First of all screw the whole capitalization things. I will not surrender to Ottawa's grammatical whims. The Riders venture East to Ottawa for the first time since 2005. For the record, in the 4 season of the Renegades, the Riders went 2-2 in Ottawa. The Argo game does not catagorically say the Riders are back. The defense looeked great but the Toronto offense was depleted. The offense put up 37 points but still struggled ot move the ball to the air at times. However it was a good start and this is a good chance for the Riders to get on a roll versus an expansion team.
Probable starters: Riders - Durant, RedBlacks - Burris. That was a strange game to try and evaluate Darian. He got off to a rough start with 0 passing yards in 3 attempts. Then he got hot in the 2nd quarter. THe Rider then pretty much shut down the passing game in the 2nd half with the big lead. Darian hasn't been sharp as we saw late last season, but you can't put all the struggles on him. Some poeple call it excuses when referring to getting used to new receivers. Ricky Ray said that since he needs to make sure his new receivers are running to the right spot vs just trusting they will be there like his vets, he would hold the ball longer. This leads to sacks etc. If it's good enough for Ray, it's good enough for me. Hank has been doing about as well as he can with the offense talent he has around him. Very un-Hank like that he has only thrown one pick this year. Edge Riders
Probable starters: Riders - Ford, RedBlacks - Walker. For the first time since Game 2, I feel confident in who the Rider starting running back will be. I'll give Ford a pass for his performance on Saturday. He ran inside and out and also caught a few balls out of the backfield. As said by the coaches and seend by some of you, he needs to get better in his pass protection. Since we are talking about running backs, let's give some props to some unsong heroes. Moore and Messam made some really good blocks to spring Ford on his runs. Walker has been a workhorse for Ottawa as their running back and is their third leading receiver. Look for that load ti increase with Kierre Johnson out. Walker has great straight line speed and if he gets a clear path, forget about it. But I have never been a big fan of his abilities to break tackles and get yards in a crowd. It's tempting to give Ford the edge but he's only played one game. Even
Probable starters: Riders - T.Smith, Bagg, Getzlaf, Swain, Schilens, - RedBlacks - Henry, Jackson, Collins, Miles, Smith Chris Getzlaf is a welcome return for the Riders. Not only does Darian get his favorite 2nd down receiver back, it moves everyone else back a spot. Now the other slots like Swain will see weaker coverage as teams look at Getz. It's going to open things up. Quick edit here. Depalma is off the roster and Ryan Smith is on despite us hearing that Smith wasn't ready. I hope he can be effective catching the ball and isn't just on because DePalma has an injury. Marcus Henry will be Ottawa's good to guy. They will be missing Kierre Johnson who is their deep threat and guy who they like to get the ball to quick and let run as well. There are a few other familiar names here like Matt Carter and Paris Jackson, but nothing that should scare our secondary. Jamill Smith and Wallace (I can see for) Miles are unknown to me. Edge Riders
Probable starters: Riders - T - Fulton, Heenan, G - LaBatte, Best, C - Picard, RedBlacks - T - McCuller, MacMillan, G - Albriight, Deane, C - Gott. The good news for the Riders last week was that we found out we have a capable replacement for Picard with the way Dan Clark played. The bad news is Clark is knicked so Cory Watman is first of the bench this week. That game was more what we have come to expect from our offensive line. The two familiar names to me on the Ottawa line are the ex-Stamps, Gott and Deane. Not surprisingly for an expansion team, their line is going through some growing pains. Edge Riders
Probable starters: Riders - DE - Chick, Foley, DT - George, Walker, RedBlacks - DE - Laing, Capicaiotti, DT- Shologan, Williams. I will put Chick and Foley up against any other pair of ends in the league. In fact, I will put Chick up against any DE in the league right now, as shown by his Player of the Month award. When George plays possessed like he did last week, this line is reall formidable. We didn't see much of Keith Shologan in the pre-season game but we will tomorrow, and Josh Evans. "Shols" will be a load to handle. Brandon Laing is solid at one end but Ottawa has been hit by injuries at the other spot with McCoy and Phillips out. Edge Riders
Probable starters: Riders - MLB - Peters, OLB - Brown, Hurl, RedBlacks - MLB - Brown, OLB - Hill, Simmons. That was the best game by our linebackers so far this year, particularly Sam Hurl who was rewarded by being named Canadian of the Week. Brian Peters's tackling, or lack thereof is a big concern. I counted a minimum two players where he completely whiffed on a one on one situation. He needs to pick it up with Kilgore getting close to returning. TJ Hill is the only Ottawa linebacker who I have seen much of. He, along with Weldon Brown would be the two best linebackers in this game. Brown and Simmons were backups before this year. Jason Pottinger might see some action. Even
Probable starters: Riders - CB - Williams, Jackson, HB - Maze, Harris, S - Brackenridge, RedBlacks - CB - Williams, Jones, HB - Thompson, Gavins, S - Fraser. This looks like the biggest mismatch when comparing the two teams. Jovon Johnson was the best player the RedBlacks had in the secondary and he's out. Seth Williams is the only other veteran at the cover spots. I didn't think much of Eric Fraser at safety in Calgary and am not changing my mind now. Except for one big breakdown by Macho Harris, the Rider secondary played a good game last week. I thought Rod Williams had a areally good game but got lost due to Backenridge being fantastic. Edge Riders
Probable staters: Riders - Jackson, R. Smith, RedBlacks - Smith, Maypray. Based on pre-season, Marshay Green and our punt returns might be the biggest disappointment of the season so far. Green didn't get a lot of good blocking but he's got noone else to blame for his inability to catch balls on the fly and and ball security. I am thinking that Jackson will get most of the work with R. Smith's bad hand. I had thought DePalma would be our second returner. Jallill Smith is the guy who took that punt back against us a long way in the pre-season. Ottawa's punt return numbers are just terrible, but we've been pretty spotty too. Even
