Thursday, July 19, 2012

Thursday Morning 'Rider Blogging

The Saskatchewan Roughriders' third win of 2012 involved a rather different path than the previous two.

Instead of dominating the line on either side of the ball, the 'Riders' win over B.C. featured a Lions team that largely controlled both sides of the ball. Travis Lulay put together a fairly stellar passing performance, while Saskatchewan's offence once again settled for modest gains while having trouble generating any big plays.

But that doesn't necessarily guarantee victory against a team which takes advantage of its few opportunities. And once again, the 'Riders couldn't have done much better on that front.

Most obviously, Tristan Jackson put together exactly the performance 'Rider fans have been waiting for since he was first added to the team. But his 129-yard touchdown run was far from a solo effort: instead, the 'Riders' field-goal blocking team allowed Jackson to wait for the Lions' cover team members to be levelled before patiently picking up 15 or 20 yards at a time. And the combination of an explosive returner and well-prepared blocking unit may help the 'Riders down the road by forcing opponents to rethink long field goal tries.

Meanwhile, B.C. had plenty of opportunities to break the 'Riders' zero-turnover streak - only to have at least one would-be interception slip through a defender's hands, while an apparent Kory Sheets fumble was overturned on replay. And those scattered plays along with an uncharacteristically poor performance by Paul McCallum were enough to swing the game in Saskatchewan's favour and hand the Lions their first loss since last October.

Naturally, the Lions' control of the line of scrimmage meant the 'Riders figure to have plenty left to improve in order to be able to beat the CFL's best teams consistently. But for now, a win is enough to keep the 'Riders on the right track - and the victory over the defending CFL champions confirms there's nobody beyond the team's reach.

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