Saturday night looks alright for frightening!

November 4, 2016 - 1:03pm

And so the 2016 season ends with a whimper for the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

On Thursday I went to Taylor Field to take in the last practise of the 2016 Riders and they looked pretty loose, considering the season is almost over. For November it was an amazing day and I didn’t see Darian Durant out there as the Riders C or D team went through their paces.

I didn’t think much of it, mostly because the first big news was the re-signing of Naamon Roosevelt who it was said wouldn’t re-sign unless Darian Durant was back. Considering Roosevelt is from Buffalo and Hamilton and Toronto are well within driving distance, the signing was a boost the fans needed.

With the way Durant got knocked around by the BC Lions in the last Rider game at Taylor Field (I’m off to see the University of Regina Rams play there Saturday afternoon) it was perhaps not unexpected in a game that means absolutely nothing that the Riders would throw their stockpile of quarterbacks into action to see who comes back and who doesn’t.

With over 100 players that the Riders brought in this year, it’s enough to make one wonder if there has been a plan or if the idea was to absolutely demolish the team and start from scratch, something that probably has taken longer than what Rider GM/Head Coach Chris Jones anticipated. As far as back-up quarterbacks go, it bears mentioning that Jake Waters, whom the Riders picked up from Hamilton, had his collarbone broken when subjected to the lack of blocking the Riders showed last week.

So maybe it is also an act of mercy for the Riders to not subject Durant to the same onslaught.The Riders offensive line, with three Americans, has been a joke for the most part and for those who think Durant is the problem, I invite you to take a snap behind that line and see how long you’d last.

The never ending training camp continued with the Riders making some interesting moves like adding McMaster offensive lineman Chris Adeneye to their negotiation list. It’s a little unusual adding a Canadian offensive lineman, but Adeneye had been undrafted, then added to Ottawa’s negotiation list before he was dropped and the Riders added him.

He started off playing defensive line, but switched over to offensive line in university which makes him an interesting project at 6’5” 299 lbs. If you notice a pattern with Chris Jones and Canadians, he looks for the physical dimensions and then looks to coach them into being the players he imagines they could be.

The Riders also released Tommy Streater, the receiver they got in the trade with Hamilton for Justin Cappiciotti, offensive lineman Tre’Von Armstead, offensive lineman Aundrey Walker and Lawrence Walker. It’s part of the clearing of the decks as the Rider season winds down and we wait to see what lies in store for next year.

So with the final weekend, there are some games that mean something and some roster moves that are interesting, so let’s see if I can recover from my 1-3 record last week.

Winnipeg is at Ottawa and Ottawa is not starting Henry Burris since they have clinched first in the east. The Redblacks will unveil Brock Jensen and Dan O’Brien at quarterback as they attempt to get through this game with not major injuries before the eastern final.

Winnipeg won’t be resting anyone because they have something to play for which is both good and bad because they will continue to roll with whatever momentum they have but bad if they lose people to injury. However, this is a game that means something to Winnipeg so that is a risk Mike O’Shea will be willing to take.

If Burris is not playing, you would think that there would be a big advantage to Winnipeg, but having seen Brock Jensen quarterback Ottawa when they were in town to play the Riders, he did a not bad job and while Ottawa may surprise, I will go with Winnipeg to win 27-26.

On Saturday there is a triple header starting with Montreal at Hamilton and while this game means nothing in the standings, it has implications beyond the end of the game. Hamilton will be looking to get things in place for their eastern semi-final with some consistency on offense and defense while Montreal will be playing for their jobs next year.

Depending on how things shake out, it could be the end for players like John Bowman and Montreal’s defense has demonstrated in the last two weeks it is a very proud unit and their play has raised the stock of defensive coordinator Noel Thorpe.

I see another close game, because depending on the score, Hamilton may do some free style substitutions to avoid injuries to starters while Montreal attempts to close its year with a win in an effort to avoid handing the BC Lions the first overall pick in the 2017 CFL Draft. Montreal’s defense makes this a close game, but there should be enough in Hamilton’s tank to squeak out a 25-24 win.

Then Toronto goes to Edmonton is some sort of act of ritual suicide as the Argos popped the wheels out of their season and showed how not to run a Grey Cup ticket campaign. It may or may not be Scott Milanovich’s last season, or Ricky Ray’s last game with the Argos, but Milanovich’s reputation as a quarterback whisperer has been dented by how the Argos have stuck to Ray despite his injury history and failure to use him like BC has used Travis Lulay, an experienced back up who can step in when the occasion demands it.

That being said, Deadmonton should have an idea where it stands by kickoff depending on the results of the Winnipeg Ottawa game. If Deadmonton was hoping for help in the BC –Sask game, the news that Darian Durant will not be going out to BC pretty well concedes the game to BC, even with the Riders Swiss cheese offensive line and lacklustre defense.

So while Jason Maas does some sort of unicycle routine while his wife works overtime selling burgers to help Maas pay his fines to the CFL head office, Deadmonton will put in the effort, thinking in a crazy world, maybe the Saskatchewan Roughriders could beat the BC Lions. I am looking forward to Jason Maas continuing his prima donna routine, but hope it pays off with an explosion in a playoff game, like next week. In the meantime Deadmonton wins 30-24.

Finally we have the Riders visiting BC in a game that may or may not have some meaning to the Lions depending on what happened earlier. If Winnipeg wins, then BC is motivated to keep their starters in and push for a quick and early resolution to the game to ensure it hosts the Western Semi-Final. If Ottawa wins, the pressure is off the Lions and there is the window the Riders may be looking for, unless their intent is to evaluate their players to see who gets invites to training camp next year. Something tells me that is what the Riders are planning so BC 29-22 over the Riders.

 

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