Probable starters: Riders - Milo, RedBlacks - Hopefully Chris Milo is getting back on track hitting his last 3. That still only gets him to 70%. Maher has done a good job for Ottawa since they picked him up from Winnipeg, hitting 12 of 14. Edge RedBlacks
Probable staters> Riders - Bartel, RedBlacks - Maher. Bartel caused some Jamie Boreham flashbacks with his running punts. I swear he got more hang time on some of those than his regular punts. Really hard to judge the punters so I am just going to have to go by total and net average. Maher is ahead on both. Edge RedBlacks
When the Riders have the ball
The Riders are first in the CFL in average gain per rush. Ottawa is last (barely) in average given up per rush. It does not take much to connect those dots and figure that the Riders will look to establish the running game. A rarity for us, the same running back starting two straight games! I am expecting Ford to get the ball a lot. If the running game is working, Allen might get some looks as well. Last week we saw more runs with the fullback on the field than I have seen the Riders use since....well quite honestly since Chris Szarka played. I expect to see more of that as well. Ottawa is injured up front as well so they might be undermanned trying to stop the run. Look for the matchup of former Rider Keith Shologan vs the interior of our offensive line. A lot of people thought Shols was a big part of our run defense in recent years, eating up blocks and clogging up the middle. Any inside runs will require the Riders to win that battle.
If Ottawa is selling out the stop the run early or is forced to move guys up because the Riders are moving it successfully, then the play action can work. One thing we have not seen much of is the read option. That's a staple play for most CFL teams so I find it odd. One play last year that was really successful for us was bringing Chris Getzlaf across the formation and then having Darian hit him in the flat. I hope to see that again.
Had he been heallthy I would have said the Riders need to avoid Jovon Johnson when they throw the ball, because he is the one guy who is a ball hawk and could cause damage in the Ottawa secondary. With him injured, I don't see anyone to avoid. Ottawa's halfbacks are 5' 8' and 5' 10". We can get a size mismatch there. With Johnson out, the only veteran to avoid is TJ Hill at linebacker. He had an interception against the Riders in the pre-season, although it was against Weber.
When the RougeNoir have the ball
Hey Ottawa wants to make an effort to involve the Francophone community in their fan base so I figured I would pitch in. I expect Ottawa to try and establish Walker and make him a workhouse. Although the Riders did a good job against the run last week, that appears to be the place to attack this defense. I expect Walker to get the ball a lot, not just out of the backfield, but also catching passes. I think we have had issues covering backs in the passing game as well as the run game. I also expect play action to Walker and have one of the Ottawa fullbacks, Lavoie or Delahunt release into the flat. Our linebackers are going to have to be assignment sound in not falling for fakes and then making the tackle when they get these guys in the open field. Walker is not a guy who seems to very effective getting yards after contact or making moves in a confined space. But if we give him room he has great straight line speed and will take one a long way. Another reason to stay disciplined on D is that Burris will use the read option. If you get caught inside, he stil has the wheels to make you pay and turn those into 10-20 yard gains. Our linebackers and our ends have to stay at home. I think Chick and Foley are up for the challenge. I wouldn't mind seeing them get a good lick or two in if Hank tries to turn it upfield.
When Hank throws, I expect Marcus Henry to be his main receiver. He's a big target and has made some spectacular catches. As I mentioned earlier, with no Kierre Johnson, Smith and Miles will have to be the deep threats. Carter and Jackson are veterans who are reliable for clutch cathes. Honestly though, our secondary should be able to control them. With a couple of inexperienced tackles, the Riders have a nice matchup vs the strength of our defensive line. I wonder if we will see a lot of the Ottawa fullbacks in a 2 TE set to help block or if they use a lot of fakes and misdirection to slow our ends down.
The Riders' defense came out with all kinds of emotion last week and were fired up from the first play last week. That's easier at home with your home fans helping provide the atmosphere and energy. We need our guys to come out with that same emotion on the road this week. That's more of a challenge. If they come out in the same mindset as last week, we should be in good shape.
The biggest nightmare for an expanstion team to deal with is injuries due to their lack of depth. Ottawa has some decent starters with CFL experience to be competitive. Howoever, the injury bug has hit them in the last week and they are missing some key guys. There really is no excuse for the Riders to not win this game. I am not saying Ottawa is awful and we just need to show up on time to win. But if the Riders show up to play and play their A game, they should win. By A game I mean do not give up easy points off turnovers, or special teams. Don't give Ottawa second chances with turnovers or blown tackles and coverages. That crowd is very enthusiastic and they feed off that. The last thing the Rider need is to have good things happen to Ottawa early and get that place rocking. A start like last week would be ideal. This is a critical game to win. The next game in Winnipeg vs the 5-1 Bombers on a short week wil lbe a huge challenge. We need to go into that game 3-2 vs 2-3 and staring 2-4 in the face. Let's see a solid performance.
My score: Roughriders 27 RedBlacks 13
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