November 12th, 2015

Saskatchewan Roughriders President & CEO Craig Reynolds updated the media on the team’s General Manager search on Thursday morning at Mosaic Stadium. The full video of the news conference is available at the Riders’ official website

Here are some notes from Reynolds’ comments:

– The shortlist will likely consist of four applicants and current interim GM Jeremy O’Day is expected to be one of them. Ideally Reynolds would like to announce the hiring by mid-December.

– The Riders are using a search firm to help conduct the process. They’ve targeted some candidates and have already interviewed some of them.

– Rumours of potential candidates are to be taken for what they are, and won’t deter the process. Reynolds says they’ve received permission from teams to speak with some candidates while other teams have refused permission.

– The successful candidate will possess strong negotiation skills, personel savvy and the ability to make tough decisions.

– Reynolds says he is not critquing Jeremy O’Day’s performance as interim GM at this point. He said O’Day bares some responsiblity for the 3-15 season of 2015 but the same is true for the 2013 championship campaign. Jeremy will have the opportunity to explain all of that in the formal interview.

– The Roughriders are open to a Head Coach/GM combo since both positions are currently vacant with the club, however it’s a special/unique individual who’s able to do that.

– Prior CFL experience is very important. The Riders have received interest from applicants in both Canada and the USA however if you’re American, it’s imperative that you have working knowledge of the CFL game. The majority of the applicants have CFL experience.

– Reynolds says this is a critical hire, regardless of the fact the team is moving into a new stadium in 2017. The GM sets the vision and the culture of the organization.

– Reynolds says ultimately this hiring is his decision, and he owns it. He is prepared for the criticism which will inevitably follow.

– Reynolds expects to be a very busy man during Grey Cup Week in Winnipeg, but prefers not to hold any formal interviews that week.

– The Rider President said it’s not as critical to hire a “big name” as the team’s next GM, but would rather hire the right guy.

– Should Jeremy O’Day not be named General Manager, the team hopes to retain his services. Reynolds says they think very highly of O’Day, plus he still has term left on his contract.


November 8th, 2015

MONTREAL – Brett Smith came off the bench in the fourth quarter to lead the Saskatchewan Roughriders to a 30-24 overtime victory over the Montreal Alouettes in the CFL regular season finale on Sunday afternoon.

The Roughriders trailed 24-6 early in the fourth quarter when Smith came in and threw touchdown strikes to Ryan Smith and Weston Dressler, as well as a two-point convert.

A botched Montreal play saw John Chick recover a fumble and Smith led a drive that ended with Tyler Crapingna tying the game 24-24 with a 39-yard field goal with eight seconds left on the clock.

Smith hit Dressler with a TD pass in overtime, while Montreal failed to score.

The result spoiled an impressive day for Montreal’s Canadian quarterback Brandon Bridge, who threw TD passes to Tyrell Sutton and B.J. Cunningham. Anthony Boone also ran in a score while Boris Bede had a field goal.

Bridge was the first Canadian to start a CFL game since Giulio Caravatta for British Columbia in 1996. The Missisauga, Ont., product fell short of becoming the first Canadian to start and win a game since Calgary’s Greg Vavra in 1985.

The Alouettes (6-12) and the Roughriders (3-15) did not make the playoffs and used many backups and young players.

Both teams had quarterbacks making a first CFL start, and each had a drive into scoring position nullified by a fumble.

Bridge took Montreal to the Saskatchewan one-yard line on the first possession of the game. Backup Anthony Boone ran in the TD.

Riders starter Keith Price answered with a 32-yard strike to Ryan Smith on the final play of the first quarter.

Both QBs struggled in the second quarter until Bridge hit Cody Hoffman with a 42-yard toss to set up a dump pass that Sutton ran in from the 10 with 35 seconds left in the half. It was Bridge’s first career TD pass.

Montreal’s first possession of the second led to a Bede field goal.

Bridge’s play of the game came 20 seconds into the fourth quarter, when he scrambled away from the rush and hit Cunningham in the end zone with a 48-yard pass.

Brett Smith came on and shredded the Montreal defence on consecutive drives, firing a 40-yard score to Ryan Smith, picking up the two-point convert, and finding Dressler with a nine-yard scoring toss.

Montreal rush end John Bowman had two sacks, including his team record 100th in his career, and a league-leading 18 in 16 games this season.

Sutton passed the 1,000 yards mark and eclipsed B.C.’s Andrew Harris for the CFL rushing lead.


