The Roughriders put in what could be considered their best performance this season against the Toronto Argonauts Saturday night but it still wasn’t enough.
Saskatchewan’s favourite team heads into their bye week at 0-7 following a 30-26 loss to the Argonauts at the Rogers Centre.
“The biggest thing is if we can cut out negative play. Every time we move forward, there’s a negative play right there,” said head coach Corey Chamblin.
“We have to clean that up. Guys got to make sure they have the right mind set when we’re lining up to play football.”
The problem for the Riders on Saturday night was the same problem they’ve been dealing with all season – penalties.
In the first half, the offence took two touchdowns off the board due to penalties. Another penalty also pushed back kicker Paul McCallum causing him to miss a fiel goal. he missed.
What makes the penalties even worse is that the team’s veterans are the ones taking them.
“I’m not sure what their problem is right now. When I look across the board, whether they’re tired or whatever the deal is they need to bounce back and clean things up,” said Chamblin.
The team already led the league in penalties through six weeks. Adding another 24 penalties for 192 yards isn’t going to help either.
“It starts in practice. You got to be working your craft and trying to be better,” said offensive lineman Brendon LaBatte.
“Some of them are subjective. You leave a subjective one out there and put yourself in a bad situation and give them the leeway to make the calls against you and they’re doing it.”
One thing that did go right for the Riders in Toronto is the play of quarterback Brett Smith.
Smith took a big step forward following his CFL debut last week against the Eskimos.
“Yeah, I felt great. I felt more confident,” said Smith.
“Just got to be more consistent with things. (I) want to put together a few more positive drives than I did tonight.”
Smith had the game in his hands with an impressive drive which began with 90 seconds to go. Smith had the Riders deep in Argonauts territory before the final pass of the game was tipped and fell incomplete.
The storybook ending wasn’t mean to be on this night.
However, Smith did show a lot, including one play where he escaped what look like a sure sack, scrambled and found Chris Getzlaf for the touchdown.
Smith finished the night 23-for-35 for 298 yards passing, two touchdowns and an interception.
Those numbers would have been approaching 400 yards and four touchdowns if not for the penalties.
“A young QB like that, you give him a touchdowns early in the game and I think his confidence go sky high. Definitely, I think the penalties are letting him down,” said LaBatte.
For his part, Smith did his best to try and brush those lost plays off.
“Coach and Kevin (Glenn) and Tino (Sunseri) were saying ‘not to get too high not to get too low,’ that’s what I got to do as a young quarterback,” said Smith.
The Argos were hardly angels, taking 19 penalties for 175 yards. Both teams combined for 43 penalties for 367 yards. The CFL record for penalties in a game is 46.
Chris Getzlaf was the Riders’ leading receiver with 80 yards and two touchdowns.
Jerome Messam led the team with 61 yards rushing. Steven Miller had 144 yards in kickoff and punt returns. His number would have also been much higher if not for penalties.
Defensively, Macho Harris and Terrell Maze had five tackles each. Harris, Brandon Tennent and John Chick all picked up sacks. The defence once again failed to create a turnover. Geoff Tisdale did intercept Argos quarterback Trevor Harris, but that play was also taken away because of penalty.
The Riders are now on their bye-week. The team will likely return to practice August 18 before hosting the Calgary Stampeders that Saturday at Mosaic Stadium.