A new version of the Royal Canadian Air Force is set to take flight for the Saskatchewan Roughriders today.
Kian Schaffer-Baker, Justin McInnis, and Mitchell Picton will all be lining in the Riders starting receiving lineup when the green and white host the Montreal Alouettes.
One reason for the three Canadians starting at receiver, is the injury to Canadian defensive back Nelson Lokombo. Amari Henderson will draw into the lineup at halfback with Jeremy Clark moving to cornerback.
It would be unreasonable to expect the current Riders to produce like the 2010 edition of the Royal Canadian Air Force did against the Alouettes on July 1 of that year. Andy Fantuz, Rob Bagg, and Chris Getzlaf combined for 15 receptions, 266 yards ands three touchdowns as the Riders beat the Alouettes 54-51 in OT, in a game many CFL fans would call an instant classic.
Schaffer-Baker, McInnis and Picton will be expected to provide some of relief for Duke Williams in Saskatchewan’s receiving core on Saturday against the Alouettes.
Balancing the Canadian ratio is something Riders Head Coach Craig Dickenson enjoys as a CFL Head Coach. ” I was talking with Jeremy (O’Day) the other day and I said what would it be like to just dress your best 45 or whatever and not have to worry about nationality and the reality is we still feel we are dressing our best 45 but you have to play with a certain number of Canadians, that’s great, that’s why they call it the CFL and I think how you structure your ratio really shows what you believe in as coaching philosophy wise and how you draft and develop.”
The green and white pass rush will be looking to rebound after a quiet game in Montreal. The Riders exploded for 13 sacks in the first two weeks of the season but only responded with a pair in the first matchup against Montreal.
Defensive lineman Anthony Lanier says the Alouettes adjusted to the Riders defensive scheme. “They put their offence around the defensive line, kind of going to the quick throws trying to get the ball out of the quarterback’s hand because they can feel the pressure.”
Pressure from the defensive line has been one of the consistent things Saskatchewan has established in the 2022 season with 15 sacks through the first three weeks. Lanier says it’s driven by the competition within the group. “We put each other on that pedestal and say I expect for you to do better than I do and it’s almost like a conservation every time we out on the ball it’s I bet I get there before you do.”
With a full week of preparation leading up to today’s showdown, the Alabama A&M product says the key for the Riders to pull out a victory is executing the coaches game plan. “They do what they need to do to get us ready, we do what we need to do to get our bodies ready and once you put those together and everything’s gelling, I’m scared to see what it would be”
For the final time of the 2022 season, the Saskatchewan Roughriders will meet the Montreal Alouettes. Countdown to Kickoff begins at 2:00 on 620 CKRM, opening kickoff is 5:00.