REGINA - The Saskatchewan Roughriders hope to end a three-game losing skid as they take on the Ottawa Redblacks Sunday at 5 p.m. at Mosaic Stadium.
The Roughriders hope to get back on the winning track after the last three games, which has seen the club's offensive production go downhill in the wake of quarterback Trevor Harris' injury in their fifth game of the season against the Calgary Stampeders.
Since then Mason Fine has gotten the start at quarterback, but he has failed to impress in losses to the BC Lions and then in Touchdown Atlantic against the Toronto Argonauts, games in which Fine failed to record a touchdown.
Making matters worse was when Fine was replaced in the Toronto game by Jake Dolegala, who threw the lone Riders touchdown in a 31-13 defeat.
That has sparked a “quarterback controversy” in Rider Nation all week, with fans debating whether Dolegala should take over as the starter from Fine. But Head Coach Craig Dickenson has continued to voice confidence this week in Fine.
As it stands, Fine is listed as the starter for the game versus Ottawa, with Dolegala the backup along with Shea Patterson. The quarterback position will be one to watch Sunday evening. A rebound performance by Fine could save his starting job, but the knives could be out if the Riders are again kept out of the end zone.
The game already has implications in the CFL standings. Despite their recent difficulties Saskatchewan still holds on to third place in the West with a 3-4 record. A loss, however, would send the Riders into a tie with the Calgary Stampeders, whose upset win this week over the Toronto Argonauts moved them to 3-5 on the season.
The game is also crucial potentially down the road for crossover playoff implications. Both Calgary and Saskatchewan hope to both be in a position to claim a crossover spot in the event they finish fourth in the West -- a situation that could be made more difficult should Ottawa prevail Sunday.
The Redblacks come into the game with a 3-4 record and have shown new life in recent weeks with the strong performance of Dustin Crum at quarterback. But that winning momentum came to a halt at home last week against Hamilton, a 16-12 loss.
Smoke conditions an issue in Regina
A major issue as kickoff time approached is whether the game might end up being impacted by deteriorating air quality in Regina due to wildfire smoke.
According to a statement from the Roughriders on social media: "The Saskatchewan Roughriders are actively monitoring air quality conditions in Regina, alongside the CFL, CFLPA and the Ottawa REDBLACKS, to ensure conditions are safe for our players, coaches, staff and fans."
As of 40 minutes to kickoff, the game is still a go and players for the two teams have been on the field practicing, but the word is that league officials are closely monitoring the situation.
Country Roots night
The theme of the game is Country Roots presented by Young’s Equipment. The game will feature a free giveaway with 5,000 fans receiving a Riders Bandana.
Fans have been encouraged to plan ahead due to the Queen City Ex, which will impact parking in the vicinity of the stadium. A Rider ticket will get fans free admission to the Queen City Ex on game day.
The attraction for the pre-game and post-game concert in Confederation Park is the Canadian rock band and Juno Award winners Finger Eleven.