There is hope, people.
There is HOPE.
As a jaded Rider fan, which you have every right to be, you are no doubt thinking that I might be a little crazy.
But trust me. There. Is. Hope.
Let’s look at some statistics:
- Saskatchewan had 389 yards of offence compared to Toronto’s 252;
- Saskatchewan dominated time of possession by having the ball for an extra 13 minutes;
- Darian Durant put up 310 passing yards;
- Saskatchewan had 24 first downs compared to Toronto’s 11;
- Naaman Roosevelt had his first 100+ yard receiving game; and
- No interceptions.
As for turnovers, well, we’ll get to that.
Offensively, the Riders absolutely dominated the Argos – except on the scoreboard.
As for the defence, it was a tough first quarter. Blown coverage on a kickoff (although there was apparently a missed block from behind that didn’t get called) and blown coverage by the secondary on a long TD pass by Ricky Ray. After that, though, the defence buckled down and held its own.
If you don’t believe me, here’s one last statistics for you: Ricky Ray was 13/22 for 186 yards.
Anytime you hold Ricky Ray under 200 yards, you’ve done your job.
Now for Things That Worked and Things That Didn’t.
Things That Worked:
1. Darian Durant – A rather triumphant return with 310 yards passing. (We’ll just forget that near pick six in the first quarter). He even managed to catch his own pass on one occasion!
2. Curtis Steele – While I’m not convinced he’s going to be the Riders’ every down RB, he churned out 61 hard-fought yards on the ground and had another 54 in the air for 100+ combined yards.
3. Naaman Roosevelt – He was Durant’s favourite target, with 113 yards on nine receptions. He’s more than 1/10th of the way to 1,000 yards!
4. Defence after the first half – There were a couple of great knockdowns later on in the game, and the linebacker play was a vast improvement from last year. It does help to have an *actual* middle linebacker starting.
5. Offensive line – Played a solid game, providing good protection for Darian.
Things That Didn’t:
1. Defence – A few too many plays that led to TDs or big gains. See, for example:
And this. (Why does Ricky Ray always seem to have a 15+ yard run against the Riders at least once per year?)
2. Third down gambles – Lost two, and the second was the result of a fumble that was then returned for a TD by the Argos.
3. Punt/kick returns – Not a lot of yards to be found yet.
4. Lack of finish – The offence couldn’t find the end zone when it counted.
5. Defensive line – Need a lot more push. Ricky Ray had alllllll day long to throw.
All in all, the Riders showed a lot better than some predicted. While there’s a lot to work on, and there will no doubt be some tinkering with the lineup going forward, there were a lot of positives that the Riders can take and build on.
NEXT WEEK: In Edmonton. This will be a tough match up for the Riders, as the Eskimos will be well-rested and well-prepared coming off a bye week. They’ll also be itching to get on the field and lay a beating on the Riders, as they lost a winnable game against the REDBLACKS in Week 1.