CFL team’s season could go in many directions
|QB Brandon Bridge (#16) calls a play in the huddle for the Roughriders.|
The Roughriders were at their best on the defensive side of the ball. They limited the powerful Stampeders offence to just 242 total yards for the entire game.
|Terry Williams, left, celebrates a punt return TD with Richard Sindani.|
Defensive lineman Tobi Antigha, who stands 6-foot-2 and weighs 223 pounds, proved he is a heck of an athlete. Dropping into pass coverage, he collected his second interception of the season in the second quarter of Saturday’s game. This time, he returned the ball back 52 yards to the end zone for a pick-six.
On defence, a myriad of players proved they can continually get the job done like Samuel Eguavoen, Ed Gainey, Mike Edem, Eddie Steele, Zach Evans, Jovon Johnson and Willie Jefferson. Duron Carter, who is normally a receiver on offence, is improving each game since being inserted at defensive back full time in Week 2.
|Eric Rogers (#15) reacts to scoring a touchdown for the Stampeders.|
The Roughriders were at their worst in the first quarter of Saturday’s game making a bunch of gaffs to fall behind 24-0.
The surge started early in that frame, when Roughriders running back Marcus Thigpen fumbled the ball away. It took the Stampeders just one play to score, when star quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell hit receiver Marken Michel on a deep corner route for a 41-yard touchdown pass.
|The Roughriders celebrate Tobi Antigha’s pick-six.|
The bleeding didn’t stop there for the Roughriders. Running back Jerome Messam fumbled the ball away, and the Stampeders recovered it at the Saskatchewan 40.
Calgary drove that distance in four plays to score another touchdown, when Mitchell hit receiver Eric Rogers with a 15-yard scoring toss.
The Roughriders offence was not a pretty sight gaining just 247 yards on the night, fumbling the ball away a total of four times and turning the ball over on downs once.
|Charleston Hughes hit the big screen with a couple of sack celebrations.|
Saskatchewan’s offence couldn’t sustain any drives or make any big plays to create some much needed major scores. Running back Tre Mason had the longest play from scrimmage for the Roughriders with an 18-yard run.
Roughriders quarterback Brandon Bridge fulfilled the role of game manager completing 19-of-29 passes for 147 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions, and he wasn’t responsible for any of Saskatchewan’s four fumbles. The Saskatchewan coaching staff didn’t call any plays which would allow Bridge to stretch the field.
|Rider Nation signals a first down for the hosts at Mosaic Stadium.|
On the ensuing play after Butler’s interception was taken away, Mitchell hit receiver DeVaris Daniels with a 15-yard touchdown toss to put the Stampeders up 31-19.
To make things worse on Saturday, the Roughriders couldn’t deliver a win before a sellout crowd of 33,350 – most of whom wanted to see the host side defeat one of their biggest rivals outside of a few pockets of Stampeders supporters.
|Mascot “Gainer the Gopher” circles the field.|
Back on June 30, the Roughriders dropped a 23-17 decision to the Montreal Alouettes, who are 1-5 on the campaign. That was a game that slipped away.
On Saturday, the Stampeders did not look indestructible like they have at points in the past decade and appeared very beatable. That contest in the end was another that got away from Saskatchewan.
The Roughriders defence has found its groove. The Roughriders offence looks to be hurt by the fact the deck might have been shuffled too much from last season.
Bakari Grant, Rob Bagg and Nic Demski, who missed a lengthy stretch due to injury, were all regular receivers last season, and all are no longer with the team. Carter, who had 1,043 yards receiving last season for the Roughriders, has been used sparingly on offence.
The Roughriders offensive line has had struggles but is getting better. Saskatchewan could draw from the steady influence of veteran quarterback Kevin Glenn last season, but he is now with the Edmonton Eskimos.
|QB Bo Levi Mitchell and the Stampeders were opportunistic.|
When both return, the Roughrider deck will be shuffled in a way that might help the offence. Both will be missing, when the Roughriders travel to Edmonton to face the Eskimos (4-2) this coming Thursday.
At the moment, the Roughriders are an average team in the CFL. They still can potentially be really good, really bad or finish out the regular season at 9-9.
They are at a crossroads, and no one can predict with certainty how they will finish.
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