Cody Fajardo blames Riders’ bad night versus Alouettes on ‘banged up’ locker room

Photo courtesy: Scott Grant/CFLPhotoArchive.com

The Riders’ 37-13 pounding at the hands of the Montreal Alouettes on Thursday night is sure to put their fervent fan base in a tizzy, but quarterback Cody Fajardo isn’t reading too much into his team’s performance on a short week.

“That locker room is really banged up and I don’t think people know how much people were fighting through these injuries,” he told the media post-game. “They’re really banged up and I’m proud of the guys for fighting through it.”

After playing on the road in Edmonton last Saturday, Saskatchewan had just four days between games as they travelled to Montreal. While the injury report for the team’s lone practice in between was not overwhelming, that only tells part of the story.

“It’s professional football and we get paid to do it, but it’s asking your body a lot,” Fajardo explained. “You wake up and usually you should feel fresh on game day, but on short weeks like that, especially with the travel, you wake up and you’re like, ‘We have a game today’ and you’ve got to try and get yourself up and bring the energy.”

“I thought they brought the energy from the start and we did not. We’ll be better moving forward. We still have a great football team in there, don’t get me wrong. We just didn’t have a good night.”

The quarterback himself was an example of the required resilience, suffering a knee injury against the Elks that was not serious enough to place him on the injury report. It did force him to wear a brace, however, something Fajardo had previously done in college but never in his CFL career. The effects of the injury were felt in the blowout.

“You don’t feel like you’re as mobile or agile,” he acknowledged. “It was just one of those things where I wouldn’t have been able to play without the brace.”

Some added mobility would have been preferable given the situation up front, where the injury bug bit hardest. The Riders lost starting centre Dan Clark to a broken fibula late in last week’s victory over Edmonton and rookie Logan Bandy was forced to start in his place.

The result was eight sacks allowed by the Saskatchewan offensive line, but the man they failed to protect still doesn’t see that as an accurate reflection of their talent.

“We’ve got a brand new centre, it was his first start and we practiced once. We didn’t do him any justice by helping him out,” Fajardo said. “You just kind of threw him to the fire and that’s a really good front seven by Montreal that we knew was going to be challenging, but we’ll be much better. I know they’ll be a ton better next week, getting actual full practices and full reps as a full unit.”

The team now has nine days to lick their wounds before a rematch with Montreal and Fajardo has plenty. After going 17-of-28 for 191 yards and two interceptions, the face of the franchise was pulled for his own protection early in the fourth quarter.

In the midst of a painful loss, that cut deepest.

“I did not finish with the guys, that probably hurt the most,” Fajardo said post-game. “It doesn’t matter what the scoreboard is, I always want to be out there with the guys, no matter how banged up I am.”

J.C. Abbott is a University of British Columbia graduate and high school football coach. He covers the CFL, B.C. Lions, CFL Draft and the three-down league's Global initiative.