It’s only the fourth game of the season, but the rematch tonight against B.C. pretty much qualifies as a must-win for the Riders. The team is off to a nightmare 0W-3L start, and with four of their first five games at home that means they’ll be on the road a fair bit after next Sunday’s home game against the Hamilton Tiger Cats.
Despite last Friday’s 35-32 OT victory against the Riders in Vancouver, the Lions aren’t generally regarded as one of the top teams in the league. If the Green & White lose both ends of the home-and-home with B.C. they’ll have dug a pretty deep hole for themselves.
In fairness to the Riders, they haven’t played horribly this year. In all five losses, including two in the preseason, they held leads well into the second half before wheels of various types (turnovers, failed third down gambles, special teams gaffes, shoddy defence, penalties) fell off and they ended up snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.
A win tonight and the Riders can start to build on some of the positives they’ve displayed in earlier games. Another loss, though, and the disgruntlement level in Rider Nation is bound to rise. So far, head coach Corey Chamblin has taken most of the heat, with some fans arguing that his self-assumed role as pseudo defensive coordinator (along with official DC Greg Quick) has caused him to lose sight of his broader obligations as head coach and that the team has suffered as a result.
Whether that criticism is fair or not, it does seem that sometimes, both this year and last, the Rider braintrust (which includes more than Chamblin, of course) could be accused of outsmarting themselves with some of their moves both on and off the football field. And when you consider that since Darian Durant’s injury in last season’s Banjo Bowl the Riders regular season and playoff record stands at 2W-11L the angst/frustration is not unjustified.
Game time at Mosaic Stadium is 8 p.m. For more information, visit the Riderville website.