Both the Saskatchewan Roughriders and Ottawa RedBlacks held their day-before walkthroughs on Saturday prior to Sunday’s 2017 CFL Eastern Semifinal at TD Place Stadium (12:00 pm Sask Time, TSN, 620 CKRM Rider Radio Network).
Here are some notes from the pregame news conferences:
RIDER COACH CHRIS JONES
– We’re going with the healthiest bodies at tailback so Kienan Lafrance will be play there but we’ll also have an American (Marcus Thigpen). There’s going to be a lot of different personnel packages and that’ll be up to (Offensive Coordinator) Stephen McAdoo how he wants to utilize them.
– Marcus Thigpen is a very explosive athlete. We tried to defend him years ago when I was with Calgary and he hit us for three big ones. I’ve seen it firsthand.
– We need to come out and play solid football. In the most recent game against Ottawa, we gave up too many explosions. Trevor Harris came out and did a good job of hitting us. We need to do a great job of defending their run. In the game here, Powell ran up and done the field on us. They’ve got a very good offensive team. We’ve gotta take care of them and in the other two phases we need to stay on the field offensively and put points on the board, and contain #85 on special teams.
– It’s not like they’re gonna have, 9,000 new plays. They’ll do what they do well and go to the well with it. Rick Campbell does a great job of doing what they do, real well. I don’t expect a whole lot now. But there will be a wrinkle there or two.
– Naaman Roosevelt is one of the best receivers in the league but also one of the best teammates that I’ve been around. He’s a worker. He brings great leadership to our team so we welcome him back.
– The history of the crossover is for y’all to debate. It’s one of those deals where, regardless of where we’re playing, we’re trying to give ourselves an opportunity to play next week.
– We’ve carried forever the idea of wanting to take the football away from their offense and when we do that, we’ve had success. When the opponent doesn’t turn the ball over, it’s harder to win those football games. We try to stress taking the football away.
– If we need Duron to play defense, the good thing is, you don’t have to dress an extra American DB on your roster if you have a guy on offense who can do that. Christion Jones is the same way.
– Chad Owens is a consummate professional. He’s won a lot of football games, been on winning teams, and his leadership and toughness heading into the playoffs will be valuable for us.
REDBLACKS COACH RICK CAMPBELL
– We paused our walkthrough at 11:00 am to observe the moment and recognize the sacrifice that people have made. I thought it was important for our players and coaches to hear what this day is, what it’s about, and why we should recognize that. We need to be thankful to live in countries where we have this type of freedom. We need to recognize the people who paid the ultimate sacrifice.
– It’s helpful that we have a large group of guys here who’ve “been there, done that” and played in big, and close games. If you look at the playoff games here and the Grey Cup last year, those were a big stage and tough games that came down to the wire. You hope that if it comes down to the fourth quarter that the moment isn’t too big and you make enough plays to win the game.
– Our guys have been good about focusing on the here and now. We know these will be a big few weeks here in Ottawa and they’re building the stands for the Grey Cup. We’re not naive. We know what’s happening. Our guys are smart enough to know that if you look too far down the path, you might trip on something that’s right in front of you. We know the future is the future and the past is the past. We’re doing our best to live in the present. It’s literally the old saying of one step at a time.
– Turnovers are a telling stat in a game. We need to improve on that. The last game of the year against Hamilton, we were -5 and won the game. But you don’t want to do that. The good news is when we can find a way to win a game in that situation but that’s not going to happen all the time. We need to create some momentum-changing plays. We were 7-3 in our last 10 games and a big reason is we found a way to make those plays.