Traditionally, things don’t start heating up in the CFL until Labour Day. But if there’s a game on the Green & White’s schedule that qualifies as a must win it’s this one. After roaring out of the gate with three Ws, the Riders have lost four straight. The slide started against the Stamps back on July 19 at McMahon Stadium, in fact, when they blew a huge fourth quarter lead and lost 41-38 in OT. Since then, the Riders have struggled in all three facets of the game: offence, defence and (to a lesser extent) special teams.
Coming off a 22-14 loss at home to the Toronto Argonauts on Aug. 18, and sitting with the same 3-4 record as the Riders, the Stamps haven’t exactly been setting the CFL on fire either. That same weekend the Riders fell 24-5 to the B.C. Lions in Vancouver on Aug. 19. The defence played decent in that game, but the offence stunk mightily. QB Darian Durant (pictured at far right against Hamilton) threw three interceptions against the Leos, heightening concerns about his ability to perform at an elite level in the CFL, and leading some Rider fans to call for back-up QB Drew Willy to be given a shot (the so-called “Free Willy” faction).
Heading into the game, pigskin pundits are saying that to be effective, Durant needs to get out of the pocket more and and tuck the ball under his arm and take off on occasion. So far this year, Durant has rushed 17 times for 159 yards. That’s an impressive 9.4 yard per carry average. Doing that a bit more would perhaps help keep defenses honest, while hopefully helping the Rider receiving corp perform more effectively.
Game time at Mosaic Stadium (and TSN) is 1 p.m. Oh yeah, and one more thing: Stamp receiver Nik Lewis is a BIG PART of the Calgary offense, so Rider defensive coordinators would be wise to put a bit of emphasis on trying to cover him.