Hewitt Commentary: Roughriders ready to take on the Stampeders
Saskatchewan Roughriders quarterback Cody Fajardo (7) is pulled down by Calgary Stampeders defensive end Chris Casher (96) during first half CFL action in Regina on Saturday, July 6, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Matt Smith
REGINA -- Friday night TSN is in for a good ratings hit. Guaranteed. The Saskatchewan Roughriders play in Calgary with first place on the line. Interest, especially in the west, will be strong.
The Riders draw the largest audiences on TSN, nationwide, week in and week out, while the Stamps are the defending Grey Cup champs. All the ingredients are there for a game which could top 700,000 TV viewers.
Here’s hoping, because that would be good for the CFL.
Both 10-4 Saskatchewan and 9-5 Calgary are better clubs at home.
The Riders are 7-1 while the Stampeders are 5-2. The 9-6 Blue Bombers are 6-1 on home turf.
With that in mind, being able to host a playoff game is much preferred.
The Roughriders blew their home playoff game last year, but that was because the club played without a quarterback.
Because of an earlier Stamp shellacking in Saskatchewan, barring a 28 point (or more) Rider victory Friday, the jolly green giants will have to finish with more points than the Horsemen in order to finish first.
A Saskatchewan victory at McMahon would give the Green Machine a two-game cushion atop the CFL West, while a Rider loss would put the Stamps in first because a tie in points favours them.
Oh yes, the old four-point game.
Too bad linebacker Cam Judge will be unable to play due to a concussion suffered against Winnipeg. Judge has enjoyed an outstanding season in 2019, and should be a shoe-in for Saskatchewan’s Canadian Player of the Year.
Cam will be replaced by the rotating duo of Micah Teitz and Sam Hurl, both former U of C Dinos.
In my last column I wrote about the improved job the 2019 Riders are doing in player development. Look for Teitz to do well. He’s big, he’s hungry and he’s playing in his hometown.
The Stampeders will be missing offensive lineman Derek “Bonecrusher” Dennis and defensive back Jamar Wall - so neither team is 100 per cent healthy.
I wish all players had nicknames.
Many a defensive coordinator has gone down swinging matching wits with Calgary offensive genius and head coach Dave Dickenson.
Rider defensive coordinator Jason Shivers is ready, and will be throwing as many wrinkles as possible against Stamp star pivot Bo Levi Mitchell.
Shivers studied the game film from last week, when the Alouette defence stymied Mitchell on more than one occasion.
Why do we still use the term film?
Film went out with Joe Faragalli, whose wife made the best spaghetti I have ever tasted.
Joe was such a marvellous man.
Saskatchewan’s biggest asset is their team unity. They’ll need it on the road. I believe we will see that unity on the McMahon turf.
Having said that, Calgary is still mad about the loss in Montreal, and will be a very difficult opponent.
You need pride to be a winner, and both teams have a ton of it.
That’s why it’s the battle of the best in the west.
Let’s hope we see a lot of Manny’s big play chain.
Let’s hope we see none of that very annoying horse.
Don Hewitt started covering the Saskatchewan Roughriders for CKCK-TV in 1979.