Following an impressive (and surprising) 43-16 victory in Hamilton on June 29 to open the 2012 CFL season, the Riders kick off the home portion of their schedule with a tilt today against the Edmonton Eskimos.
The Eskimos won their first game of the season too — but in much less convincing fashion. With Steven Jyles at the helm, they eeked out a 19-15 victory over the Toronto Argonauts led by former Esk QB Ricky Ray. I didn’t see the game, but judging by the highlights, the Argos did a pretty good job of shooting themselves in the foot with some costly penalties (18 in total) and two missed field goals from relatively close range.
Receiver Adarius Bowman had five receptions for 110 yards for Edmonton, but outside of that, the Eskimos’ performance on offence was so-so. Defensively, though, the team had a strong game, recording three sacks against Ray and pressuring him on a number of other occasions. Another stat from the game that demonstrates Edmonton’s defensive dominance is that while Argo running back Cory Boyd had ten receptions, he gained only nine yards as receiver, for a phenomenal per catch average of .9 yards.
In going 5-13 last year, the Riders failed to record a single victory in ten games against CFL West opponents. If the Green & White hope to challenge for a playoff spot this year, that’s a situation they obviously have to improve on. The key to this game, it would seem, is the Rider O-line’s ability to keep Eskimo pass rushers at bay and open some holes for stud running back Kory Sheets (pictured). If they can do that, the offensive should be reasonably productive. Meanwhile, on the defensive side of the ball, the Riders will have to find a way to stop Bowman and his receiving partner Fred Stamps.
Game time at Mosaic Stadium is 5 p.m.