Revenge is sweet but a win of any sort will do for the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
After a 2-4 start and with five of their next six games against West Division teams, it’s not hard to figure out how important the next third of the season is for the Riders.
With the B.C. Lions arriving at Mosaic Stadium on Sunday, the Riders have that 30-15 loss fresh in their memory from last week’s trip to Vancouver.
The team gave up over 500-yards of offense so the defense has to show some pride and reduce that number drastically.
“We have to play more together,” said Riders linebacker Henoc Muamba.
“We have to play with more confidence, more aggressiveness and that’s been one of the things I’ve been preaching this week.”
The Lions are changing quarterbacks this week after Travis Lulay was hurt in last week’s win over Saskatchewan.
That allows the team’s original number one quarterback, Jonathon Jennings to reclaim the top spot on the depth chart after missing four weeks with an injury. The change means the Riders secondary will be tested deep a little more this week.
“He’s going to look to throw the ball a lot more vertically down the field. He’s got a tremendous arm,” admits Riders Head Coach Chris Jones.
“He’s still got the same escapeability, he’s got the fire, just like Lulay. Lulay is more of the game manager with intermediate type throws.”
For Jones his biggest thing is no longer worrying about the schedule, the standings, or the matchup, it’s just time for his team to win.
“I don’t want to say we’re close, we’re tired of talking about it … It’s time to go out and be about it, that’s kind of been the message all week because we need to go do it.”
On the Riders side of the field, the biggest change is along the offensive line with Dan Clark out for at least six weeks with an arm injury.
Brendon LaBatte moves to centre, Derek Dennis slides inside to left guard, while Bruce Campbell takes Dennis’ left tackle spot. LaBatte said he’s comfortable with the move to the middle but he’s not comfortable with the team’s position in the standings.
“I know what I want to say, but it’s probably not a good word right now,” chuckles the veteran offensive lineman.
“The vibes been in here and we’ve been talking about what we want to do and then we go out there to do it and we haven’t even been close and I think that’s the most disappointing thing.”
Saskatchewan is 0-3 against teams in their division so far this season and that leaves them in chase mode early on in 2017 against a strong division.
Some of the other changes for the Riders this week are along the defensive line as Nick James has been added. The 6’5, 320-pound defensive tackle takes the spot of Zach Minter and adds much more size up front for the Riders defense.
The other changes for the Roughriders on defense is Derrick Moncrief makes his CFL debut at SAM linebacker as Crezdon Butler moves to halfback to replace Chris Lyles. Lyles was hurt in Friday’s practice.
Also hurt in practice Friday was kicker Quinn van Gylswyk. That means Tyler Crapigna is back on the roster after missing last week’s game with an injury.
GAME DAY FORECAST
It’s going to be a beautiful day for football with the temperature at kickoff expected to be around 24 degrees and clear skies. Winds will pick up to around 30 km/h for kickoff.
The B.C. Lions have won their last four trips to Regina. The Lions have never won five straight visits to any Western city.