Because of an unbalanced schedule in the CFL West the Riders and Lions only meet twice during the 2014 regular season. Following this game, which goes tonight at Mosaic Stadium, the Riders pay a return visit to Vancouver on Aug. 24. Then that’s it until a potential playoff match-up — assuming both teams make it, that is.
Heading into the season, most pigskin pundits, including our intrepid trio of Ron Mexico, Cal Corduroy and Earl Camembert, felt both the Riders and Leos were a lock to reach the post-season. It’s only week three, so it’s not like teams are starting to separate into contenders and pretenders just yet, but with an 0W-2L record B.C. has underwhelmed. Edmonton and Winnipeg, meanwhile, have played better than expected, and sit near the top of the West standings.
Of course, it’s still extremely early. But without QB Travis Lulay B.C. has laboured on offence. Lion GM Wally Buono brought in CFL veteran Kevin Glenn as a stop-gap. But so far, he’s performed abysmally. Lulay’s on the six-game injury list at present. Assuming he heals in time, he’d be eligible to play in the Aug. 24 rematch, but at this point that’s far from certain.
Lulay suffered his shoulder injury in a game last September against the Alouettes, and outside of a miracle appearance in last November’s west semi-final (game photo above) where he struggled to throw the ball with any authority, he has been a spectator. Rumours have even circulated that the injury is career-threatening. Whether that’s true or not, he faces a long road to recovery, and if Glenn can’t get in sync with the rest of the offence it will be a long season for the Leos.
As for the Riders, they looked impressive in a week one win against Hamilton. But in their first road game of 2014 in Toronto July 5, the team struggled in all facets of the game and lost 48-15. With all the changes that were made in the off-season, some bumps in the road were to be expected, and that was definitely a big one. After the game, coach Corey Chamblin stated that the team had been lacklustre in practice and had paid the price. Management delivered another message a few days later when 2013 CFL West all-star DB Dwight Anderson was traded to the Argos for a conditional draft pick.
With injuries at the receiver position, and uncertainty at RB where Anthony Allen has shown promise — but has also suffered from fumblitis — the Rider offence will have their hands full with a tough Lion defence. To win, the Green & White will have to get their mojo back on defence and shut down the B.C. offence.
After this game, the Riders have a bye, then get a chance to avenge their loss to the Boatmen with a July 26 home date against Toronto at Mosaic Stadium. Kick off tonight is 7:30 p.m., and the game is being broadcast on TSN. For more info visit the Riderville website.