Normally I never give up on a game, but when Ottawa answered the Riders' third quarter TD with one of their own to go up 29-17, I really thought it wasn't meant to be on Sunday. With everything that did go wrong on Sunday, a win is a win, and it was nice to escape with one. It's going to get a lot tougher in this last third of the season with 5 games against Calgary and Edmonton. The team holds his destiny in it's hands starting this Friday. Sorry folks, totally ran out of time to finish this one
Probable starters: Riders - Sunseri, Eskimos - Reilly. Outside of one series, things were not looking good for Tino Sunseri's Rider career. I didn't realize until after the game and heard the stats what a good 2nd half and OT he had. We saw improvement from the previous game in his decisiveness and finding secondary options when the first read was not there. Yes, there is a way to go, but I liked the improvement. Mike Reilly is one of those "whatever it takes" QBs. He takes some unnecessary hits when he runs, and he will throw up some picks. But he's a big play QB. Edge Esks
Probable starters: Riders - Ford/ Allen / Messam, Eskimos - White. Kudos to Ottawa on limiting our running game to its lowest total in a while. Even in the terrible game in Hamilton, we had a better running attack. Very odd that Messam did not see the ball once in the game. Wihite is listed as the starter for the Esks, but I've been impressed by Kendial Lawrence too. He's averaging over 6 yards a carry and has hit some big ones. Although he is listed as a slot with Guyton out. Edge Riders
Probable starters: Riders - T. Smith, Bagg, Dressler, Swain (Schilens), Getzlaf, Eskimos - Foster, Coehoorn, Bowman, Stamps, Lawrence. One thing that didn't catch attention until I watched the game again. On the game tying drive, Sunseri really spread it out. After thinking that he didn't have that chemistry with Getzlaf, he went to him a lot down the stretch. Bowman stil has to be frustrating for the fans of whoever he played for. He's reading the league yet still drops the ball a lot and fumbles as well. The guy has lots of talent though. Fred Stamps's numbers are down due to injury. I am not sure what to make of Schilens being ahead of Swain on the depth chart. Edge Esks
Probable starters: Riders - T - Fulton, Heenan, G - Labatte, Clark, C - Picard, Eskimos - T- Capers, Batiste, G - Rottier, O'Donnell, C - Ramsay. For those of you keeping track, two more games until we get Chris Best back. Fulton should be back this week after missing last week with the flu. I thought Tino had time to throw last week so Adcock must have done a good job in pass protection. But maybe we lost something in our run blocking without Fulton. The Esks line is better than last year, but Reilly still takes a lot of hits when he drops back. Edge Riders
Probable starters: Riders - E - Chick, Foley, T - George, Guyton, Eskimos - E- Willis, Sheffield, T - Sewell, Steele. With Walker out last week, Geroge stepped up and was dominant inside. These are the two best defensivel lines in the league, with only Hamilton being able to also enter the conversation. Odell Willis has had a great year for the Esks. This might be wishful thinking, but this is usually the time he starts to tail off. Sewell is a force inside. These are the two best teams at getting to the QB and account for the 3 leading sackers in the league, and 5 of the top 9. Edge Riders
Probable starters: Riders - MLB - Kilgore, OLB - Peters, Harris, Eskimos - MLB - Curran, OLB - McCoil, Lawrence. I was excited for Kilgore this year based on what the coaches said and a few plays I saw in the first pre-season game. But since he came back, I have to wonder if he's giving us more than what Sam Hurl could in that spot and use an import elsewhere. I really don't care if he's not laying big hits on people, but he just doesn't seem to make enough tackles, and has trouble in pass coverage. The Eskimo linebackers got even better with Sherritt back now and being worked into the lineup. Edge Eskimos
Probable starters: Riders - CB - Williams, Jackson, HB - Maze, Brown, S - Brackenridge Eskimos - CB - Watkins, Foster, HB - Grymes, Young, S - Rwabukamba. The Eskimos are a big phsyical, ball-hawking secondary, led by Patrick Watkins. This is an area where I thaink the Riders haven't played up to their usual standards in recent weeks. Maybe this is more due to our linebackers, but it seems like we are giving up more in the middle in slant and hook routes. Maybe it was unfair to expect our guys to continue to play at the level they were at. Slight Edge Riders
