Thursday, July 2, 2009

Riders Must Tame Lions

The Saskatchewan Roughriders will look to put the mistakes of pre-season past behind them on Friday as they class with their bitter rivals the BC Lions.

The game marks the first meeting between the Riders and the Lions since the Lions traveled to Mosaic Stadium in the playoffs and beat the Riders.

Both teams were "ravaged" so to speak during the off-season. The Riders lost two of their 'prime time' defensive players and the Lions lost a number of players to the NFL and to free agency.

Without a proven running back and a new look defense, the Lions appear to be ripe for the picking on Friday.
But alas, overconfidence can lead to a teams demise, and if the Riders take this attitude into the game it could lead to a dissapointment at home.

Mission Tips:

When the Riders have the ball....
When Saskatchewan fields the ball on offense, it will be imperative they make things happen early and often. Putting up a lot of points in quick succesion could demoralize the BC Lions. So how will they do this?

Saskatchewan should not be afraid to run the ball to new running back Hugh Charles, who showed flashes during the pre-season. A solid running game will only make life easier for Darian Durant as he begins the transition once again into the starters role. Without Cameron Wake and with the question marks in BC linebacking core, a running game could be the way to go.

If the running game doesn't produce for the Riders, they can throw the ball to a number of talented receivers. If Darian Durant can get the ball out to stars Andy Fantuz, Weston Dressler and Jason Clermont, it could be a long day for the Lions.

The Riders would be smart to run a lot of misdirection and plays to catch the Lions off guard. Test the Lions and see if they can handle the test.

When the Lions have the ball...
The Lions don't have a proven running back following Stefan Logan's departure to the NFL, but Saskatchewan should still focus on stopping the running game. Nothing will give BC more momentum then developing a strong running game.

The Riders also need to get and keep quarterback Buck Pierce off his game. If Pierce gets hot the Riders could be in trouble but if they put the pressure on him, he could make some mistakes and turn the ball over.

And of course, the Riders db's will need to keep an eye on receivers Paris Jackson and Geroy Simon. The talented duo could cause havoc in the backfield.

Agents to watch for:

Darian Durant: Darian Durant was named the starter for the Riders and has the confidence of his teammates. If Durant can regain his form from a year ago, the Riders offense could have a great day.
Jason Clermont: Playing against his former team, Clermont should be motivated. The Lions released Clermont in the off-season and Clermont will look to prove he is still a commodity.
John Chick: Chick was injured a lot last season, but he is still remembered for his amazing performance in the 2007 Grey Cup run. Chick is still the leader of the Riders defense and he should be one of the Riders getting pressure on Buck Pierce.

Paris Jackson: Jackson is one of the rising stars in the league, and if the Riders put too much attention on Geroy Simon, Jackson could have a field day.
Aaron Hunt: Defensive end Cameron Wake may be gone, but Hunt still remains on the defensive line. Hunt could be a huge force in breaking up the running game.
Anton Mackenzie: Mackenzie left the Riders in the off-season for the Lions. The outside linebacker will look to have a huge game for the Lions against his former squad.

Agent Roughrider's Prediction:
Both teams may take some time to get into their groove on Friday. Saskatchewan does have the advantage of playing at home with their spirited crowd.

BC will have to rely on the passing game alot with their lack of a running game, and Saskatchewan deploys seven defensive backs.

Saskatchewan's offense appears to be running fine after a few learning curves, but it will be their defense that could determine whether they win or lose.

Riders will win the game 24-10.

Agent Roughrider out...

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Calgary-Montreal Headlines Exciting Opening Week

The wait is finally over!

The long heated off-season has withered down, the gruelling training camp has winded down, and the final rosters are set for a new season. Seven teams will be trying to dethrone the defending Grey Cup Champion Calgary Stampeders.

The quest for the Grey cup will begin this Wednesday, when the CFL opens up with a double header. It doesn’t matter how you did last season or what your record was—every team is undefeated and has a chance to become the next Grey Cup Champions.

We have all heard the headlines heading into the season.

“Will Tiger Cats finally make the playoffs?”

“Will Calgary repeat as Grey Cup Champions?”

Now, it is time to find out the answers to these questions.

Prediction Time:
Every week I will predict the winners of each game. Disagree with my picks? Comment down below with your picks and see if you can do better

Wednesday July 1
Game One: Hamilton Tigercats vs. Toronto Argonauts

Another instalment of the Hamilton-Toronto rivalry—what a perfect way to start the season.

Two underachieving teams last season, the Tabbie and the Argos will both have something to prove this season. A win over their biggest rivals would be a welcome start to the season for both teams.

Both teams retooled a lot over the off-season, with Toronto adding Zeke Moreno, Rob Murphy and Dominic Picard; and Hamilton adding Alexander Gauthier, Dan Goodspeed and Brandon Guillory.

It is also the debut of two new head coaches. Bart Andrus will look to right the Argos sinking ship and Marcel Bellefuile will begin his first official season as Tabbies head coach.

For Toronto, a big key to the game will be shutting down the run. Hamilton has bulked up on the offensive line and have talented running back Terry Caulley carrying the rock.

