The Saskatchewan Roughriders are ready for a desperate team when they head into McMahon Stadium this weekend to face the Stampeders.
The Green and White head out west two points back of Winnipeg for first in the West Division, facing a Calgary team that sits in fourth, but Riders’ head coach Craig Dickenson says it won’t be easy for his club.
“They’ll be extremely motivated and they’re a proud organization. I looked up a stat, Calgary is 14-2 coming off a bye so they’ll be ready to play,” Dickenson told reporters.
“They’ll have a good plan, they’ll have their guys motivated and ready to play. It’ll be our toughest game to date. We’ll have to play our best game to beat them.”
It’s a little hard to believe that Calgary poses a tougher threat at 2-5 than some of Saskatchewan’s previous opponents, but Dickenson isn’t looking at the standings when he makes that claim.
“It’s difficult to judge, in my opinion, the difficulty of the schedule based on the records from previous years or even current records. I think it’s who is playing well at the time,” he explained.
“We think Calgary is going to be a tough out. I think they’re going to be ready to go. They are better than they were going into the bye, they are starting to get healthy and I feel they have a lot of motivation to play well. We are going to have to play sharp to beat them.”
Despite the records being reversed, Riders’ quarterback Cody Fajardo knows this three-game series offers their opponents a unique opportunity to gain some ground.
“They know that they gotta win games in a hurry and we know that we gotta continue to win games. 2-5 with three games against us can put them at 5-5 and I bet you that’s what they are saying in their locker room. That ties us in the standings so we have to be able to fight off every last fighting effort that they have,” Fajardo proclaimed.
“We play them three times and it’s going to be tough and I’d love to win every game but I don’t know if that’s quite possible. We’re going to go out and give it our best and hopefully we have a chance to win in the fourth quarter. It’s extremely hard to win at McMahon Stadium and so I think our guys are up for the challenge.”
Three-game series are not something football teams are used to dealing with. Saskatchewan receiver Brayden Lenius says it presents some tough challenges for the two teams.
“You can only do so much, right? You can only game plan so much. What we gotta do is stick to our basics because after the first game teams start to figure out what we kinda do,” the Canadian receiver explained.
“We have to keep ourselves in good field position and keep marching the field because we can’t have those long drives when it comes to game two and game three, we gotta hit those small plays and get those big plays, especially in the long run.”
The Roughriders (5-2) head into McMahon Stadium to face the Stampeders (2-5) on Saturday evening.