Is a Grey Cup looming?
Article: Autumn McDowell – Sports Editor
On July 21st, 2013, the Saskatchewan Roughriders took on the visiting Hamilton Tiger Cats, earning themselves a decisive victory over some former friends and foes.
The Riders headed into the game sporting a 3-0 record in this young CFL season, against a struggling Tiger Cats team that stumbled out of the gate with a 1-2 record. However, the real story heading into the game was the return of former Riders legendary quarterback and former head coach, Kent Austin. Along with him, came one of Rider Nation’s favourite love-to-hate players, Henry Burris.
For weeks, there was buzz about how the Riders faithful would react to the man who brought them two of their three Grey Cup victories, one as a player in 1989 and one as the Head Coach in 2007. Austin came out to a mixed reaction of boos and cheers.
When the game finally started, the Riders took care of business, thrashing the Ti-Cats a whopping 37-0, to advance to 4-0 on the season and drop the Ti-Cats to a dismal 1-3.
Riders quarterback Darian Durant was spectacular, going 20-32 for 347 passing yards, and four touchdowns to add to his league-leading 12 on the season, while running back Kory Sheets was once again thrilling, rushing 24 times for 130 yards on the day, as he continues to prove he is the best running back in the CFL today.
Rob Bagg seems to have finally kicked the injury bug and was the star receiver of the day as he put up 125 yards and two touchdowns on only five catches, showing his explosiveness in only his second game of the year for the Green and White.
On the defensive side, the Riders stifled Henry Burris and the Ti-Cats offence, sacking Burris five times and picking him off once. The Riders also stuffed the run, only allowing 16 rushing yards, thereby preventing Burris from being a factor on both sides of the ball.
While the Riders have looked dominant so far, the season is long, and fans need to remember that there are still 14 games left before the playoffs. We’ve seen this team start hot like this on many occasions, only to fizzle out later in the year. Right now, the priority needs to be keeping Durant healthy; the Rider Nation doesn’t want to see their star quarterback’s health become the story of the year.
Also, the Riders should bring Sheets’ carries down a bit as not to burn him out completely by the end of the season. While Sheets has been super dominant, running backs aren’t known for their longevity. With 93 rushes on the season already, and 50 in the last two games, he will be hard pressed to keep up that pace. Sheets’ great strength has been his fantastic explosiveness and ability to make defenders miss and look dumb. An injury, or even fatigue, would jeopardize this.
Another note to take away from this game was that former B.C. Lions outstanding receiver Geroy Simon finally made his debut for the Riders. It was rather underwhelming, as he only caught two passes for 38 yards.
In this game, Simon wasn’t really needed and there was no reason to push him hard in a 37-point blowout. Still it was not an encouraging sight for Rider fans. Simon was the big acquisition for the Riders this off-season, and he can be a huge part of this vaunted offence, making things for Getzlaf and Dressler a lot easier, but he needs to be on the field.
This is not a Jason Clermont situation just yet – let’s give him more than one game to produce.