To quote friend of the 3Down Green Cast on Twitter Dave Stadnek, the Riders never win in pre-season anyway.
Pre-season is basically what this game in Hamilton on Saturday felt like after the Ticats clinched second place in the East, giving them the right to host the East semi-final next week against the Montreal Alouettes due to the Als loss on Friday night.
Would this game have had a little more spice had Montreal not blown a lead to the Ottawa Redblacks? Hard to say. The Riders came into the game resting many players and it showed.
The question now is whether it’s a move that will pay off for the Green and White? Only time will tell.
Here’s the good, the bad, and the dumb of the Riders 24-3 loss to the Ticats
Ok sorry, I lied. I’m adding another section this week.
Over the next few days, there’s probably going to be a lot of talk about how this game might affect the Riders next week. They certainly looked indifferent for the most part, especially on defence. Could that bleed into the playoffs? I don’t know.
While I certainly could be wrong, I’m not one who really subscribes to the theory of momentum throughout the season. Each week is its own thing and what happened or didn’t happen the week before has no bearing on the next game.
Now, this doesn’t mean that I think the Riders are going to be just fine against the Calgary Stampeders. They will certainly have their challenges, but it won’t be because of anything that happened this week.
There isn’t a whole lot to say here given how laissez-faire the game was, but there were a few things that stood out for the Riders.
On defence, the defensive line continued to flex their muscles against an offence that was playing most of its starters in the first half. Outside of the usual suspects, one player who stood out was starting strong-side linebacker Rolan Milligan. The former University of Toledo Rocket picked up five defensive tackles, one special teams tackle and a sack in his CFL debut. Could he be another find on defence for general manager Jeremy O’Day? Maybe.
The only time the offence showed much life was the brief period where Mason Fine was in at quarterback for the Riders. The former member of the North Texas Mean Green went five-for-nine for 64 yards. 45 of those yards came when he connected deep with Justin McInnis. Fine also completed four straight passes at one point to former Regina Ram Mitchell Picton.
Unfortunately for the Riders, the bad was stuff we’ve talked about a number of times this season.
Offensively, it was hard to get much of anything going, mostly due to the revolving door in front of starting quarterback Isaac Harker. So, with that in mind, I’m not going to comment too much on Harker’s game, but it wasn’t as positive as it was previous times we’ve seen him.
The real issue is that the depth on the offensive line is quite concerning. Without centre Dan Clark, the unit didn’t give the offence much a chance. While the starting unit is hardly the best in the league, the depth behind it is not only concerning should injuries pile up in the playoffs, but also worrisome for the team heading into next year.
The other major problem was discipline. The Riders took a number of dumb penalties that would almost certainly haunt you in the playoffs. Those penalties ranged from Makana Henry hitting Jeremiah Masoli after the whistle — whether he knew it was after the whistle or not — to Garrett Marino slamming down the runner after the whistle blew about 12 times. You just can’t be taking those kinds of penalties.
They also were flagged a number of times for the little things like procedure and offside, penalties that actually drive coaches nuts and can definitely change a game just as much.
Next week, all penalties will be bad ones and the Riders will have to find that balance of playing with an edge while not crossing the line.
Sadly, not a whole lot of dumb or weirdly entertaining stuff happened in this game. Kind of like a preseason game.
So, I’ll give a shoutout to TSN’s Rod Smith and Duane Forde who had some fun with the Western Mustangs win over the Queen’s Golden Gaels in the Yates Cup. As we all know, Forde is a former Mustang, and Smith went to Queen’s. They had some fun at Smith’s expense in the first quarter as Forde wore a Mustangs sweater and subtly but not so subtly bragged about his team’s big win over Smith’s.
Forde did admit he had a Queen’s coloured tie should the Gael have won. When he said that, it made me wish the Kingston team would have won. That would have been an even more fun bit.