Grey Cup bound?

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I like how this face-mask has evidence /Image: riderville.com

I like how this face-mask has evidence /Image: riderville.com

Could the Riders shaky season even out in the end?

Article: Brady Lang – Sports Writer

After an 8-1 start – followed by a 3-7 finish – the Saskatchewan Roughriders will be hosting a home playoff game this month.

To say that 2013 was an up and down campaign for the Green and White would be considered an understatement. The beginning of the season included running back Kory Sheets’ historical start to the season, quarterback Darian Durant sitting without an interception until Labour Day, and the Roughrider defence looking incredibly stingy.

And then the Banjo Bowl happened.

For any fans that don’t know, the Banjo Bowl is the rematch between the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and Saskatchewan in Winnipeg the week following the Labour Day Classic.

The Riders lost to the lowly Bombers on that day and slowly the pieces began to fall apart.

The offense began to sputter; the defence struggled in a few games and the next thing fans in Riderville noticed were that their team was in a dogfight for a home playoff game.

After a start that had every Rider fan believing in an inevitable Grey Cup birth, the Riders fell off the wagon. Sheets was injured in a loss against the Argonauts, which disrupted the rhythm of the offense terribly. Then, to make matters worse, three Rider players – including two starters – were charged after an incident on the Dewdney strip in Regina and were subsequently charged. And after two losses against Calgary, the Roughriders were slipping down to third in the West.

[pullquote]“If the old adage “defence wins championships” were to be true, the Saskatchewan Roughriders should win the Grey Cup in front of their home crowd this upcoming post-season.”[/pullquote]

If it weren’t for a huge win three weeks ago in Regina against the B.C. Lions, the Riders would have been without a playoff game after an 8-1 start.

Luckily, the strong defence of the Riders – bolstered even more with the acquisition of Winnipeg’s defensive end, Alex Hall – helped the team defeat B.C., giving the fans at least a shimmer of hope in this otherwise rough and confusing season.

However, if the old adage “defence wins championships” were to be true, the Saskatchewan Roughriders should win the Grey Cup in front of their home crowd this upcoming post-season.

The team has a scary defensive line with the likes of Terrius George, John Chick, Ricky Foley, Alex Hall, Keith Shologan, and Jermaine McElveen, which disrupts any offense and is always a threat for a big sack at any point in the game. The defence also sports quite the coverage team that includes Tyron Brackenridge, Terrell Maze, Prince Miller, Macho Harris, Craig Butler, Paul Woldu and Weldon Brown.

Going into the post-season, the most intriguing spot on the Riders must be at middle linebacker. Veteran Mike McCullough and newcomer Eijro Kuale should split the duties this weekend against B.C., but nothing seems to be set in stone quite yet.

The special teams unit must be better for this team to compete down the stretch into late November. After an embarrassing finish in which the game was ended against Edmonton last week due to a punt return, the Riders need to be better to beat tough teams like B.C. and Calgary if they want to be in Grey Cup 101.

All in all, I can truly say this season was an entertaining one. As the snow begins to hit the ground you get that feeling of CFL playoff football, and as we all know absolutely anything can happen when it comes down to it in this league.

Every game will be entertaining yet I don’t think anyone would doubt that having the Roughriders in the Grey Cup would be ideal and incredibly special.

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