The “not very good” Saskatchewan Roughriders are about to play the “not very good” Hamilton Tiger Cats on Friday evening.
The upcoming game is on Oct. 7
With the Riders at 6-9 and the Tiger Cats at 4-10 neither team is playing well.
While I love Canadian Football League football, it is hard for me to get excited about the game even though it is a meaningful game. The winning team is likely to be the last team into the playoffs. Still with the crossover team, Saskatchewan, having to finish ahead of Hamilton the game is not decisive if the Riders win. Should the Riders lose the game they would become dependent on the worst team in the league, the Redblacks, defeating the Tiger Cats, possibly twice.
I anticipate a close game.
The starting quarterbacks, Cody Fajardo and Dane Evans, go into the game close statistically.
In 14 games Fajardo has completed 69.7 per cent of his passes for an average of 8.4 yards per completion. He has thrown 14 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. He has rushed for 320 yards for an average of 4.3 yards per carry.
In 11 games Evans is completing 68.6 per cent of his passes for an average of 8.3 yards per pass. He has thrown 15 touchdown passes and 13 interceptions. He has rushed for 153 yards with a 3.6 yard average.
Neither has been consistent.
Fajardo is normally better in the second half of games but has faltered in recent games.
Evans had a tough time in mid-season with a bad shoulder. Two weeks ago he had a brilliant performance against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. A week ago he was alright against the Alouettes.
For almost every game Fajardo was under intense pressure. It was startling that the Riders did not give up a sack against the Blue Bombers. (It was a very unusual game in that neither team had a sack.)
Each team lost games in September with late turnovers.
For the Riders it was Fajardo throwing an interception in the Labour Day Classic. For Hamilton it was receiver Kiondre Smith fumbling against Montreal two weeks ago in the final two minutes.
The Riders had a stout defence especially against the run but no longer. They have given up 526 yards on the ground in the last 4 games or an average of 131 yards per game.
Without Garrett Marino and Anthony Lanier II in the middle they are not stopping the run well and the pass rush is average.
Hamilton Spectator writer Steve Milton pointed out after the loss to the Alouettes that in four recent losses to the Alouettes and the Argonauts that the Tiger Cats in the second halves had been out-scored 78-13.
I try not to be sarcastic but, with each team sputtering, I expect Friday night’s game to be decided not by which team plays best at the end of the game but by which team makes the most mistakes in the fourth quarter. If they are about equal in mistakes there is the potential for a tie game.
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.