November 5th, 2015

The Saskatchewan Roughrider nominees for the CFL Awards were announced today. This year’s nominees are: Jeff Knox Jr. (Most Outstanding Player, Most Outstanding Defensive Player, & Most Outstanding Rookie), Rob Bagg (Outstanding Canadian), Brendon LaBatte (Outstanding Offensive Lineman), and Dylan Ainsworth (Outstanding Special Teams Player).

First time a Rider rookie has picked up nominations as Outstanding Player and Outstanding Defensive Player…was a unanimous selection for all three awards…has played all 17 regular season games, with 16 starts at linebacker…has established a single season franchise record with 107 defensive tackles; currently ranking 2nd among league leaders…also has registered 10 special teams tackles, two tackles for loss, two fumble recoveries, one interception, one pass knockdown, and one blocked convert…last Roughrider to win CFL Most Outstanding Player was Kerry Joseph in 2007…last Roughrider to win CFL Most Outstanding Defensive Player was John Chick in 2009…last Rider to win CFL Most Outstanding Rookie was Weston Dressler in 2008.

Second career nomination as Riders Most Outstanding Canadian after being previously nominated in 2009…has started all 17 regular season games at receiver…leads team with a career high seven touchdowns – four receiving, three rushing…has 46 catches for 503 yards…added five carries for 14 yards…the last Rider to win CFL Outstanding Canadian was Andy Fantuz in 2010.

Second nomination as Riders Most Outstanding Offensive Lineman…fifth career nomination as he was named Winnipeg Blue Bombers Most Outstanding Offensive Lineman three times… has started 17 regular season games at right guard…LaBatte previously won CFL Most Outstanding Offensive Lineman in 2013.

First nomination as Riders Most Outstanding Special Teams Player…has played all 17 regular season games this season…leads the team with 12 special teams tackles…Corey Holmes won this award in 2002 and 2005.

The players were selected by voting members of the Football Reporters of Canada (FRC) and CFL head coaches.
In this first ballot, FRC representatives from each CFL city plus the respective head coach submitted votes for the six categories. Voters were asked to select players from their local CFL club who, through on-field performance excellence, best represent the awards’ titled – Most Outstanding Player, Most Outstanding Canadian Player, Most Outstanding Defensive Player, Most Outstanding Offensive Lineman, Most Outstanding Rookie, and Most Outstanding Special Teams Player.

The East and West Division winners for the 2015 CFL Awards will be announced on Nov. 12.


October 31st, 2015

CALGARY – A pair of touchdown catches by Eric Rogers helped the Calgary Stampeders to a 42-19 win over the visiting Saskatchewan Roughriders on Saturday.

Joe West grabbed a touchdown throw and backup quarterback Bryant Moniz added a rushing major for the defending Grey Cup champions. Jerome Messam and Marquay McDaniel contributed two-point converts.

Rene Paredes booted four field goals for Calgary, who stayed in contention for first place in the CFL’s West Division at 13-4.

But the Edmonton Eskimos were also 13-4 and can clinch top spot in the division with a victory Sunday against the Montreal Alouettes.

Calgary quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell threw for 247 yards and three touchdowns.

The Roughriders dropped to 2-15.

Saskatchewan’s Anthony Allen ran for a major and Naaman Roosevelt caught a touchdown pass. Roughrider kicker Tyler Crapigna added a pair of field goals.


October 26th, 2015

Saskatchewan Roughriders GM Jeremy O’Day made his weekly radio appearance on 620 CKRM’s SportsCage Monday evening. He discussed a wide range of topics surrounding the 2-14 club, and here are some of his quotes:


JO: As everyone saw, we started out great. The team was fired up and had a good quarter of football (a 21-3 lead) and from there we just weren’t able to continue on, and weren’t able to finish the game. It’s kind of the story of our season really. The positive part about is we’re playing some young guys in some key positions and they played well against the top-rated defense in the CFL. It kind of gave us a glimpse of what it can look like in the future and some of those guys answered the bell as far as their play. Unfortunately we didn’t achieve the main goal which was winning the game, but there were some positives.


JO: The quarterbacks, between the two of them, they completed 75% of their passes which was something that I don’t know if we’ve done all year, and it was against a pressure defense. I don’t know if they pressured us as much as they normally do but when they did pressure us, we were able to catch them in some big plays. It was Keith Price’s first chance in a pro football game and it was heckuva way to start off. Keenan MacDougall got a chance to start at safety and made a lot of plays for us. He put some pressure on the quarterback on the blitz and did well in coverage. He almost had an interception so we felt good about his play. Jeff Knox just keeps making tackles. He’s had a great year and the future’s bright for him.

