THERE'S A "1" IN THE WIN COLUMN - Ladies and gentlemen, its Game On when it comes to the green-and-white. I didn't think they would beat the Ottawa REDBLACKS on Friday, and I believe a majority of the 30-thousand who wandered into the grand old lady on 10th Avenue just north of downtown Regina were likely thinking the same thing. I just hope no one was injured leaving the game as that monkey that had been on the backs of the green and white escaped to no one's dismay.
As I said on Friday, the Riders don't win this game on paper, but we all know you don't play the game on paper and with a break here, and a bounce there, it could happen. Those breaks and bounces came. Trevor Harris was injured putting the high-flying Ottawa offence in the hands of Brock Jensen. I knew more about Brock Lesnar than Brock Jensen, and the Riders defense may have been in the same boat. The kid looked good, but he was out-duelled by Mitchell Gale,
With family in the stands. the 26 year old from Alva, Oklahoma got the job done in his first pro start. A pro start where he didn't have two of his starting receivers (John Chiles and Shawmaud Chambers) and two of his starting offensive linemen (Brendon Labatte and Dan Clark---add Chris Best to that mix if you want too.) All Gale did was throw for 354 yards and 1 TD in what was a pretty good performance. He will still be the back-up when Darian Durant returns, but I think Rider Nation is a little more at ease with number 4 on the sidelines right now than what they were last year. While some out there are trying to plant the seeds for a quarterback controversy, forget about it. It isn't going to happen.
Should we have been surprised at how Gale ran the Rider offence? You are not supposed to do that in your first CFL start, but this is a guy who has worked with Scott Milanovich in Toronto and has worked with Ricky Ray, Zach Collaros and Trevor Harris, Learning under those three will teach you some things and we saw that Friday. Like 98 percent of you, I hope to see Durant back under center in Montreal, but if he isn't, I'm a lot more confident than I was last year. Maybe all of those who whined, bitched, moaned and complained because they got a Shawn Lemon jersey should just take the nametag off and put Gale's on.
Other thoughts on Friday----in no particular order.
1, Can I just say again "How the h-e hockey sticks did Corey Chamblin and Brendan Taman get away with starting Jamel Richardson and Taj Smith ahead of Naaman Roosevelt. Everyone knew the Riders had themselves a player, but we had to wait and wait and wait to see it. Roosevelt scratched the surface with what he could do last year, and predictions of him having a huge year this season are coming to fruition. 42 catches for 477 yards and a touchdown in four games is what he has. Roosevelt isn't in the Chris Williams-Adarius Bowman category, but he may be there before too long.
2. The Riders took a lot of heat last season when soon to be free agent Jerome Messam was traded to Calgary for Tyler Crapigna. The cry of "Jeremy O'Day traded the best Canadian RB in the CFL to a Western rival for a kicker?" was heard loudly in this province. Who's laughing now? We knew Messam wasn't coming back here as a free agent, and O'Day went out and got a stepping stone to help build the future. Crapigna is 15 for 17 this year and his 53 yard game winner was the season's biggest play this season. That kick and the ensuing hold by the defence showed this young team they can win, and they can win without their leader. I don't think confidence was waning any in that room, but you know that team was pressing for a "W". They have it now, so let's see what they do with a win under their belt going into Montreal
3. Many will say the Riders won this game because Trevor Harris didn't play. That's fine. The Riders beat BC if Darian Durant remained in the game. It all evens out in the end doesn't it.
4. While the score would indicate a good old-fashioned CFL game, the reality is the game was not a classic and the reason for that was the performance of Al Bradbury and company. Horrible doesn't start to describe their effort. The game has become over-run with challenges and reviews. The lack of consistency is maddening, and there is no flow to the game. Global TV's Taylor Shire brought up a great point in the press box while watching Bradbury's crew stumble along. In the 4th quarter, Jensen was called for intentional grounding. The ref stood over Jensen for a good 4-5 seconds before he finally threw his flag. WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR??? As Taylor mentioned, you would never see a guy get hauled down on a breakaway with the referee standing over the forward and defenceman for 4-5 seconds before pointing to center ice or calling a penalty. Make the damn call! Make the right call so we don't need reviews. Yes, the coaches challenge is a little ridiculous too. (Cmon Rick Campbell, you didn't think that was pass interference on Roosevelt late in the 4th??)Yes, you are allowed to grasp at straws, but that was ridiculous. Yes, it was interference on Chris Williams by Buddy Jackson late in the 4th, but again there was mysteriously no flag. I'm not even sure if the Command Centre are watching games or "How I Met Your Mother" re-runs. When fans say it is time to spin the wheel of justice, they may be right,
Perhaps TSN needs to get Kate Beirness doing her best Vanna White imitation when a call goes to the command center so Kate can spin the wheel so all of Canada can see if a call will be upheld or overturned. This endless string of reviews and challenges has to stop. Chris Jones says we have to abide by the rules the league sets out, and at the end of the day he is right, but it is killing the CFL. There is a spot for instant replay, but it has to be done correctly and the CFL isn't doing that. At least, not in my books. Yes, the stripes are getting a bad rap for this, but I can't defend them when the inconsistency is there.
