Friday, November 08, 2013

Friday Morning 'Rider Blogging

Obviously the final two games of the 2013 regular season didn't go the Saskatchewwn Roughriders' way. But they did seem to offer a clear indication what the 'Riders will need to do in order to advance in the playoffs.

For the 'Riders' defence, the issue the last couple of weeks seems to have been largely one of timing. In the first half against Calgary, the defensive line was able to anticipate many of the Stampeders' plans (particularly in reaching Kevin Glenn just as he was deciding on a course of action), resulting in four fumbles which gave Saskatchewan an early advantage. But when Drew Tate took control, the 'Riders had to contend with a more mobile quarterback in the absence of the same amount of preparation to anticipate his habits - and Tate was able to keep the 'Riders off balance just enough to pull out the win.

Likewise, while Mike Reilly managed to scramble his way into field goal range on a couple of first-half drives, the Eskimos' offence scored its lone touchdown with third-stringer Jonathan Crompton at the controls.

All of which sets up a rather noteworthy test against the Lions. Saskatchewan dominated its two previous previous matchups with Thomas DeMarco and Buck Pierce at the helm, but the Lions now have Travis Lulay back in the lineup. And it's worth watching whether any any variations from his usual timing actually work to the Lions' advantage.

On the offensive side of the ball, the 'Riders' passing game was once again iffy in both games to close out the regular season. But the promise of a healthy offensive line offers reason for hope the 'Riders' ruchin gattack can return to its early-season form - particularly as Chris Garrett's strong performance at running back against Edmonton coincided with the return of Chris Best.

If the defence and the running game can live up to the standards they've set earlier this season, then Darian Durant should be able to play it safe through the air - a major plus with one of his favourite targets at something less than full strength. But it's far from clear whether the 'Riders can keep up if they're forced into a shootout - and now isn't the time for that kind of guesswork.

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