The Rider Fan Forum shares their thoughts on the CFL playoffs

by Gregory Beatty

sportsWe last spoke with our Rider Fan Forum — that intrepid trio of Ron Mexico, Earl Camembert and Cal Corduroy — on Sept. 4. The Riders were in the thick of the CFL West race with a 7W-2L record and had just welcomed Weston Dressler back.

Then Darian Durant suffered a serious elbow injury in the Banjo Bowl. Then, “Plllbblblbbthth”.

So panel, how would you rate the team’s effort to cope with his loss during the season’s second half?

Earl Camembert:  I would rate it D-minus. First, their record after Durant’s injury (2W-6L) speaks for itself. Second, tracking down a 62 year-old sitting on his couch to come play QB smacks totally of desperation. I think the coaching staff had already buggered up the RB situation, and they followed that up by buggering up the QB situation. Kerry Joseph never won anything upon his return, and in my mind you might as well go with the guys who have been here all year. And their defence waned a bit because they were on the field the whole game.

Ron Mexico: The team’s “effort” to cope with Durant’s absence was fine. Their “ability” to cope was terrible. It sounds like GM Brendan Taman tried to pry Henry Burris out of Ottawa. Personally, I’m glad he didn’t succeed. He also brought in Joseph. It wasn’t going to be easy to fill Durant’s shoes. I didn’t think we’d be that helpless without him.

Cal Corduroy: Marginal at best. If it isn’t obvious to Durant haters (and I used to be one) that he’s the heart and soul of the team, then it never will be. Surprisingly enough, not one aspect of the Rider game was as good once Durant got hurt. Granted, the defence spent three-quarters of the game on the field. But with our “razor sharp” special teams, a run game that disappeared save for the first half against Edmonton on Saturday, an outstanding 75 yards per game in passing…‘nuff said. I will say, however, save for QB, the Riders recruited some quality players who minimized the impact of injuries at other positions.

It was a weird year in the CFL, with lots of lackluster play, penalties and injuries. How do you see the Nov. 16 semi-finals shaping up? In the East, Montreal hosts B.C., and in the West Saskatchewan visits Edmonton.

EC: RB Andrew Harris is hurt and QB Kevin Glenn can’t win anything of any significance. Plus, B.C. has to travel across three time zones to play, which means they’ll be starting the game at 10 a.m. Vancouver time. So I think Montreal will beat B.C. In the West, I’m afraid to say, the Riders are going down. Durant won’t be ready, it seems, and not having a passing game will kill you in the CFL. The only way they have a chance is if Edmonton QB Mike Reilly is out, which it appears he might be. The Rider D-line might then give them a chance, and they’ll win 18-14 or something.

RM: In the semis, I see both home teams winning. B.C. going to Montreal will be tough. How many time zones is that? Edmonton with their regulars playing should handle the Riders. Even if Matt Nichols plays for Reilly, I think Edmonton wins.

CC: In the East, B.C. (with stereo knobs as coach and GM) should be able to beat Montreal… I’m not sold on anyone playing football named “Jonathan”, so that kills the Als with Crompton at QB. In the West, it boils down to one of three scenarios: (1) No Durant — Riders lose.  (2) Durant in and rusty — Riders lose.  (3) Durant in and semi-rusty — Riders rally around him for a slim victory (kind of like on Saturday when Chris Milo looked like he had a compound fracture of his fibula as well as a torn ACL and dislocated patella, but miraculously made it out to kick for the Roughies).

Who do you like in the West and East finals in Calgary and Hamilton on Nov. 23, and then the Grey Cup in Vancouver on Nov. 30?

EC: Hamilton hasn’t lost at their new cheap-o stadium, so I think they’ll be tough to beat in the East final. Calgary will shit the bed in the West final no matter who they play, because that’s what they do. I think Edmonton has a shot to win the Cup if Reilly is healthy. If not, then the East team has a good chance. Who would’ve imagined that halfway thru the season? I hate to say it because Kent Austin is a dink, but Hamilton is playing the best right now.

RM: In the division finals I’ll take Edmonton over Calgary, who always choke in the West Final, and Hamilton over Montreal. Grey Cup goes to Edmonton, with Kenny Austin pouting afterwards and bolting for some new opportunity.

CC: Calgary out of the West unless they play the Riders with a healthy Durant (then the Riders win) or Edmonton with a healthy Reilly (in which case the Esks win). Hamilton will win the East (Austin is a good coach) and the Cup, even though they shouldn’t… they haven’t been better than the top three west teams. But they’re playing good at the moment, and this year, besides Calgary, there hasn’t been a consistently good team. Anyone can get pounded by anyone else.

During Grey Cup Week the player awards will be handed out. Who are your picks for Most Outstanding Player, Canadian, Defensive Player, Offensive Lineman, Rookie and Special Teams?

EC: In the West, I’ll say B.C. linebacker Solomon Elimimian for both Outstanding and Defensive Player. He wins the league Defensive Player for sure. The East nominee for Outstanding Player should be Montreal receiver Duron Carter, but a bunch of dumbasses will vote for Toronto QB Ricky Ray. Rider DE Ricky Foley is the best Canadian, both in the west and the league. O-lineman I have no idea but I’ll say Calgary centre Brett Jones. Rookie will be Edmonton linebacker Dexter McCoil. Special teams will be the twerp kicker from Winnipeg with the unpronounceable name [Lirim Hajrullahu], although I hate it when little twits win these awards.

RM: First off, they should still be called the Schenleys even if the booze company doesn’t sponsor them anymore. Elimimian wins both Outstanding Player and Defensive Player. Clearly deserves both, but remember that Cameron Wake got passed over for MOP when he was the best in the league. Top Canadian should be Foley. Top O-lineman should be Brett Jones, who should be a Rider. Toronto DE Tristan Okpalaugo was the rookie I noticed the most, followed by Winnipeg’s kicker Hajrullahu, who I’ll give the Special Teams award to.

CC: Too bad Solomon Aluminum had such a great year, because John Chick gets nothing as a result. Receiver Adarius Bowman had a good year for Edmonton but Duron Carter had a good year in Montreal. Aluminum gets MOP and Defensive Player. Montreal’s Jeff Parrett as O-lineman (Brett Jones honorable mention). That Hallelujah guy from Winnipeg gets Special Teams. Edmonton’s Dexter McCoil and Toronto’s Tristan Okpalaugo in a dead heat for rookie.