Here’s a link to the Rider Fan Forum that ran in our June 25 issue. The column was timed to appear in advance of the Riders 2015 CFL regular season home opener that goes tonight at Mosaic Stadium at 6 p.m. against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
If you check out the column you’ll see that our intrepid panelists Cal Corduroy, Earl Camembert and Ron Mexico, along with our highly touted rookie out of Saskatoon John’s Chick, are reasonably optimistic about the Riders’ chances in 2015.
One of the keys to the team’s success, they observed, would be the play of the offensive line. In the off-season, the Riders severed ties with centre Dominic Picard (who subsequently signed with Winnipeg) and lost tackle Ben Heenan when he signed with the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts. Those are two big holes to fill. The Riders also traded one of their inspirational leaders, defensive lineman Ricky Foley, to Toronto for middle linebacker Shea Emry.
Having missed most of training camp and the pre-season, defensive back/linebacker Tyron Brackenridge won’t play. Receiver Weston Dressler did suit up against Calgary on June 19, but missed some practice time this week and won’t play either.
Further to the Rider Fan Forum, one thing our panelists were unanimous about was their criticism of the off-season rule changes the CFL made to boost offence by outlawing contact between defenders and receivers five yards beyond the line of scrimmage, and restricting the ability of the lineman on punt coverage to move downfield until the ball is actually kicked.
The panelists foresaw that leading to a pile more penalties, further slowing down the game and creating lots of opportunities for game officials to impact on the outcome through bad calls. That was arguably true in the pre-season (in the Rider game against Edmonton in Fort McMurray the teams combined for 55 penalties!), so we’ll see how things play out in the regular season.
As with last year, the Green & White and Blue & Gold will meet three times this season. After tonight’s game, they’ll meet in the Labour Day Classic on Sept. 6 and then the following Sunday in Winnipeg in the Banjo Bowl. Prior to the LDC we’ll have the mid-season installment of Rider Fan Forum in our Sept. 3 issue.