REGINA – The Saskatchewan Roughriders held their final full practice of the week on Friday as they prepare to host the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in Sunday’s 2018 CFL Western Semifinal Final (3:30 pm, TSN, 620 CKRM).
Here are the post-practice comments from Head Coach & GM Chris Jones.
BRANDON BRIDGE TOOK A LOT OF REPS TODAY
CJ: He took a lot of reps. We’ve got both guys preparing to play.
IS ZACH COLLAROS STILL YOUR STARTER?
CJ: You guys place way too much emphasis on that. We’re gonna prepare both guys like they’re going to play and we’ll see who plays.
HOW’S ZACH’S HEALTH?
CJ: He’s doing well.
DO YOU KNOW WHO WILL START AT QB?
CJ: You know what? We’re preparing to have a professional football game and we’re trying to make sure that we’ve got ample people ready to play in case of different situations.
BOMBERS LB ADAM BIGHILL WAS A BIG THORN FOR YOU LAST GAME
CJ: He’s a big thorn in everyone’s side all the time. He’s one of the best football players in the league. You’ve gotta block him. He’s a guy that can play in the middle of the defense and make plays sideline to sideline. Richie’s done a good job this year of matching him on backs this year and getting him in match-ups where he can use his blitzing ability. He really didn’t do a lot of that over in BC but now that they’ve utilized him, they’ve realized he’s got a strength in doing it.
IS ANDREW HARRIS A BIGGER THREAT AS A RUNNER OR RECEIVER?
CJ: Equal. You can look at his stats and see. He can catch the ball and run the ball, and one of his biggest strengths is his ability to run after contact. His yards after contact are some of the best I’ve ever seen. Lapo does a great job of moving all his guys around, including #33. He can catch the football vertically down the field as good as anybody.
YOUR GUYS HANDLED THE WEATHER WELL TODAY
CJ: Yeah. I’m about sick of talking about it. It’s cold on both sides. Just like when it rains, it rains on both sides. It comes down to execution. There’s no foolproof way. Like I told them the other day, we never went outside with Don (Mathews). Never. One little drop of water hit the ground, it was over. We’re going inside. The least little bit of cold, we would never be outside. We had pretty good success with the Alouettes back in the day.
In Edmonton, we utilized the indoor facilities a lot. Over in Calgary, we won a lot of games there and never went inside with Huff. We were outside all the time. There’s no foolproof way of doing it.
WERE THE LAST TWO DAYS OF PRACTICE TO BUILD MENTAL TOUGHNESS?
CJ: It’s going to be interesting seeing exactly how well we handle everything. Not just the cold, but the pressure of the playoffs, all the people in the stands and everything that goes with a playoff game.
HOW IMPORTANT IS PLAYOFF EXPERIENCE?
CJ: It’s critical. We’ve got enough good, solid veterans that have played in those types of games with Labatte, Blake, Rob Bagg, Naaman, and Willie Jefferson. You can keep going. We’ve got a got mix of older guys and youth.
If you have enough veterans, you don’t make so many mistakes that it’s insurmountable. It comes down to execution in all three phases and having the veterans limits those.
DOES THE 31-0 LOSS AT WINNIPEG FACTOR INTO YOUR PLANS?
CJ: When you get beat that soundly, we’ve played them three games this year. We’ve focused a lot on what we’ve seen from them the past three weeks, but also our games.
HOW MUCH WORK IS LEFT BEFORE THE GAME?
CJ: The hay’s never in the barn. It’s one of those deals where we, on game day of last week, we saw some things on BC where we could hurt their run game and try to pressure their QB with interior twists. We kind of fell upon that on game day.