View from the booth. Week 3

The Saskatchewan Roughriders are off to a perfect 3-0 start to the 2024 season after a 36-20 victory over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats on Sunday at Mosaic Stadium.

Before we analyze the Riders start, we should take a moment to tip our hats to the entire Roughrider organization. What a classy way to honour former Team President and CEO Jim Hopson! The JH decals on the helmets were first class as was the video tribute and the moment of celebration with the flyover and the introduction of his entire family at field level prior to Sunday’s opening kick-off. I can’t think of a more fitting tribute.

When the ceremonies prior to the home opener were complete on the field, the energy level in the building was off the chart. I didn’t think it couldn’t get any better but with Mr. Hopson looking down the Riders would recover Lawrence Woods III fumble of the opening kick-off burying the needle of the sound meter. Two plays later and Quarterback Trevor Harris would find Samuel Emilus in the end zone for the first points of the game. The Green and White would never look back going on to score a 36-20 victory.

There were a lot of things to be happy with if you are the Riders:

  • The running game looked the best it has all season A.J. Ouellette ran 20 times for 98 yards, most of which came when Hamilton was well aware that the Riders were going to be running the ball.
  • The team continues to cause turnovers. In addition to fumbling the opening kick-off, the Riders intercepted Bo Levi Mitchell three times and recovered another Bo Levi fumble.
  • The defensive secondary was on the same page all game! The busts that plagued the group in Hamilton in week two were very few and far between. The communication and preparation was evident by the Rider’s defensive back end.
  • All receivers continue to contribute. Eight receivers caught at least one pass with rookie Ajou Ajou continuing to show his breakaway ability, hauling in a 40-yard touchdown pass, his first CFL major, from Trevor Harris.
  • Punter Adam Korsak is elite. There is no doubting his leg strength as he can absolutely boom the ball. He also has the ability to change the rotation of the ball in flight to add; distance, difficulty for the returner to catch and control for where the ball will be placed on the field. His work shouldn’t go unnoticed.
  • The Offensive Line with Ryan Sceviour took a step ahead in their progression. Were they perfect? No, they allowed 2 more sacks and a lot of pressure especially on Shea Patterson BUT they worked as a unit and got the run game going with was a priority with weather being a factor throughout the afternoon.

There is some concern though for the team as they enjoy their bye week:

  • Trevor Harris left the game late in the first half and tried to return with a knee brace on his left knee but was held out of the game. We wait with bated breath to learn the extent of the injury and if and or for how long it may keep him sidelined.
  • Marcus Sayles also left the game after one of the biggest collisions I have ever seen live. Fortunately, I was able to see him on his way out of the stadium post game. Let’s hope for a full and fast recovery.
  • Penalties! Hamilton’s offence really looked disorganized and surprised at the adjustment that Corey Mace and the Rider defence made. However, they were able to get some traction and put some pressure on in the fourth quarter after a pair of misconduct penalties and a pass interference penalty in the end zone. All of those penalties extended the drives for the Tabbies allowing them to eventually put the ball in the end zone.

All in all, it has been a solid start to the season for the Saskatchewan Roughriders who now enter one of the most difficult portions of their schedule after the bye week. (vs. Toronto, at B.C., vs. Winnipeg, at Montreal) That said there is room for optimism in Riderville as this team is no where near their ceiling.

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