Saskatchewan Roughriders defensive coordinator Jason Shivers and Winnipeg Blue Bombers quarterback Zach Collaros are familiar with each other.
Shivers was a defensive assistant with the Toronto Argonauts in 2012, the same year Collaros joined the double blue.
“Zach showed some vintage Zach from when he was in Toronto where he’s stepping up in the pocket, he’s scrambling around, he throws a touchdown pass — I’ve seen do that many times when the blitz comes off,” Shivers said.
Collaros started the season in green and white like Shivers but he was traded to Toronto and then Winnipeg. To set up the meeting in the West Final, Collaros threw for 193 yards and one touchdown at McMahon Stadium, upsetting the defending Grey Cup champions.
“We just gotta treat him like the veteran that he is and not give him some easy throws.”
It’s the first year Shivers has schemed and called the defence every down during a CFL season. The Riders allowed the least amount of points in the West Division 21.4 per outing through the 18-game regular season. The Bombers scored the most points in the West Division 28.2 per outing.
“They’re creative with their schemes, give them a lot of credit — probably the best as far as schematically with the run game. If we play our game and we box the ball and we run to the football we’ll be OK,” Shivers said.
Winnipeg led the league with 147.9 rushing yards per game (2,663 overall) and six yards per carry. Paul LaPolice called 31 run plays which produced 195 yards (6.3 per carry) and two touchdowns in the Western Semi-Final win against Calgary.
“That’s just truly a CFL offence,” Shivers said regarding the Bombers’ ability to run the football with the quarterback.
“They are able to run the ball, they do have a running quarterback — running the ball 30 times in our league is unheard of since the last couple years.”