CFL Pass

Focusing on Roughriders’ positives after 0-7 start

Saskatchewan Roughriders fans may think the upside of their team is nearly impossible to find positives after a 0-7 start, but there are actually a number of positives to focus on following the 30-26 loss to the Toronto Argonauts.

The Roughriders haven’t gone 0-7 since 1979 but during that year, many of the games were blowouts. In five of the seven games *this* year, Saskatchewan have held a lead going into the fourth quarter. This latest loss to Toronto was yet another example, with the Argos scoring two touchdowns in the final frame to complete the comeback win. No lead is safe, right?

Easily the most frustrating part of this game was the penalties. Flying flags and rule changes have dominated conversation in 2015 all around the CFL, but the Riders gave a whole new meaning to the term “shot themselves in the foot” on Saturday.

Yes, the Argonauts also committed an absurd number of fouls, but the amount of yards lost by the Riders conceal the big plays that were called back. Two touchdowns by Chris Getzlaf were erased as well as a big return by Steven Miller that put the Rider offense in great starting position. The amount of times I was shaking my head during the game was unbelievable – I may just need to book a chiropractor appointment soon to fix my sore neck.

And 98% of these calls have been penalties in the CFL for 30 years! Has the team given up on Corey Chamblin?

But let’s get to the positives, finally. It looks like the Roughriders have found their heir apparent to Darian Durant once he finishes his career in Saskatchewan. Brett Smith was one deflected pass away from leading the Rider offense down the field with 1:30 left in the game to win it; 23-of-35 for 298 yards with two touchdowns and one interception read the stat line for Smith. What you don’t see on the stat sheet is how many plays he made with his feet. This kid can play football!

Smith is just another feather in the cap of Jim Barker and the Toronto Argonauts, though. Just look at the quarterbacks that have been through the Argo system the past few seasons: Zach Collaros, Trevor Harris and Brett Smith all got their first crack in Toronto.

With Anthony Allen out, Steven Miller made it onto the depth chart and showed the Roughriders that he deserves to be playing every week. Miller’s line ultimately read 54 yards rushing, 14 yards receiving and 118 kick return yards – just imagine the numbers he would have run up if those big plays were preserved, having not been called back due to penalty.

The Riders are currently 0-7, but are showing they can compete while playing some really entertaining football. And the talented young players in the Saskatchewan system can give the Rider Nation hope for next year and beyond.

Oh, and one more positive: The Riders are on BYE this week and so can’t go 0-8 ... yet.

– written by Travis Currah