Probable starters: Riders - Dressler, Jackson, Eskimos - Guyton. Thomas. We've been pretty hard on our special teams, and with good reaosn when you look at the coverage issues. But what has gotten lost is that our return game has been very good. Of course Jackson and Dressler deserve a tonne of credit, but on their big returns they have gotten some great blocks from their teammates. Reemmber when we went years without a return TD? We've had 3 already this year and numerous other big ones. Edge Riders
Probable starters: Riders - Milo, Eskimos - O'Neill. If we weren't concerned enough about our placekicking due to Milo, now we have another thing to worry about: the long snaps. Does anyone remember Peters getting shaken up in the thrid quarter? The bad snaps happeend after that. Is thsi is a risk for us having a starting linebackers being our long snapper? With Chad Remple now here, this may not be an issue. O'Neill has an 83% average but 5/6 is not a great sample size. Even
Probable starers: Riders - Milo, Eskimos - O'Neill. Ok, if Milo is going to go good game, bad game in his punting, that does not bode well for this week. He had a good game, and got a great break with that long one rolling out on the one. One thing that is bothering me in recent weeks. Even when our punter puts the ball between the numbers and sidelines, the returner is finding a way to get more than 10 yards. Edge Esks
When the Riders have the ball
The Esks have a very stout front 4. They are going to be tough to run on up the middle. A big part of the Rider success will depend on our interior line controlling the Eskimo tackles. A lot of focus will be on Dan Clark for this. We need him to have a solid game. Although establishing the run will be important, I think the Riders need to mix it up on first down and not just go run 80% or so of the time. THe Esks are going to key on the run and second and long in this game will be trouble. Chris Jones is very good at throwing all kinds of looks on D. He'll mix it up with blitzes and then fake blitzes and drop guys into coverage hoping for a pick. I think we need to mix in some play action and quick passes out the backs or hitches to the receivers to keep the Esks honest and get in second and managable. I like the idea of rolling Sunseri out to keep him away from that inside pass rush. Our tackles also need to do a good job of blocking Odell Willis. One strategy might be to run right at Willis to slow down his pass rush.
I know we don't want Tino to be tentative, but he and the offense in general need to protect the football. This Eskimo team has feasted on turnovers and lead the league in defensive TDs.
When the Eskimos have the ball
I am mildly concerned about our defense the last couple of weeks. As I said maybe it was unfair to expect them to play as well as they did in August, but we have seen more yardage and points. We need to get better shutting things down in that 5-10 yard zone. It seems like that is where teams are having a lot of success recently. A couple of things that come to mind with the Eskimo offense. First of all, our pass rush needs to be disciplined. Mike Reilly loves to take off and run. QBs have had success scarmbling in recent weeks, and the Riders need to stop that and keep Reilly in the pocket. Not that he isn't a good pocket passer, but it will be a long night if he's a dual threat.
Steve McAdoo does a good job of getting the most out of his team's speed. He makes quick bubble throws to the receivers and let them run. The Riders won't have to worry about Guyton's speed on that play, but the Esks will use those plays to Bowman and their backs too. They also uses quick pitches and misdirection in the run game to get their backs room. The Riders have to stay disciplined and not get caught by those misdirection plays. Maz.e, Brown, and Harris have to win the battle with Bowman and Stamps
The Eskmos have been tough at home with their only losses coming to Calgary. Their defense in particular has been very good at home and opportunistic with their takeaways. I just don't see the Riders being able to go into that hostile environment with an inexperienced QB and pulling out the win. If Tino can pull this one off, I will feel like we have a great shot at second if not first. The saving grace if the team does not pull it off Friday is that we have the Esks twice at home to try and win the season series. If the Riders are to win this game, it's going to be by winning the turnover battle, and being opportunistic - getting points off those turnovers and maybe another special teams return.
My score: Eskimos 24 Roughriders 16
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