The Saskatchewan Roughriders held a closed practice on Tuesday for Day 2 of their workweek as they prepare to host the Hamilton Tiger-Cats Thursday night (7:00 pm, TSN, 620 CKRM Rider Radio Network).
The 1-2 Roughriders hope to avoid a third straight loss as they welcome the CFL East Division-leading Tiger-Cats who are off to a 2-1 start.
The Riders will also be looking to stop Ticats quarterback Jeremiah Masoli from making history. The Ole Miss product has thrown for 300+ yards in eight straight games, one off the league record held by Sam Etcheverry and Kent Austin.
“It’s really just noise, ultimately,” said Rider linebacker Sam Hurl. “We’re not really worried so much about them. We’re worried about ourselves and what we need to do to win this game. Ya, that kind of stuff is more for the media and the fans.
“I know we personally are not concerned about that. We’re concerned that we’re lined up right, making the tackles we need to make, and executing.”
Still, Masoli’s hot start (he leads the CFL in passing with 1,045 yards, 4 TDs and 3 INTs) has caught the attention of Riders Head Coach Chris Jones.
“He’s pretty hot,” Jones admitted. “If you’ve looked at the number of yards that they’ve put up and the way they can throw the football, he’s throwing the football into tight windows, he’s extremely confident, he’s moving around, throwing the ball extremely well on the run. He’s hot right now.”
Having said all that, the Jones feels his defense will be ready for Masoli.
“We’ve gotta do a great job of mixing the coverages on him; play a little bit of man and a little bit of zone, pressure him a little bit. The stuff that you normally do,” Jones shrugged. “We’ve gotta understand that they’re going to make their plays. They’re averaging over 400 yards a game so we’re not going to sit there and completely shut a team down. They’re going to make their plays so when they do, we’ve gotta have a strong will and continue to come back and play the next play.”
Saskatchewan had three sacks against Montreal in a 23-17 loss on Saturday night and the team stands tied for third in the CFL sack race with six. Jones seems reasonably happy with the club’s pass rush at this point in the season.
“The other night I thought we got after the QB pretty good,” Jones continued. “We missed a couple of sacks. We had the QB moving around. I thought Willie Jefferson had a really good game, Charleston was solid and #92 played his best game so far.
“I think good things are on the horizon.”