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“The best revenge is to live on and prove yourself.” -Eddie Vedder
The lead singer of Pearl Jam may be on to something here. With the unfortunate dismissal of General Manager Brendan Taman, and Head Coach Corey Chamblin, this winless Rider team has a lot to prove to the rest of the CFL; they are actually as good as everyone keeps saying they are.
The best revenge on the rest of the CFL, is to win and win a lot to round out the rest of the season.
It has to begin with the Labour Day Classic against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. No matter the outcome Sunday a streak will end. The Riders are winners of the past ten Classics, but are also losers of nine in a row to begin the season.
This is a huge task for interim Head Coach Bobby Dyce, but he has said the right things this week and done many of the right things in preparation for the three-win Blue Bombers. Dyce will allow defensive coordinator Greg Quick and offensive coordinator Jacques Chapdelaine to do their jobs and call the plays. No one has a better grasp on the roster than the former special teams coordinator except at quarterback. That’s where he made another one of his good moves this week both by making Brett Smith his starter early in the week and then sitting down with the young pivot to see what makes him tick.
That gets us to Sunday’s game against Winnipeg. This is a rematch of a week one battle at Mosaic Stadium that saw the Bombers erase an eight point Rider lead late in the third quarter en route to the 30-26 win. With 949 yards of combined net offence, it was the biggest offensive explosion of the season.
It was the only game that the Bombers rolled up over 400 yards of offence this season, but without the injured Drew Willy and with Robert Marve under centre, don’t expect much offensive pop.
A lot of the pressure offensively on the former Miami Hurricane and Purdue Boilermaker quarterback who is in just his second pro season. Marve hasn’t had much success in his two starts this year, both losses, against Toronto and Calgary. Just a shade over 55% completion rate with just one touchdown and three interceptions.
Expect a lot of running back Cameron Marshall, both carrying the ball out of the backfield and catching the ball as well. He has been Marve’s favourite target out of the backfield and also had a pair of touchdowns in the season opener against the Riders.
The key to a Bombers victory is their defence: they need to play well and drag their offence through this game.
The Rider offence needs a bounce back game, and it will be placed into the young hands of Brett Smith. He was pulled late in the second quarter last week in Ottawa and resigned himself to the bench for the rest of the game. His coach has complete faith in him by naming him the starter at the beginning of the week, so the biggest game of the season is in his hands.
Smith has proven he is a play maker and has a knack for extending plays, sometimes to his detriment. He needs to take the next step and just make the easy play and when in trouble, either take the sack or throw the ball away.
Smith needs to get the ball into the hands of the Riders playmakers early. Hand it off to either Jerome Messam or Anthony Allen, or allow his solid group of receivers to get the ball in space and let them go to work.
The only change on offence will see newly signed Jamarcus Hardrick take over at right tackle from Randy Richards.
Defensively will see the most change, most notably in the defensive backfield. Second year defensive back, Matt Webster will make his first ever start at safety; Tyree Hollins is off the injured list and back at corner.
Along the defensive line, Dylan Ainsworth will be put in the rotation a little more to add some flexibility to the import ratio.
This will be the group that has so much to prove with just eight forced turnovers and the worst red zone defence in the CFL.
Fast Facts to get you ready for the Labour Day Classic:
– Riders are third in the CFL with just 18 giveaways this season, the Bombers have just one more giveaway.
– The Riders still have a league best 30 big plays while the Bombers are second last with just 14.
– The Riders are one of the best in the CFL in second down conversions of 7+ yards, converting 44% of the time (55/126).
– Winnipeg has the lowest ranked pass attack in the CFL with a QB rating of just 80.3.
– Both teams have a hard time getting to the quarterback with the Riders picking up just 17 sacks and the Bombers 18.
– This is a match up of the only two Canadian head coaches in the CFL (Riders Bobby Dyce and the Bombers Mick O’Shea). The last time two Canadian head coaches faced each other was October 25th of last season when O’Shea lost to Mike Benevides and the B.C. Lions 28-23.
What to watch for at the Labour Day Classic:
The Riders have you covered on and off the field. Keep checking with riderville.com, download the Rider app, or follow on any of the Riders social media platforms for all of your Green and White information.
We also give you live game day coverage with 90 minutes of CKRM’s pre-game show with Michael Ball and post game coverage of Bob Dyce’s press conference on riderville.com/riderslive.