He was blunt about his team’s disappointing 0-2 start, and the importance of this Saturday’s Week 3 home game against Hamilton (8:00 pm, TSN, 620 CKRM Rider Radio Network).
“It’s nice to hear the support from the fans but at the end of the day, this job is about winning football games. Period,” Murphy said. “You can have all the niceties you want, but none of us are going to be here if that doesn’t start happening.
“You can’t just put it one thing. It was great to go from 21 penalties (in Week 1) down to single digits in Week 2. That was excellent. Having the officials out at practice last week helped. We had 7 or 8 first time players in Montreal and roughly the same last week. It was great to see them play fast, bounce back, and there were some positives there.
“But we’re in the same scenario, similar to last year at this time. That Edmonton game (an OT loss in Week 3) was a very emotional way to lose a game. To be up, be down, come back and take the lead, and then to lose it in overtime, it was very, very similar. You like that they stuck together the other night, and there was no finger-pointing. We were up 17-3 and then went down 27-17, and it could’ve gotten real ugly from there. But I think the bottom line is you have to come out this week with the determination that this is as big of Week 3 game as there’s ever been.
“The bounce back has to happen this week.”
It sounds as though the team will stick with veteran kicker Tyler Crapigna who missed a game-winning kick in Week 1 in Montreal, and another in OT against Winnipeg in Week 2. Waiting in the wings is sophomore kicker Quinn Van Gylswyk, last year’s draft pick out of UBC.
“There’s been other guys who’ve been streaky in this league,” Murphy reasoned. “It’s left an open competition at that position and one that Quinn has clearly closed the gap in. That doesn’t have as much to do with Tyler’s two missed kicks, but with the way Quinn prepared himself in the off-season. He did everything he needed to do. He got stronger, smarter, corrected his punting steps, and you saw somebody in the preseason who was kicking with a lot of confidence.
“I honestly don’t believe those two kicks by Tyler had anything to do with each other, other than that they were both missed. He walked out there early in the game and kicked one close to 50 yards. That seemed to set the tone all game for him until the one he missed at the end of the game.”
Murphy said that despite the team’s error-filled first two games, there’s plenty for this team to build on as they try to notch that elusive first victory.
“You should be confident that you are thisclose to being 2-0 and in a really good spot,” Murphy concluded. “You can take these two games and potentially look back down the road and say those early losses helped us in Weeks 3, 4, 8, and 10. When those things come up again, like when you have a lead, you need to put your foot on them. You can’t have penalties, missed opportunities, dropped balls and missed assignments. If the W’s turn around, you can use those early lessons not as motivators. but to know you have to get out of the quicksand fast.”
The Roughriders return to the practice field Tuesday at 11:00 am at Mosaic Stadium.
We’ll have the latest on the Roughriders on 620 CKRM’s SportsCage at 4:00 pm on Tuesday followed by In The Huddle province-wide on Access at 7:00 pm.