May 13, 2024

Monday’s camp update: Aussie punter Joe Couch furnishes slick kicks and comedic quips

SASKATOON — Joe Couch was pleased to shoot the breeze about the breeze, among other things.

The interview took place after Couch, a Saskatchewan Roughrider for barely a week, was tasked with punting into a formidable wind during training camp on Monday morning at Griffiths Stadium.

“I’ve punted in Oklahoma, which can get pretty windy, but I don’t think I’ve experienced anything like (Monday’s gusts) before,” marvelled the Australian-born Couch, who excelled at Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, Ark.

“It was a good teaching lesson today, for sure.”

And he received full marks, as did fellow incumbent punter Adam Korsak. Placekicker Brett Lauther operated with a side wind or with the breeze slightly at his back.

“It’s funny, because we were talking about it,” Couch said.

“There are times when there will be a quiet period and the wind will die down. You’re thinking, ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah! Snap it, snap it, snap it!’

“But then the coach will be like, ‘Come back! Come back! We need to set something back up!’ Then we’ll snap it and there will be a big gust.

“I guess the best learning thing is just trusting your swing. When you get into a position like that (due to a howling wind), you tend to think, ‘I need to do this … I need to do that,’ whereas if you try to keep it as simple as you can, that’s actually going to work.”

Well … it worked!

“You always want a spiral,” he said after being complimented on the manner in which he handled the wind during Day 2 of Coors Light Riders Training Camp.

“You always want to walk off the field and feel like you’re not going to cry yourself into a pillow afterwards.

“These days make you stronger … and I’m sure I’m going to have plenty of these days, because I looked at the weather and it’s pretty similar.”

The football climate in general agrees with Couch, whose signing was announced by the Roughriders on May 6.

Two days later, the Roughriders opened rookie camp, at which Couch was the sole punter or kicker.

“I was a little bit bored the first couple of days, because it was just me,” acknowledged Couch, who was delighted to be joined on Sunday by Korsak (a fellow Aussie), Lauther and long snapper Jorgen Hus. “As soon as Kors and Brett and Jorgs came into town, it was a lot better.

“I met Kors once before coming here and he and Brett, especially, have let me into the group. We’ve talked and had a few laughs, so I’m very comfortable right now.”

During rookie camp, some time was set aside for punts, but there was only so much he could do when the offence and defence were on the field.

“We had three-hour practices and I can’t ball-drop the whole time or else my back is going to be screwed up,” said Couch, who works closely with Special Teams Co-ordinator Kent Maugeri.

“I was a returner for a couple of drills and then my quads blew up. They got me punting afterwards and I couldn’t hit a spiral. I thought, ‘Well, this is good …’

“Coach Kent said, ‘You might be left-footed, Joe,’ so there’s a lot of funny people — a lot of comedians — here in Sask.”

Couch fits right in, then.

Consider his response when he was asked, lightheartedly, what it is like to be surrounded by all these Canadians and their accents.

“I don’t understand it,” Couch replied. “Why can’t they speak like me?

“Obviously, I stick out a little bit, because I tend to mumble and add three words together. People don’t understand me. I don’t know why.

“So good luck with this report.”


Samuel Emilus (apparently) made a spectacular grab during Monday morning’s workout.

Early in the first no-huddle series, Emilus dove for a Mason Fine pass near the right sideline. A fingertip catch resulted, the only question being: Did the receiver get at least one foot in-bounds?

“It was a catch,” Emilus said.

One-hundred per cent in-bounds,” Offensive Co-ordinator Marc Mueller concurred.

Two defensive players — halfback Rolan Milligan Jr. and strong-side linebacker C.J. Reavis — voiced skepticism.

With an offence-versus-defence debate raging, we searched for an impartial source and were fortunate enough to interact with Digital Media Co-ordinator Morgan Fleury, who happened to be shooting near the spot where Emilus caught the ball and landed.

“I was right there, as close as you can get,” Judge Fleury said.

“It was a catch.”


Corey Mace was asked if any player caught his eye during Monday’s session.

“A lot of guys,” the Roughriders’ Head Coach and Defensive Co-ordinator began.

“Sam Emilus … we’re just talking about the small intangibles — not even the things that he does catching the ball. His understanding of the playbook and that (receiver) position was really cool to see.

“I thought the defensive line really gelled together. Malik Carney has been doing his thing (at defensive end). Micah (Johnson), we’re kind of pushing him more inside at D-tackle, and he did a great job.

“A lot of guys stepped up today. I can’t really point out one or two, to be honest, because there was a bunch of guys.”


Here are “a bunch of guys” who impressed an aging in-house reporter who courageously escaped the wind and watched Monday’s workout from the comfort of the press box.

  • Fine (7-for-8), Antonio Pipkin (7-for-8) and Shea Patterson (5-for-5) combined for 19 completions in 21 attempts.
  • The nicest completion of the day, the Fleury-endorsed Emilus jaw-dropper aside, was a 30-yard connection from Trevor Harris to Jerreth Sterns. Unfazed by the aforementioned wind, Harris hit the receiver in stride with a laser.
  • Emilus was one of five Roughriders with three receptions — the others being Sterns, KeeSean Johnson, Kendall Watson and running back A.J. Ouellette. Ajou Ajou, Geronimo Allison, Shawn Bane Jr., Dhel Duncan-Busby, Dohnte Meyers, Kian Schaffer-Baker and running back Frankie Hickson each had two catches.
  • Ouellette accepted six of the 12 handoffs.
  • The lone quarterback scramble was by Patterson, whose most impressive completion was a 20-yarder to Duncan-Busby on a rollout.
  • Linebacker Antoine Brooks Jr. turned heads with an interception and a diving pass deflection. Defensive back Cole Coleman registered Monday’s other interception.