The good, the bad, and the dumb of the Riders’ 25-12 preseason win over Winnipeg

Photo courtesy: Saskatchewan Roughriders

History was made on Monday afternoon at Mosaic Stadium as the Saskatchewan Roughriders played the earliest home game in their century-long history.

It seems the early start was no problem for the home team as they cruised to a 25-12 win over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

By the end of the season, this game won’t even be a footnote on the year that was, given that it was a preseason game that meant less than nothing in the standings. Even so, this was a good chance to get a first look at Saskatchewan’s revamped roster.

For the first time in 2024, here’s the good, the bad, and the dumb of the Riders’ first preseason game of the year.

The good

With a whole new coaching staff and a new-look roster, there are plenty of questions surrounding this year’s edition of the Riders. The first preseason game rarely answers many questions and sometimes creates more, which is what happened to the quarterback situation behind starter Trevor Harris.

Presumed backup Mason Fine entered the game in the first quarter but didn’t even attempt a pass before exiting a few plays later. Six-year veteran Antonio Pipkin made his expected appearance but also appeared to get banged up after a short stint in the second quarter.

Then came Shea Patterson. The former Michigan Wolverine looked comfortable on the field, completing the Riders’ only passing touchdown to Ajou Ajou. He also completed a gorgeous 43-yard touch pass to KeeSean Johnson that got wiped out by an offside penalty. The CFL had Patterson going three-for-three for 52 yards, but it’s tough to say whether or not that’s accurate given the league’s well-documented stats woes.

Jack Coan, a newcomer out of Notre Dame, also looked solid as he completed six-of-eight pass attempts for 40 yards.

Several heads in Saskatchewan turned when the Riders opted to re-sign Fine, who has generally lived up to his name but not much more through three seasons in Regina.

Will we see more of Fine next week? It seems likely, assuming he’s healthy. If we do, he might be under a little more pressure than we thought even just a few days ago.

The bad

Given that this was a preseason game, it’s hard to get too worried about anything. If anything, the final score ended up flattering the Bombers thanks to a late touchdown in garbage time.

I wouldn’t read too much into that either way about either team.

One thing to keep an eye on, however, could be the status of kicker Brett Lauther. A slow start seems to be the norm for the team’s veteran kicker, as he tends to heat up as the season goes along.

With that said, any time a kicker misses more than once in a game, it’s worth keeping an eye on. The native of Truro, N.S. went three-for-five on field goals for the night, missing from distances of 53 and 48 yards, and also pushed a convert attempt wide.

Veteran Regina Leader-Post and CJME reporter Darrell Davis saw Lauther slip on a practice kick in the second half and he was spotted moving a little gingerly following the incident.

Considering he went out for his next attempt, Lauther seems to be OK.

If I had to put money on it, I’d bet Lauther bounces back and is his usual self throughout the season, though this clearly wasn’t the start he was hoping for.

The dumb

There have been some changes to the Riders’ in-game presentation this year, including an overhaul of sponsored games during media timeouts.

There was a game modeled after the game show ‘The Price is Right’ called ‘The Stats is Right’ in which fans have to guess the answer to a stats-related question without going over. It seemed like a hit, standing out as perhaps the crowd favourite.

Another game is called ‘Ace Rush’ in which three fans have to pick which giant playing card has a picture of Gainer the Gopher on it. The catch? Gainer is also playing the game and can win. If one of the fans successfully guesses the correct card, they win some cash to spend at the local casino.

Perhaps it was fitting the first time we saw this game played, Gainer won by getting the last remaining card that ended up having his picture on it. As the old saying goes, the house always wins.

Joel Gasson is a Regina-based sports writer, broadcaster and football fanatic. He is also a beer aficionado.