Many Saskatchewan Roughriders fans are optimistic despite their 0-2 start. After a toe-to-toe battle with the upstart Ottawa Redblacks, the Riders offence was clicking on cylinders, the problem was, they were trailing the entire game. Fajardo gave fans a reason to believe after posting impressive numbers of 27/34 completion, 360 yards, two touchdowns to zero interceptions.
— TSN (@TSN_Sports) June 21, 2019
It’s the most balanced the Riders offence had looked in years. Marcus Thigpen and William Powell combined for 20 carries for 102 yards and two touchdowns. Fajardo added one of his own as well. Whether it was because the team was trailing at key points during the game or if that was the gameplan going in, it’s the best this Saskatchewan offence has looked in a while. However, as good as Fajardo was, Dominque Davis and the Redblacks offence was even better. Rider fans witnessed one of the more poor performances from this defence in a number of seasons.
Here are some key things to keep an eye on for Canada Day’s tilt between the Argonauts and Roughriders.
Toronto Argonauts Offence
The Argos, on the other hand, is coming off an embarrassing loss in their home opener to their vaunted rival Hamilton Tiger-Cats. A 64-14 spanking was not how Corey Chamblin and company imagined their season kicking-off. It’s hard to point to one particular section of the team that a fan could pin the loss on, the Argos were severely outmatched in all three phases of the game.
James Franklin was 16/26, 211 yards and an interception. By no means horrible but obviously not enough to keep up with a potent Hamilton offence. On the other hand, the Argonauts failed to get any traction in the run game. James Wilder Jr. had just 12 yards on six carries and Chris Rainey never had a carry or reception. For all the hype surrounding the depth at that position this off-season, there simply weren’t enough looks to those two players last game.
If Franklin is going to get comfortable in this offence, Jacques Chapdelaine will have to lean on playmakers such as Wilder, Rainey, SJ Green, Derel Walker and Armanti Edwards.
Saskatchewan Roughriders Secondary
All eyes will be on Nick Marshall and how he responds after being picked on by Dominique Rhymes in Ottawa a little over a week ago. The Riders have no shortage of big names in their secondary from Ed Gainey to Loucheiz Purifoy and Mike Edem. It’ll take a collective effort to ensure Franklin doesn’t have a bounce-back game. As previously mentioned, the Argos boast their own weapons on the offensive side of the ball, it’s a matter of execution on their end.
Derrick Moncrief and Cameron Judge will also be vital in ensuring the Argos don’t get too creative with their stable of running backs. If the front four can generate a pass rush like last week and produce four sacks again, perhaps this won’t have to be the nailbiter that many fear it may be.
Both the Argos and Riders struggled to contain their opponents return game in Week 2. Brandon Banks made Toronto pay for a missed field goal at the start of the fourth quarter while Ryan Lankford of Ottawa had four punt returns for 100 yards and five kick returns for 95 yards, with 42 and 36-yard returns included in each of those respectively.
— TSN (@TSN_Sports) June 22, 2019
While Brett Lauther has been nearly automatic for the Saskatchewan Roughriders since taking over, it’ll be key for the Riders to keep contain on kickoffs and punts. The Riders can ill-afford to give a desperate Argos team any momentum in this phase of the game. Field position will play a big factor in how Saskatchewan’s defence responds.
Matchup to Keep an Eye On
Micah Johnson versus first-overall pick Shane Richards
Richards will face one of the most difficult tests of his career, in just his second game. Johnson has yet to hit the stat sheet with sacks but he’s been key in opening up the lanes for Charleston Hughes and A.C. Leonard who had a combined three sacks last week. It remains to be seen if Toronto will keep an extra running back to help protect Franklin however, look for the Riders to generate significant pressure if Richards can’t hold his own against Johnson.
Happy Canada Day Weekend
From everyone here at Last Word on Canadian Football, enjoy your time with friends, family and football! Make sure you’re following us on Twitter and Facebook for all our latest articles, analysis pieces and predictions!
Main image credit:
Embed from Getty Images