Some observations and random thoughts after the Roughriders improved to 2-0 with a 17-1 win over the Edmonton Eskimos on Sunday:
- I initially wasn’t too impressed with a 5 p.m. kickoff on a Sunday, but the idea grew on me while walking into the stadium. I had a feeling that people had been waiting all weekend for the kickoff and they were ready to cut loose. It was a nice change to hear the fans cheering and chanting after what took place in 2011.
- I bet there are a more than a few people from the east side explaining their sunburns this morning. The folks over there were baked by the sun and it had to feel warmer than 27 C. The temperature cooled off as the game progressed, but it was still a pretty warm evening for football.
- Speaking of football, the early portions of Sunday’s game reminded me of soccer. There was a lot of jockeying for field position and little scoring. I still can’t believe that Edmonton managed just one measly point. The Riders weren’t a lot better, but they did pick up a nice touchdown from Kory Sheets late in the game.
- Wins count more than style points, but I still prefer to see some touchdowns.
- I know that the 2011 Roughriders would not have won that kind of game. There are so many differences between this year and last year and I do keep writing about them. I’ll probably move away from that angle as the 2012 team develops its personality. What I’ve seen so far is pretty good.
- The Rider Nation should be buzzing over the play of the defence this morning. It was that kind of game where a good defence could win it. The front seven was solid, which helped out the secondary. A good pass rush has a way of hiding many flaws in the secondary.
- I would be surprised if folks had any issues with QB Darian Durant this morning. We all got a good taste of the ball-control offence that may well define this team. Durant’s longest completion was for 21 yards and he said that was by design. The Riders want Durant to get the ball into hands of playmakers like Chris Getzlaf, Weston Dressler and Sheets. Last night’s game was a fine example of the good things that can happen when that takes place.
- Sheets is proving to be the No. 1 running back the Riders were looking for. I didn’t notice as many missed blocking assignments, which is a good sign. The guy is fun to watch when he runs the ball though. Sheets said he tried to do too much in the middle portion of the game, which led to shorter runs. He returned to letting the offensive line do its job later in the game and it paid off in the 34-yard touchdown run.
- A shovel pass … when was the last time we saw the Riders complete one of those. Durant and Sheets connected on two on Sunday night.
- DE Brent Hawkins headed straight for the sidelines after his fumble recovery and tossed the football to his fiancée, Andrea Cecchini. Hawkins said after the game she has done so much to get him back on the field after two shoulder surgeries that he’ll do that every time he recovers a fumble.Cecchini caught the ball cleanly too.
- Eskimos general manager Eric Tillman was huddling with the Edmonton media after the game. Tillman had this response when asked if what took place is every fan’s nightmare after he traded Ricky Ray to the Toronto Argonauts during the off-season: “Given that it was my responsibility, it was my decision, the accountability lies with me in terms of the Ricky Ray trade, right now until we get this thing turned around, all of the pitchforks should be coming in my direction. I’ve done this long enough to know that it’s a long season and I have tremendous confidence in the guys in the locker room but right now we are what we are. You aren’t what you talk about, you are what you do. And we’re 1-1 and to say this was not a Picasso offensively would be the understatement of a lifetime.’’
- On the injury front, guard Brendon LaBatte injured his right shoulder and his status is up in the air when it comes to playing on Saturday against the Lions.
- The Riders are off today and return to practice on Tuesday. It’s Day 1, so it’s open to the public.
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