Naaman Roosevelt made more big plays and got over 100 yards for the first time in his career as a Rider. He seems to be getting better every week. Nic Demski did a good job on punt returns and was solid all the time. And there was steady play from some of the offensive linemen. They did a good job against a very good front four or front seven for Edmonton. They answered the bell and Corey Watman has been solid at centre the past two weeks. There’s a lot of positive signs. Again, it needs to start equating to wins but we’re in an evaluation mode but there are some positive signs.


JO: I think that’s the role of the coaches. I don’t think the GM’s going to need to call a guy in after the coaches have talked to him. He’s got a positional coach and a coordinator that’ll address that. I don’t think that’s my role to call the guys in separately unless it’s something major that needs to be talked about. They’ll coach the players and try to make them better as players.


JO: That’s going to be determined by them and guys, we’re not talking about a very large percentage of players. When you look at our roster and the amount of guys that played, are injured or are on our practice roster, there’s not a lot of guys that fall into that column. I don’t want you guys to focus too much on who didn’t answer the call in practice last week because a large majority of the guys are on the roster.

We went with two young quarterbacks, a young running back last week, we’ll see another one this week. You’ve got Corey Watman at centre, Naaman Roosevelt still needs to get reps, Ryan Smith, those guys will get some reps. On defense, you look at the young Canadians at defensive tackle and in the defensive backfield, the linebackers are all young as it is. There’s not a ton that can be gained this week in practice but we’re not going to just put guys on the field if we don’t think they’re ready to play just to throw them out to evaluate them.

They’re also being evaluated in practice. The game is definitely a different thing but if you’re not ready in practice, it’s hard for us to say you’re ready for a game. And again, there’s not a ton of guys in that boat.


October 25th, 2015

REGINA – Quarterback Mike Reilly rallied the Edmonton Eskimos to their seventh consecutive victory, a 35-24 win over the Saskatchewan Roughriders on Saturday night at Mosaic Stadium.

The Eskimos (13-4) trailed 21-3 early in the second quarter before Reilly and the Edmonton offence hit its stride.

Reilly scored Edmonton’s first touchdown on a five-yard run early in the second. Reilly then hooked up with Adarius Bowman on a 50-yard pass-and-run for a touchdown with less than two minutes remaining in the first half.

The Eskimos took a 24-21 lead into halftime after Reilly found Derel Walker on a 10-yard touchdown pass with 17 seconds to go. Reilly posted 251 passing yards in the first half.

Saskatchewan’s Tyler Crapinga booted a 22-yard field goal at 7:32 of the fourth quarter to snap Edmonton’s run of 32 straight points.

The Riders (2-14), already eliminated from playoff contention, opened the game with two touchdowns on their first five offensive plays. Rob Bagg took an end-around handoff two yards for a touchdown. A 50-yard pass from Brett Smith to Naaman Roosevelt set up the first Riders score.

(The Canadian Press)


October 22nd, 2015

– It was a beautiful fall day for the Roughriders’ final practice of the week Thursday at Mosaic. Saturday they host the Edmonton Eskimos at 5:00 in their final HOME game of 2015.

– I write HOME in all caps because several folks seem to think the season is over after Saturday. There are, in fact, two road games left.

– Riders coach Bob Dyce confirmed both quarterbacks Brett Smith and Keith Price will see action on Saturday. However he declined to say when and how much, and basically said “If I told you that, I might as well show you our game plan”.

– Dyce also said their plan to go with younger players this week was derailed when a handful of those rookies proved in practice they simply aren’t ready yet. When pressed on their identities, Bob wasn’t interested in divulging them.

– However some of the “new faces” you’ll see on Saturday include Keenan MacDougall at safety, Jake Doughty at LB and Chad Spann (#30) at running back. U of S Huskies grad Tim Agbaje appears to be penciled in at defensive tackle.

– There will be some vets sat down for this game and perhaps beyond. Some of them have not taken the news well. Dyce said those were tough conversations and it’s part of the reason why they’ve played the vets so long this season.

– An interesting point was made by Eskimos quarterback Mike Reilly in the media this week. He said the Rider defensive players didn’t change this season but their scheme did.

Food for thought.



October 19th, 2015

In his weekly radio appearance on 620 CKRM’s SportsCage on Monday, Saskatchewan Roughriders GM Jeremy O’Day announced that the club will be making a change in the kicking department for the remainder of the 2015 season.

With the club at 2-13 and eliminated from the playoff race, they’ll be going with newly-acquired rookie kicker Tyler Crapigna for Saturday’s home game against Edmonton and beyond.

Crapigna was acquired from Calgary along with a 3rd round pick in the 2016 CFL Draft in exchange for leading rusher Jerome Messam on Wednesday’s CFL Trade Deadline. That means, barring injury, Rider fans won’t see 23-year veteran kicker Paul McCallum again this season.

