Roughriders searching for green light inside of the red zone



The Saskatchewan Roughriders 12-11 victory against the Edmonton Elks last Thursday wasn’t pretty, but it was memorable after the Roughriders completed a comeback, trailing 11-3 with just over a minute remaining in regulation.

A dramatic final drive from the green and white offence capped off  the only trips to the end zone of the night when Mitch Picton scored Saskatchewan’s only touchdown of the night, followed up by Kendall Watson hauling in the game-tying two-point convert.

But before the Roughriders pulled out the late game dramatics against the Elks, the offence had struggled to finish off their drives in points, including a scenario early in the contest when the Roughriders had three attempts to convert inside of the Elks’ ten-yard-line but walked away with no points.

Head Coach Craig Dickenson and quarterback Trevor Harris described watching back the film of last week’s win against the Elks as a mixed bag.

Harris feels there were some teaching points from the game footage.

“You watch it, flush it, you learn from it, you got to get better from it.”

Dickenson felt better about his team’s performance after watching the replay of the win.

“When you’re watching the film sometimes you get down on your team, and sometimes you watch the film and you realize we’re not quite as bad as I thought and I think that was the case on the Edmonton game.”

According to Harris, one of the positive aspects of this season is the ability of the green and white team to perform well in crucial moments.

“The great thing is we’re winning the close games, which something that is learned thing, a belief factor, I think we’ve got the team that believes in one another, we’ll get it down late, which is the silver lining in this, obviously we’re not satisfied, we’re going to keep grinding and getting better.”

While succeeding in the crucial moments has helped the Roughriders jump out to a 3-1 record, they will likely need to improve their production in the red zone (inside the opponent’s 20-yard-line) in order for the wins to continue.

After Week 5, Saskatchewan is ranked 6th in red zone productivity with seven touchdowns out of 16 opportunities. The Roughriders and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers are tied with the most possessions inside the red zone (16) but have only registered 66 points inside the opponent’s 20-yard line. BC leads the league with 86 points inside the red zone, followed by the Blue Bombers with 85.

Harris believes the offence is on the verge of increased production. He noted that finishing off drives was a point of emphasis during a meeting with offensive coordinator Kelly Jeffrey.

“We’re going to continue to learn and grow together and obviously that’s going to be a point of interest for us moving forward.”

Dickenson believes execution is the key to turning three points into six points.

“We got to limit turnovers, we got two, and we got to make the play when we need to. ”

According to the Riders Head Coach, it is essential to have a good first-down production, which will enable them to have more manageable second-downs to move the chains. Additionally, he emphasized the importance of improving the team’s time of possession in the upcoming game against Calgary. The coach highlighted that in the previous week’s game, Edmonton had a higher time of possession than Saskatchewan, 37:02 to 22:58.

Saturday’s matchup at home against the Stampeders (1-3) gives the Roughriders a chance to turn the “red zone” into the “green zone” as the offence looks to finish off their possessions, like they finished off Thursday’s game, in the end zone.


Practice Notebook 

  • There was a lengthy list of players who didn’t participate in practice on Tuesday. OT Brandon Council (Finger), DB C.J. Reavis (Leg), Charbel Dabire (Leg), Amari Henderson (Rib) were among the players that were spotted at practice but did not participate. Other players who were out of practice, DL Anthony Lanier II (Leg), DB Rolan Milligan (Back/Foot), Jake Wieneke (Knee), Matt Dean (Foot), Lake Korte-Moore (Leg), DB Kosi Onyeka (Leg), OL Peter Godber (hand), and K Brett Lauther (Leg). Dickenson said after practice the Roughriders were hopeful to get some players back on the practice field on Wednesday and Thursday.
  • One of the new players on the field for Saskatchewan was kicker Campbell Fair, who the the Roughriders signed on Monday. The former Ottawa Gee-Gee was drafted by the Stampeders in the 2023 CFL Draft and spent time in Calgary during the preseason. Dickenson said that both Fair and Global Kicker/Punter Kaare Vedvik are both capable of filling for Lauther.


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