Hewitt Commentary: Crunch time for the Riders
Saskatchewan Roughriders helmet (Twitter/@sskroughriders)
Will the real Saskatchewan Roughriders please show yourself?
Or have they already? I hope not.
The 1-3 Roughriders will host the 1-4 BC Lions Saturday evening at Mosaic.
In the 2019 CFL West so far, there are two divisions within a division.
The premier division features the Eskimos, Stampeders and Blue Bombers.
The relegation side is composed of the Lions and Roughriders. So which team is the worst on the relegation side?
Well, we’re about to find out over the next two weeks because the Riders and Lions are playing back to backs.
I’m not going to call this a Toilet Bowl so early in the season, but let's face facts, if either of the Roughies or Leos get swept in this series, the swept team will be hard pressed to make the playoffs.
And it’s only mid-July!
Saskatchewan played well against the hapless 0-4 Toronto Argonauts, as have three others teams, otherwise the men in green have yet to play a complete game in this 2019 campaign. By that I mean all three phases executing well, offense, defense and special teams.
Now is the time it must be done.
Both the Riders and Lions are coming off horrible games, BC losing 33-6 to Edmonton while the Riders got pummelled by Calgary 37-10.
Both clubs lost by 27 points.
There were not many positives for either team in those games, they both looked bad, as in real bad.
Okay, maybe I should call this a Toilet Bowl.
Despite this early date, this BC series could define the Roughrider season - if they sweep, they are right back in the thick of it with confidence building.
If they split, we are back to where we began staying on the relegation side.
The projected starters for Saskatchewan on Saturday night average over 28 years in age, so for many veterans, there is a lot on the line.
Enough of the negatives, I want to put away my toilet brush, let’s look at the positives for the Roughriders.
The coaches have had more time to figure out what QB Cody Fajardo does best, there is now more data, so I’d guess a decent amount of roll outs in the passing department.
BC pivot Mike Reilly makes $700,000 per season so why should there be any pressure on Fajardo? The pressure is on “big bucks” Reilly.
No doubt the green bodies needed a rest, with bumps and bruises nicely healed.
Middle linebacker Solomon Elimimian had some rust to knock off in the last game, and should be better with a tilt under his belt.
Elimimian and receiver Emmanuel Arceneaux were both chopped by the Lions, and these are proud men, so there will be a lot to play for to prove BC GM Ed Hervey dead wrong.
Arceneaux practised with Fajardo last season in Vancouver so Cody’s comfort level with where Emmanuel will be (on the field) is a big plus.
Injured QB Zach Collaros is back in town, his added input will help Cody.
The Roughriders badly lost the battle of the trenches against Calgary, I can’t see that happening this time.
Rider defensive coordinator Jason Shivers has had more time to look at video - that in itself will help.
Roughrider head coach Craig Dickenson has also had extra time to make some of his own adjustments, as he evolves into a better head coach.
Plain and simple the Roughriders are nicer guys than the Lions.
The Gainer the Gopher controversy is finally over.
This lifts a huge dark cloud over pretty much nobody.
Don Hewitt started covering the Saskatchewan Roughriders for CKCK-TV in 1979.