“We’re gonna go with Tyler for the rest of the way,” O’Day said. “We had a conversation with Paul and Paul was just a pro. He’s been around a long time and he saw the trades that we made. He understands them. He understands what we’re trying to do for the future so he handled it like a pro. Really, really good by him.”

O’Day said the club has not given McCallum his outright release.

“No you can’t, especially with a guy that’s played a hundred years, you can’t release a guy whenever you want,” O’Day explained. “He won’t be released. He’ll be part of the team. What that role is going forward is yet to be determined but he’s not outright released from the team, no.”

O’Day agreed the best term for McCallum’s status might be that he’s been “de-activated”.

“He’s not going to be inactive for the rest of the games but having said that, if something happens to Tyler, then we have the ability to put him back on,” O’Day stated. “But we were pretty clear that he would be inactive for the rest of the season unless something came up with injuries. Again, it’s not a great conversation you have to have with a player but Paul understands it. He’s been around a long time and it’s happened to him before. He’s had younger guys behind him and when you’re in a situation like we are, it’s always in the best interests in the team to see what you have moving forward.”

After last week’s trade, Crapigna told Calgary reporters that he’s excited to finally have the chance to play after backing up veteran Stamps kicker Rene Parades all season long. The rookie from McMaster told the Riders the same thing.

“Tyler’s just really excited to have that opportunity,” O’Day concluded. “It’s funny — you’d think a guy that’s coming from a Grey Cup contender to a team that’s out of the playoffs would be a little hesitant but he’s been fantastic. He’s excited with the opportunity and is excited to build for the future.”

The Riders hold Day 1 of their work week on Tuesday with an open practice at Mosaic Stadium. Saturday the Riders host the Edmonton Eskimos at 5:00 pm on TSN and the 620 CKRM Rider Radio Network.


October 15th, 2015

Roughriders GM Jeremy O’Day was active on Wednesday’s CFL Trade Deadline Day, dealing veteran quarterback Kevin Glenn to the Montreal Alouettes and leading rusher Jerome Messam to the Calgary Stampeders. The details of the trades are in the posts below.

O’Day appeared on 620 CKRM’s Coaches Show on Wednesday afternoon to discuss the moves. Here are some of his quotes:


JO: More excited just to get everything finished. It’s a little emotional when you’re making these types of decisions so you’re kind of up and down through the whole process not knowing exactly where it’s going to end up. But at the end of the day we felt pretty good about the decisions that we made and what it means for the future of the Riders.


JO: With Kevin, for us, it was a decision that we made based on the future and wanting to see our young guys play. Really we just decided that we didn’t see Kevin being part of our plans down the road so we wanted to 1) make a decision that was good for us but also 2) make one for Kevin to give him the opportunity to go to another team. At that point we were able to get a draft pick back but again the bigger part was that’s the direction we’re going at that position.

With the second trade, again it was a situation where we didn’t feel very confident with bringing Jerome back (he’s due to become a free agent in February). There’s a number of factors that go into that and one is he’s only under contract for the next three games, he’s coming off one of his better years and age going forward is a concern although he’s playing in his prime right now. But it was an opportunity to get a young kicker but to also move up in the draft which is important for us to continue building and developing our Canadian talent.


JO: Eventually you have to make a decision on where you foresee the future of the team and from my standpoint, eventually you’re going to have to start developing quarterbacks and get young. Maybe it’ll be the next Kevin Glenn or the next Darian Durant. Obviously we feel good about Darian’s recovery and where he’s going. We fully expect him to recover but it’s also very important to get a look at our young quarterbacks and we’re excited to see those guys play. We get an opportunity to take advantage of the bad situation that we’re in by giving some young plays the opportunity to play that they normally wouldn’t have had if we were in a playoff run. We’re trying to turn the page and build for the future.


October 15th, 2015

The Saskatchewan Roughriders have traded national running back Jerome Messam and the fifth round selection in the 2016 CFL Draft acquired earlier in the day to the Calgary Stampeders in exchange for national kicker Tyler Crapigna, a 3rd round selection in the 2016 CFL Draft, and the rights to a negotiation list player.

Crapigna (5’7″ – 166) was originally drafted by the Stampeders in the fifth round (40th overall) in the 2014 CFL Draft. The McMaster product graduated as the CIS all-time leader in field goals with 84.

To Saskatchewan:
National kicker Tyler Crapigna
3rd round selection in 2016 CFL Draft
Negotiation list player

To Calgary:
National running back Jerome Messam
5th round selection in 2016 CFL Draft (acquired by Riders from Montreal on Oct. 14)