Skip to content

Selnes: Final game of season about keeping Riders ready for playoffs

It did not matter who won. As long as there were no significant injuries it was alright. That goal was achieved. 
Bill Selnes
It did not matter who won. As long as there were no significant injuries it was alright. That goal was achieved. 

After a season of dramatic games with cardiac inducing finishes, the Saskatchewan Roughriders’ last Saturday’s game with the Tiger Cats had an eerie calmness. 

It did not matter who won on Nov. 20 (The Ti-Cats won 24-3). As long as there were no significant injuries it was alright. That goal was achieved. 

Still it was an afternoon where some things were learned about individuals.

Cameron Jefferson at left tackle meant a scary afternoon for Rider quarterbacks. At best he struggled with pass blocking. At times I was thinking Rider quarterback Issac Harker was thinking he had to plan to evade the defensive end and then look for a receiver. Jefferson’s woes affected the whole line.

On the other hand, Jamal Morrow looked quick and strong and ready to step in as necessary at running back. He made some nice runs and caught the ball well. Should something happen to William Powell, Morrow is ready. He had 41 yards rushing and 29 yards receiving.

It was not a shining game for Harker though protection issues made it a challenge for him. Unfortunately, he did not look ready to take over. As Rider fans already knew, Cody Fajardo needs to stay healthy for the team to have a chance at playoff glory.

On his first interception Harker said it was a poor decision on his part. He rolled away from pressure and his body saw an open receiver but he did not listen to his mind. He said it was a poor decision.

On the second he said the receiver went a little deep on a bender route. He said he should have held the safety a little longer. The receiver was too deep which meant the safety was too close and “made for a recipe for a bad play”.

Quarterback Mason Fine played a quarter. Dickenson described him as looking a bit more comfortable. I do not see him replacing Harker as backup to Fajardo.

Receiver Ricardo Lewis appeared to fight the ball on occasion. He has not developed into the threat expected. It is hard to have a lot of confidence in Lewis.

On defence Garrett Marino is a powerful man at defensive tackle with a huge “but” to his game. Always on the edge he had a pair of roughing penalties. Each reflected an issue with discipline.

Dickenson, without naming anyone, said that the group on defence has a hard time controlling their emotions on game day. He said it takes a long time to get that out of a team. He said he will be talking to the “consistent offenders” and “if it’s close we’ll play someone else”.

They will not beat Calgary if they have three roughing penalties.

At the same time the defensive line played well. Dickenson said “they should be a good bunch as we dress a lot of them”. The Riders had nine defensive linemen for the game. They look ready to go after Bo Levi.

The other unit that stood out on Saturday were the defensive backs.

Nick Marshall and Ed Gainey were clearly making sure they did not get hurt. I do not recall a single play where they wrapped up a Tiger Cat. They had modest efforts to knock over receivers but not to tackle them. Had there been a choice it would have been better had they not played.

Safety Elie Bouka was the Rider player of the day with a pair of interceptions. Neither was a brilliant play but he was where he was supposed to be and ready when errant throws by Dane Evans came his way.

The Riders have a pair of capable backups in the secondary with Bouka and Jay Dearborn.

Special teams were as steady and competent as they have been all season. 

I am confident the Riders will be prepared for the Stampeders on Sunday. With both Calgary and the Riders being good teams I hope there will be a home field advantage.