As someone mentioned Saturday, the Riders are within 13 seconds of beating both of last year's Grey Cup teams. How can you not feel optimistic about the future?
LOSEIPEG - Rider fans are optimistic about the future, but down the road in Winnipeg, I have to wonder if Bomber fans are starting to count down the days until they can pile into the MTS Centre to watch Patrick Laine, Mark Schiefele, Blake Wheeler and the Winnipeg Jets. The Bombers performance against Calgary was absolutely horrible-----again! How much longer does Mike O'Shea have? If they lose to the Eskimos this coming week is that it? I have been on record since he was hired as saying Paul Lapolice will be coaching the Bombers by Labour Day, but even Lapo's offence isn't getting it done. After their loss to the Stamps, former Bomber Milt Stegall was bemoaning the fact the team doesn't have a deep threat. WRONG!! Darvin Adams can be that deep threat if someone can get him the ball and right now Drew Willy can't. It's sad when Bo Levi Mitchell has won as many games at Investors Group Field as Willy if you're a supporter of the Double Blue. On Sunday, the Bombers had Matt Nichols taking first team reps as he takes over for Drew Willy. The Bombers will battle an Edmonton team whose head must be spinning after an epic collapse Saturday at Commonwealth. I don't think that's the answer.
MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL---CFL STYLE - The Alouettes and Argos finish off the CFL week with a game at BMO Field. The last game at the Argos new home was a disaster attendance-wise after an opening nite filled with glitz and glamour. The Toronto Indy was said to be a deterrent for those attending the last game, but what will the excuse be tonight? Will the Toronto football fan show up for Monday night football? I am skeptical. I am hoping I'm wrong, but I don't think I will be.
QB CAROUSEL KEEPS SPINNING - 2015 was a bad year for QB's in the CFL as many starters missed a considerable amount of time. The same story is starting to emerge this year. Darian Durant, Henry Burris and Trevor Harris have all been hurt, Zach Collaros is still recuperating from last year's injury and Kevin Glenn missed a game albeit it wasn't for something that happened on the field. One can only hope this comes to a stop in a big hurry as the CFL needs its marquee players under center.
CMON GRAHAM - Many of us in the 306/637 who are fans of golf have more than just a passing interest into the performance of Graham DeLaet on a week-to-week basis. The Weyburn native took time off the PGA circuit this year to try and get a chipping problem under control, but on Thursday at the Canadian Open, he looked like me trying to chip and folks, if that's happening, its not good! DeLaet has always shown he has the tools to win on the tour, but something trips him up in each event he is contending in. With the Olympics coming up, it would be beyond huge to see him emerge as a medallist, but he has to find a way to get this case of the yips under control. His career could be riding on overcoming this problem, A province is pulling for you Graham.
HE DID WHAT?? - Baseball's trade deadline is at the end of the month, and one pitcher contending teams are looking at is White Sox hurler Chris Sale. He may have been scheduled to make his last start for Chicago on Saturday night, but now he may have already made his last appearance in a Sox uniform after what might be one of the most bizarre stories of the year. The White Sox sent him home after he apparently refused to don the 1976 throwback uniforms the team was supposed to wear, saying they were uncomfortable. result, Sale reportedly cut up the jerseys during batting practice and was "upset that, in his view, PR and jersey sales were more important.
This is what those 76 unis looked like, I can't believe a pro athlete would actually do this. Then again, if the Seattle Seahawks ever came out in these babies again, I might Fed Ex a pair of garden shears to Jon Ryan in hopes he would possibly do the same thing.
WORST UNI EVER!!! And yes, that includes the Canucks yellow V jerseys. Sorry Vancouver fans!!
ROLLING THE DICE - The Regina Pats are taking a gamble, but it is one you couldn't afford to pass up. Getting Dawson Leedahl from the Everett Silvertips for a 4th round pick and forward Sean Richards is a good deal for the Queen City Kids. The Saskatoon native fills out their crop of overagers. The question now is can they somehow lure Tyson Jost to Regina. The Canadian Junior A player of the year is committed to North Dakota. You can't blame the kid seeing they are the defending NCAA champs and have had the likes of Toews, Oshie and Parise play there. If the Colorado Avalanche would like him to play major junior, his rights would be owned by the Pats. If he came, chances are the kid wouldn't disappoint. Add him to the likes of Brooks, Steel, Wagner and the rapidly improving Jake Leschyshyn and this team will be ready to make some noise at the Brandt Centre this winter. I am guessing if Jost comes, the "conditional" picks will be high. If he doesn't, they won't be. It is a good deal IMO even if Jost doesn't show up.
JUNIOR - Ken Griffey Junior is where he belongs. The Baseball Hall of Fame!
That's all I got. Have a great week!