CFL Preview - Saskatchewan (1-0) at Toronto (0-1)
From The Sports Network
By Gregg Xenakes, CFL Editor
DATE & TIME: Saturday, July 5, 3 p.m. (ET).
GAME NOTES: As was the case in the Grey Cup last year, the Saskatchewan
Roughriders had their way with Hamilton in the season opener last weekend, and
now the team is tasked with taking on the Toronto Argonauts this Saturday
afternoon at Rogers Centre.
Last November the Roughriders barely got their hands dirty as they mangled
Hamilton in the title game, 45-23, and on Sunday night the reigning champs
experienced similar success in the rematch as they cruised to a 31-10 home
There were many aspects of the game in which Saskatchewan excelled, but the
most notable area was with its pressure on quarterback Zach Collaros. Under
heavy rain, Collaros had limited time to gain his footing and find open
receivers, but to be sacked 10 times is still incredible. Leading the way for
the Riders was defensive end Ricky Foley, who made a total of six tackles,
three of those on Collaros in the backfield.
Last season, Saskatchewan ranked third in the league in sacks with 57, so they
are already off to a tremendous start in that department. It should also be
noted that Hamilton was the weakest club in the league in terms of holding off
would-be sackers, allowing 65 takedowns of signal-callers.
For his efforts, Foley was named the Defensive and Canadian Player of the Week
for Week 1. Because of the constant hitting under less than ideal conditions,
the Tiger-Cats fumbled four times and lost possession twice.
On the offensive side of the ball for the Riders, quarterback Darian Durant
orchestrated a decent effort, converting 15-of-22 passes for 136 yards and a
couple of touchdowns, but the real story was new running back Anthony Allen.
Saskatchewan figured to have a huge hole to fill in the backfield with the
departure of Kory Sheets, the league's second-leading rusher a year ago (1,598
yards), as he made the move back to the NFL to join the Oakland Raiders, but
Allen seems to have turned more than a few heads with his hard-nosed play
coming out of the gate.
Allen carried the ball 27 times for a game-high 158 yards, dwarfing the
efforts of the entire Tiger-Cats rushing attack which managed to produce a
mere 42 net yards. Allen, who crossed the goal line on a one-yard run in the
second quarter, also caught a two-yard pass for a major earlier in the
While the Roughriders were again whipping up on Hamilton, the Argonauts were
the ones taking a beating at the hands of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in the
season opener last Thursday night, 45-21.
On paper, Toronto should have easily handled the hosts, but that's why they
actually play the game. Ricky Ray, the quarterback with the top efficiency
rating in the league a year ago, threw touchdown passes to Jason Barnes and
Jeremiah Johnson in the second and third quarters, respectively, but that was
only after the hosts lit up the scoreboard with 24 unanswered points to begin
Ray completed 27-of-38 passes for 283 yards, with Chad Owens being his
favorite target with eight catches for 78 yards. Owens also pitched in with
three punt returns for another 85 yards, one of those stretching for 83 yards
and a major in the fourth quarter. Owens, who is always a threat to break a
big play, was named the Special Teams Player of the Week for the seventh time
in his career.
Even though the Argos came out on the losing end in the first game of the
season, the team's management is keenly aware of the value that Owens brings
to the field each and every week, which is why the mighty sprite was signed to
a contract extension through the 2015 campaign.
Not limited to keeping only the skill players happy, Toronto also extended
center Jeff Keeping it was announced on Monday. While he certainly doesn't get
the same amount of press as Owens, Keeping has still made a name for himself
after he was not only named an East Division All-Star, but won the Leo
Dandurand Memorial Trophy as the East Division's Outstanding Offensive Lineman
following the 2013 campaign.
Unfortunately, the Toronto defense had no answers for the Blue Bombers, a team
that last season won a total of just three times. Bombers quarterback Drew
Willy threw for a career-high 308 yards and four touchdowns while being named
the CFL Offensive Player of the Week. Winnipeg generated 459 yards of offense,
and kept the Toronto defense on the field for more than 36 minutes.
Toronto trails in the all-time series between these two clubs, 46-37-1, when
speaking of regular-season meetings dating back to 1961. However, the Argos
have won two of the last three meetings, including a 31-29 final in Regina
If the Saskatchewan defense is anywhere near as punishing this week as it was
in the opening game, Ray and Owens better be on the lookout for hits coming
from all sides.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Saskatchewan 28, Toronto 25
07/02 11:14:31 ET
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