WINNIPEG – The Saskatchewan Roughriders touched down in Winnipeg on noon Friday as they get set to take on the Blue Bombers on Saturday at 12:00 pm Sask Time in Week 18 CFL action.
Here are the quotes from Roughriders Head Coach & GM Chris Jones’ session with reporters at Investors Group Field:
DO YOU EXPECT ANOTHER CLOSE GAME:
CJ: Absolutely. They’re playing some very good football. Over the past three weeks they’re probably playing the best football in the league.
WHAT ARE THEY DOING WELL?
CJ: They seem to be playing with the confidence they had early in the year. He’s getting the ball out of his hands early and they’re playing tremendous defense and special teams.
WHAT’S BEEN GOING RIGHT FOR YOUR CLUB?
CJ: We’ve been fortunate. Our guys show up and scrap around. A different phase has to lift us up every single week whether it’s the offense one week, the defense one week, or the special teams one week. We’re a good football team, we just have to show up with the right attitude.
YOU’VE BEEN HIT WITH SOME INJURIES …
CJ: We’ve got fresh bodies. We took care of ’em this week. It’s only a 5-day week with a travel day. We’ve got some fresh bodies in there to compete for us.
IS OL PHILIP BLAKE READY TO GO AFTER JUST ONE PRACTICE?
CJ: Yeah. We’ve seen that before on the offensive line. When you’ve been around the league as long as I have, you’ve seen where you’d had to inject an older veteran into your offense right away and we fully expect him to not only go out and play, but play well. I think the experience level is something you have to account for. It’s important in all three phases.
WHAT WENT INTO THAT TRADE?
CJ: Blake’s been a guy who’s been on our radar for quite some time. The fact that not only is a great athlete and a great player, but he can play all three positions. He’s got two very smart guys beside him. Labatte, with all his experience, should be able to help him lean on the academic part of it.
WHAT’S SO GOOD ABOUT JEFFERSON AND HUGHES?
CJ: They certainly can affect a football game. All I ask them to do is keep playing hard because they’re going to get a lot of attention. They probably will get a double-team so they’ve just got to keep on rushing. It’s not going to be pretty.
DID YOU EXPECT THIS OUT OF CHARLESTON HUGHES?
CJ: Yeah, he’s a great player. He said when he came over here that he’s going to lead the league in sacks. We’ll see if he actually does that or not.
HOW DO YOU GET YOUR PLAYERS TO WIN THE PHYSICAL BATTLE?
CJ: We’re in the weight room a couple times a week. We very firmly believe in being in the weight room. I told the coaches that it’s not the most important thing to have 5,000 plays this week. The most important thing is that we show up over in Winnipeg on fresh legs. This is our first 5-day week so we’ll have to see how we show up.
IS IT A MENTAL THING?
CJ: I don’t talk a whole lot about the mental aspect of the game. We know it’s going to be a physical battle. They’re gonna hand the ball off about 20 times to #33 and they’re going to run about 5,6 speed sweeps to either #7 or #10. We’ve gotta go out, beat blocks and tackle.
WHAT DID YOU SEE FROM WINNIPEG IN THE PRIOR TO GAMES?
CJ: They got a lot of yards. I think it was 375 yards one game and 380 in the other. Uncharacteristically, they put up some yardage so we’ve gotta come out with a workman-like mentality, put our nose to the grindstone, and go to work.
IT’S GOING TO BE 2 DEGREES, SNOWING, AND A 60 KM/H WIND ..