If Toronto does this, they will put more pressure on Hamilton’s starting quarterback, be it Kevin Glenn or Quinton Porter. On offense, they need to try to establish some sort of running game. If they are successful in this, Kerry Joseph will have less pressure on him and settle into his grove.

For Hamilton, a big key to the game will be containing Kerry Joseph. Joseph is known for scrambling with the football and it is usually bad for the defense when he does.

If they do this, it will force Joseph to settle in the pocket and throw the football, which he struggles with. On offense, Hamilton should look first to establish the running game. Hamilton ran all over the Argonauts last season, and should be able to do so again.

This game really could go either way. Both teams have a different look and will be desperate for a win. Hamilton is at home however, and they will have a faithful crowd behind them hoping for the start of something great.

My Pick: Hamilton

*Game of the Week*
*Game Two: Calgary Stampeders vs. Montreal Alouettes*

The second game of the doubleheader is the Grey Cup rematch from last season, when Calgary traveled into Montreal and claimed victory.

With both teams rosters pretty much intact, this game should prove to be a very heated one—and undeniably the game of the week.

Anthony Calvillo has returned for another season, determined to lead the Alouettes to the Grey Cup.

The Stampeders however, will be celebrating their Grey Cup victory and won’t want the Als to spoil the party.

For Calgary to win, they will need to attack Montreal’s defense through the air and on the ground. Montreal has the ability to put up a lot of points and Calgary may need to score a lot of points to win.

On defense, it is really hard to stop the Alouettes offense, but if Calgary can shut down the run and get pressure on Anthony Calvillo then they may be able to hold Montreal in check.

For Montreal to win, they will need to also put up a lot of points. Sometimes the best defense against Calgary is a good offense, and the more Montreal has the ball, the less time Henry Burris will be able to go to work.

When Calgary does have the ball, Montreal will need to contain Henry Burris and get pressure on him, or else he will torch their defense.

Common knowledge would say that Calgary would win this game.

They are the defending Grey Cup Champions and are playing at home. But Montreal is angry following their Grey Cup defeat, and while Calgary is celebrating their Grey Cup victory, Montreal will be there to play football.

My Pick: Montreal

Thursday July 2
Game One: Edmonton Eskimos vs. Winnipeg Blue Bombers

In an intriguing third game of the season, the Blue Bombers will travel into hostile Commonwealth Stadium.

Stefan Lefors, Edmonton’s third string quarterback last season, is now the starter for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. He will square off against quarterback Ricky Ray—one of the best in the business.

What makes this game so intriguing is that we don’t know what to expect from either team. Winnipeg has question marks at the quarterback position, and Edmonton is being lead by former defensive coordinator Richie Hall.

For Winnipeg, as hard as it may sound, the key is to get Ricky Ray off his game. Ray can pick a defense apart, but if Winnipeg can put pressure on him, it will force Edmonton to turn to the running game, where they don’t have many proven options.

On offense, Winnipeg should attack Edmonton’s front seven with rising star Fred Reid. If the running game is working, it will open up the passing game where talented receivers Derrick Armstrong, Romby Bryant, and Terrance Edwards will look to reek havoc.

Edmonton on the other hand, will look foremost to stop the run. Fred Reid is one of the rising stars in the game and if they stop him, it will put pressure on the inexperienced Stefan Lefors. On offense, Edmonton should try to establish the run, but if all else fails, they should make sure Ricky Ray is protected then air the ball out.

Stefan Lefors may have success in the league, but it will likely take him a while. He is competing against one of the best quarterbacks in the league, and an improved Eskimos defense.

If Lefors plays solidly, the Bombers could pose a challenge to the Eskimos, but if not it could be a long day.

My Pick: Edmonton

Friday July 3
Game One: Saskatchewan Roughriders vs. BC Lions

Returning to the stage of the Western Semi-final, the Riders will look to avenge last season's loss at home.

The game will have plenty of hype going into it, as former Rider Anton Mackenzie will return to Saskatchewan and former Lion Jason Clermont will face his former team for the first time.

It is always a bitter battle when the Lions come into Regina, and with the question marks surrounding both teams, it should be interesting to see how the game plays out.

For Saskatchewan, getting Buck Pierce off his game will be key. BC doesn’t have a proven running game, so if Pierce is put off his game, the Lions will be in trouble.

On offense, Saskatchewan should look to get the ball to their playmakers. If Darian Durant can get the ball out to playmakers Weston Dressler and Andy Fantuz, it could be a long day for the Riders.

For the Lions, pressure will be the key. Darian Durant could be thrown out of his game—and into bad reads and turnovers—if the Lions put consistent pressure him.

On offense, if the Lions can develop a running game, it would shift the momentum in their favour. And of course, if all else fails, Buck Pierce just needs to get the ball out to Paris Jackson and Geroy Simon.

Both teams have a lot of question marks heading into the season, and this game could go a long way to determine the answers. Saskatchewan does have the home field advantage, though it hasn’t always been an advantage in this series.

My Pick: Saskatchewan

My Record: 0-0

Agent Roughrider out...