great touch on the ball. A 76-yard connection with Reggie Bagelton put the game away for the Stamps in the fourth quarter.

Considering that the Riders D-line is, on paper, the most terrifying front four in the league, Arbuckle remained calm, set his feet and found his receivers. No Bo? No problem.

Forgot about Tre?

Not sure why QB’s think targeting a receiver that is covered by Tre Roberson is a great choice as he made yet another pair of interceptions including a pick-six early in the fourth quarter. Make that five picks on the year for the guy who should have been the Rookie of the Year from the West last season. Last year only eight players had four or more interceptions, five players tied for the league lead with five. He also had a pick-six wiped out against the Lions last week due to penalty.

“It’s year two, and offences gonna keep running what they been running and I watch film,” Roberson said. Roberson and his wife are expecting a new addition into the family in the very near future. Fortunately for the Stampeders their next game is at home against the Argos, so Roberson may still be available. Historically, Dave Dickenson has encouraged players to be home for the birth of children, regardless of the football situation.

Sack attack

After a few weeks where the defensive line was depleted due to injury through the course of the game, the Stampeders managed to keep them all healthy until the end of the game. They also piled on four QB sacks against Cody Fajardo and added another on Issac Harker in the fourth quarter. Lots of those seemed like coverage sacks however as Fajardo was scanning downfield and couldn’t find anyone to throw to.

Ka’Deem gets carries

Rookie running back (and NFL vet) Ka’Deem Carey certainly got the job done against the Riders defense piling up 88 all purpose yards, 63 yards on 13 carries and 25 on receptions including a 23-yard scamper in the first half on a second and 20 screen pass that included a quick-as-lightning escape from a Rider defender. Looked very impressive in his CFL debut. Terry Williams was also effective garnering 59 yards on five carries with a big 28 yarder to set up a Stamps TD in the third.

The production from the run game was a far cry from the first two games where the Stamps struggled to gain substantial yards on the ground.

Sopik stands out

Fraser Sopik was a third round draft pick this year and even on draft day, all the talk was about how he might one day become a great special teamer. Undersized at linebacker at five-foot-11 and 195 pounds, Sopik is making an impression on the Stamps coaching staff. He also made an impression on Cody Fajardo in the third quarter sacking the Riders QB for a 10-yard loss.

Wynton McManis saw his knee swell up on the plane ride to Regina and Riley Jones was lost to injury early which led to Sopik getting a number of reps at linebacker in this game.

Coach Dave Dickenson had some praise for the rookie following the game in which Sopik gathered in four tackles. “The kid’s done nothing but play football…he’s a playmaker. He’s not scared. What he sees, he fires his gun and he goes for it,” Dickenson said. “We are very happy with where we got him in the draft.”

Y U no show up?

It has to be concerning in Regina that there were less than 30,000 tickets sold for a game against Calgary on a Saturday where rain threatened in the afternoon, but was well gone by kick-off. If the Stamps aren’t enough to crack that barrier, what is it going to be like when the Alouettes come to town?

Gainer watch

Gainer went away from the green eyes that everyone felt were terrifying and went to an all-black iris for the eyes. Still weird to see him that happy when the Riders are trailing by 20 in the fourth quarter though. The last mascot seemed to grasp that mood perfectly.

Next up for the Stamps is a tough test against the Ticats on Saturday, who will likely be pretty growly after dropping a game to the Alouettes last week.

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