It came as no surprise to anyone in the province of Saskatchewan that the Saskatchewan Roughriders would run over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the first game of the regular season for the defending Grey Cup champions.
We were all expecting it.
What we weren’t expecting, however, was to see an unknown running back by the name of Anthony Allen run roughshod over the entire Hamilton defence.
But that’s what happened. Allen, the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets product who had also spent a season in Louisville where all he did was set freshman rushing records, completely obliterated the Hamilton defence for 158 yards on just 19 carries.
You can’t yet say ‘Kory Sheets who?’ but Rider Nation are most certainly breathing a sigh of relief knowing that, should Sheets succeed in the NFL, the Riders have someone equally as capable in the backfield.
What we didn’t see from the Riders was a quality aerial attack in Week One. But let me tell you this: There is no reason for concern yet.
The Riders aerial assault will be in fine form for the rest of the season. Chris Getzlaf, Taj Smith and Rob Bagg will be their usual stellar selves while newly acquired Brett Swain will become one of Durant’s favourite targets. Actually, I’m confident enough in Swain’s abilities to say that he’ll have a 1,000 yard season and add a Grey Cup ring to his Superbowl ring that he won with the Packers in 2010.
On Sunday Darian Durant and company were being foiled by what ended up being Hamilton’s number one defender: Mother Nature. The wind and rain are the number one reason why the Riders offence did not put up 45+ points.
However Mother Nature was playing for both teams on Sunday. She may have aided the Hamilton defence but she also greatly helped the Riders defence.
If conditions were more favourable then Zach Collaros would have went to the air more often.
The Riders secondary would most likely have feasted, I’ve no doubt about that, but the linemen/linebackers would not have had the 10 sacks that they registered.
Wait… Ten sacks? In ONE game??? Well that’s what happens when one team, let’s call them the Riders, have a mental and physical advantage before the game even begins over another team, let’s call them the Pussycats.
The Riders, due to their relatively easy Grey Cup victory over the Pussycats last November in Regina, had a distinct psychological advantage.
Hamilton had their most recent shellacking haunting their memory and that played into the hands of the Riders.
All Saskatchewan needed to do was hit Collaros early on and get a quick lead and the Tiger-Cats would fold like a cheap tent.
The Riders did and Hamilton folded.
But let’s go back to the 10 sacks. Ricky Foley led the way with three while Derek Walker and John Chick each had two.
Samuel Hurl, Brian Peters and Tearrius George each killed Collaros once.
Now you don’t need me to tell you not to be expecting 10 sacks a game from here on out.
What you should be expecting, however, is to see a completely dominant defence. Think B.C. Lions calibre from a few years ago, except with more ferocious physicality.
I feel extremely confident in declaring that the Saskatchewan Roughriders will repeat as Grey Cup champions, with or without the return of Kory Sheets and Weston Dressler.
And a little tidbit for you, by virtue of not playing a game yet the Ottawa RedBlacks are in first place in the CFL’s East Division.
And if the quality of play doesn’t pick up from Montreal, Toronto or Hamilton they might just stay there.