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Selnes: Hard to see how to stop slide for Sask. Roughriders

In professional football teams are rarely static. They are getting better or worse, said columnist Bill Selnes. The Riders are on a downward slope and it is hard to see how the slide can be stopped.
Bill Selnes
Columnist Bill Selnes' low expectations for the Oct. 7 Saskatchewan Roughriders-Hamilton Tiger Cats game were met.

The “not very good” Hamilton Tiger Cats defeated the worse “not very good” Saskatchewan Roughriders last Friday evening 18-14. My low expectations for the game were met.

The Oct. 7 game where the basic statistics relating to the offensive and defensive lines decided the game.

There were seven more sacks added to the Riders league worst sack totals. The Riders have now surrendered 66 sacks. They are giving up just over four sacks per game.

I thought the Rider offensive line would be bolstered by the three returning linemen but their presence made no difference.

On the other side of the ball the Riders had one sack to put the season total at 39 sacks or 2.4 sacks per game.

What is most striking for the pass rush is the absence of sacks from the line. In the past two games they have not recorded a sack. On Friday the only sack came from linebacker Darnell Sankey.

The Riders ran the ball but 10 times for 29 yards. The newest Rider running back, Shaq Cooper, had seven yards on five carries.

Going into the game the Riders, despite the perception they are reluctant to run the ball, were actually thirdin the league with an average of 103.6 yards per game.

With Cooper the fourth starting running back I could understand some of the Rider running woes. At the same time I was seeing little room for him being created by the line.

Hamilton rushed 31 times for 136 yards averaging over four yards a carry. 

On defence the Riders had been sixth in the league giving up 97.9 yards a game. What was discouraging was the Riders knew Wes Hills was coming at them and they could not stop him.

Jason Maas has been taking the heat for the Rider offence. It is time there was concern over the other “Jason” co-ordinator, Jason Shivers, for the Rider defence.

As to crucial plays Shaq Evans dropped an easy pass to kill a drive in the fourth quarter that would have given the Riders a real chance at scoring in the second half. The best receivers on good teams are not dropping that pass. It was his second drop of the game.

The final Rider offensive play saw Cody Farjardo throw high to Kyran Moore. While Fajardo makes no excuse I thought he was facing pressure yet again on the play.

In professional football teams are rarely static. They are getting better or worse.

The Riders are on a downward slope and it is hard to see how the slide can be stopped. I am reminded of the 2021 B.C. Lions. They had a great quarterback in Mike Reilly but he took a beating all season long behind a bad line. They lost seven games in a row before winning a meaningless game to end the season over Edmonton. 

Sankey said after the game “All we can do is pray.” Unfortunately, losing teams get few sprinkles of Jesus.

Bill Selnes, who’s based in Melfort, has written about the Saskatchewan Roughriders since the late 1970s. He was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame, Football Reporters of Canada wing on Nov. 24, 2013.

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