Down to the Wire: Roughriders discovering valuable lessons with close games



Every second of the 2023 Canadian Football League regular season has been crucial for the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

Outside of their week 2 45-27 loss to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, the Roughriders four remaining games have been decided by a combined ten points, with Saskatchewan emerging with wins in three of those matchups.

Each of those close calls for the Roughriders has come against divisional opponents. On Saturday, Saskatchewan will wrap up their opening stretch of six straight games to open up the year against Western rivals when they travel to Vancouver to meet the BC Lions (4-1).

Offensive guard Logan Ferland notes that the toll of being involved in close games starts to accumulate for the team.

“It adds a different level of exhaustion when you’re just finishing at the end, we have to do a better job of taking away opponents in the first half.”

Ferland’s comrade at guard Evan Johnson believes the team is discovering valuable lessons with each close game.

“It’s just a matter of trying to find a way to win.”

The Roughriders left guard felt last week’s loss to the Stampeders provided the green and white a teaching point for them to work on.

“We just have to figure out adversity especially on offence, we have to find our rhythm even when we are struggling.”

Running back Frankie Hickson noted the injuries and the close encounters the Roughriders have experienced this season are the necessary obstacles that teams have to overcome at some point.

“That’s the game of football, I don’t think any team in any season has ever made it completely free without injury, that’s never happen, it can’t happen, this is  a violent sport, it’s a tough game, it’s about who can through the mountain tops, the valleys and still be standing at the end of it.”

Unlike the Roughriders, the BC Lions have not been in any close games in 2023. The Lions averaged an 18-point differential in their four victories, while their only loss was a 45-24 score to the Toronto Argonauts.

Head Coach Craig Dickenson thinks the Roughriders close encounters will pay off soon enough.

“It really sharpens us, forces you to really focus on the details, I think it helps you as a coach, cause you’re coaching in tight games and you’re going over scenarios. ”

Saskatchewan hopes those dividends occur sooner rather than later.


Practice Notebook

  • There wasn’t much change to the injury front on Wednesday. Defensive linemen Pete Robertson and Charbel Dabire were full participants after being limited on Tuesday.
  • Centre Peter Godber observed practice putting his status for Saturday’s matchup against his former team. Brandon Council did practice for the second straight day at left tackle.
  • Kicker Brett Lauther didn’t practice for the second straight day, Dickenson said after practice that despite being missing the first two days of practice this week, Lauther will be kicking for the green and white on Sunday.
  • The Roughriders acknowledged the passing of former President Fred Wagman. He was the President of the Roughriders 1996-97 and was a one of the key figures that helped the football team through some troubled times financially. Wagman was 86.

Photo: Sask. Roughriders

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