The Saskatchewan Roughriders should never be favoured to win a game.
Sept. 15’s 36-27 loss against the Edmonton Elks had a greater impact than the blowout loss in the Banjo Bowl. The Riders could and should have defeated the Elks (had to re-write the name as I was so used to Eskimos). After the game I went to hear from the Elks and, by the time they were done, there was no time to talk to the Riders. I just caught the end of Riders Head Coach Craig Dickenson’s comments.
The Riders lost because they could not cope with Tre Ford. Just as a year ago they could not cope with Taylor Cornelius at quarterback running the ball, Tre Ford took over the game.
What was evident on numerous plays was that the Riders underestimated his speed and his quickness. He is as shifty as he is fast. Edmonton Head Coach Chris Jones said Ford ran a 4.41 for the 40 yard dash and had a 40” vertical at the university combine. A 4.41 is wide receiver speed.
Ford said he is good at running around like playground football. There were too many times he extended plays by evading Riders and improvising. Jones says Ford never gives up on a play.
The most prominent was his 30 yard touchdown pass to Geno Lewis when the Elks were 2nd and 17. He said when he is running around he tells the receivers to keep moving and Lewis listened finding an open spot on the goalline. Jones praised Ford for keeping his eyes downfield while he was avoiding Rider rushers.
Ford said he likes to go through his reads. At the same time he goes with his gut.
A reflection by Ford that showed not all is instinct for him was his winning touchdown run from the 10-yard line. He said they were running an option route and he was on his second read when he said he saw a giant hole to his left and said to himself it is a free 6.
He felt he was a little inconsistent earlier in the game and referred to the interception when he lofted a screen pass too high and it went off his receiver’s hands to C.J. Reavis.
Ford said on run / pass option plays he was getting the Riders focused on chasing him.
He described running back Kevin Brown as a dog and the offensive line as fantastic.
Ford said he saw a lot less spying of him by the Riders and then corrected himself to say he was not sure they even spied him once.
While the Riders may or not have spied, the rushers were hesitating more and more as the game went on trying not to get caught going past him.
The hesitations helped Kevin Brown gain 175 yards on the ground. He said he had gained over 200 yards in a game during high school.
He also showed a burst of speed that caught the Riders as he went around the right side for a 35 yard touchdown run. He said he was going up the middle but it was not open so he got outside as fast as he can and saw Geno out there blocking for him. He said once he saw the block no one was catching him.
Jones said the Riders had a pretty decent plan for defending the Elks but it is hard to spy on one guy.
It was interesting listening to Ford. He was almost giddy with joy. His answers flowed and were not player speak cliches. Even if they had lost I do not think he would have been as terse as Vernon Adams saying he had to see film to comment on plays gone wrong.
The Elks were just enjoying victory, not talking about the playoffs.
Coach Dickenson was left talking about having hopefully good practices this week and challenging the team to see who is willing to work and put in the work needed to win.
Hopefully they are ready for the second fastest and shiftiest quarterback in the CFL in Dustin Crum. Hoping is far from a good sign for the Riders.
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.