Monday, June 30, 2014

Riders pick up where they left off in November

The season opener for the Saskatchewan Roughriders was clearly the secondary item of interest for residents of the province and neighbouring Manitoba this weekend, with torrential rains delivering severe flooding to residents of much of the wide swath of land making up that region.

To those that face the many tasks ahead, we offer up our best wishes for what lays ahead and a quick repair to the impact that the severe weather has delivered to many communities in the two provinces.

With travel conditions clearly very dangerous and in some cases roads washed or flooded out, just making the trip to Mosaic Field proved to be problematic. Thus the opening day crowd of just under 20,000 was clearly not going to be in the numbers of past RiderNation experiences.

The remaining 10,000 or so season ticket holders either could not an unobstructed road o the park, or owing to distance chose to stay back in the many towns and hamlets that make up RiderNation, following the game on television or radio.

Those that did gather at Mosaic however found that the home side football squad is more than ready for the 2014 season. As the Riders picked up their winning ways right where they left off in November, with a fairly convincing 31 to 10 victory over the Hamilton Tiger Cats.

Rider Head Coach Cory Chamblin had to like what he saw from the Green and While on opening day, defensively they played shut down football, having learned Defensive coordinator Richie Hall's lessons well and leaving little for the Cats to work with on the day.

On offence, Darian Durant appeared on a mission to not let the flow from November go to waste in the new season, his impressive game management and crisp passes in less than terrific conditions showcased his stature as one of the top QBs in the league at the moment.

Key to the Saskatchewan attack was the running game of Anthony Allen, who it appears won't be running in the shadow of the departed Kory Sheets for long.

On the day Allen ran for over 150 yards and picked up two touchdowns in his starting role debut, his only flaw on the game a first quarter fumble, though losing the ball was not an unknown thing owing to the day's weather conditions.

For Hamilton's Kent Austin the season opener highlighted that he has much work ahead of him to get the Tiger Cats ready to mount any kind of defence of their Eastern championship status.

TSN as they do at the start of each game offered up the visuals of the pre game speeches from both coaches, for Austin his remarks provided a balance between working hard and having fun...

Themes which by half time we suspect were getting a bit of a test, on the hard work theme the first thirty minutes provided a challenge to the goal, the fun aspect of the day no doubt far off by the thiry minute break.

Somehow, we have a feeling that the focus of the half time speech was perhaps a little bit different in the Tiger Cat room.

The weather clearly had an impact on the play, the swirling winds, the driving rain clearly didn't provide for the perfect foundation for the best display of all that the CFL likes to deliver.

Hamilton's Zach Collaros in particular seemed to find that the elements had a major impact on his game, though a portion of his troubles on the day could be assigned to an offensive front line that did not offer
up anything near the level of protection required for him to have an effective day of it.

Such was the pressure that Collaros was under that by games end, the sack count on behalf of the Riders was at 10, a statistic that will provide for much extra work for the O line coaching staff this week.

As the scoreboard indicated, the Cats struggled through the entire game, offensive drives would sputter, while the defensive unit found itself on the field for lengthy periods of time, unable to slow down the Rider march through the day.

The only thing remotely positive for Hamilton on the day, the fact that both Toronto and Montreal looked equally inept this weekend.  All of which suggests that 2014 may be shaping up as another year where the East Division would appear to be the weakest of the league.

Though perhaps we should wait for Ottawa's debut later this week in Winnipeg. Without playing a game the RedBlacks now sit atop the East Division, with the best Points Against record in the division.

Yes, it may indeed be only one week in the books, but the trend line looks fairly solid after opening week.

With Saskatchewan's dominance of Sunday, combined with Calgary's strong showing and impressive victories by both Edmonton and Winnipeg, the division of high tempo scoring and punishing defence would appear to be found west of the Manitoba border once again.

Some reviews of Sunday's week one finale can be found below:

Regina Leader Post-- Robust debut for 2014 Riders
Regina Leader Post-- Allen shines as riders newcomers make their mark
Hamilton Spectator-- Green Riders run roughshod over sad-sack Ticats
Toronto Sun-- Saskatchewan Roughriders hammer Hamilton Tiger-Cats
CBC-- Roughriders sock it to Tiger-Cats in rain-soaked opener

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