Fajardo's improvement a key to Riders' success versus Stampeders
The Saskatchewan Roughriders are looking forward to a good bye week.
Regardless of what they do Saturday against the visiting Calgary Stampeders, the Riders will then head into their first of three bye weeks.
Both teams are coming off wins — the Riders thumped the Toronto Argonauts 32-7 on Monday, two days after Calgary defeated the B.C. Lions 36-32.
Here are five things that the Riders (1-2) need to do to beat the Stampeders (1-1):
JUST FOR KICKS
Ferraro was signed earlier this week to help out while Lauther deals with a groin injury that he apparently suffered against the Argonauts. Lauther connected on all four of his field-goal attempts in the Riders’ victory.
Ferraro, who was selected in seventh round (59th overall) by the Stampeders in the 2017 CFL draft out of the University of Guelph, hasn’t kicked in a CFL regular-season game. However, he set a U Sports single-season record with 33 field goals in 2017 and finished his university career in a tie for the most-ever three-pointers, connecting on 91 of 117 attempts (a 77-per-cent accuracy rate).
The big question is whether Ferraro can transfer that production to the CFL level.
IN FAJARDO THEY TRUST
Cody Fajardo has done everything the Riders could ask for in his first two starts as a CFL quarterback.
He manages the game and has shown a remarkable touch on long passes. He leads the CFL with a 58.8-per-cent success rate on pass attempts over 20 yards.
Fajardo has been so effective as a passer that he hasn’t had to use his legs very often. That’s a surprise considering that even he thinks of himself as a running quarterback.
Other than capitalizing on Fajardo’s mobility to a greater extent along the ground, there isn’t much more the Riders can do to utilize him. They simply need Fajardo to keep improving and the offence should be just fine.
WHAT’S MY LINE?
Injuries continue to force changes to the Riders’ offensive line.
Left tackle Takoby Cofield (hamstring) was placed on the six-game injured list. Terran Vaughn, who started at right tackle against the Argonauts, replaces Vaughn at left tackle. Thaddeus Coleman returns to right tackle after one-game stint on the injured list.
Philip Blake (left guard), Dan Clark (centre) and Dakoda Shepley (right guard) are in their regular positions.
Saskatchewan has allowed only four sacks, which is a testament to Fajardo’s mobility and the offensive line’s consistency despite the changes. More of that will help the Green and White pick up its second win.
Kyran Moore leads the Riders in receiving yards (287) and was fourth in the league in that category entering Week 4.
He showed off his speed, soft hands and chemistry with Fajardo on a 98-yard pass-and-run touchdown against the Argonauts.
Moore leads the CFL in yards after the catch (160). He’s also sure-handed, having caught 12 of the 16 passes that have been thrown in his direction.
The Riders have exhibited a propensity for throwing the long ball with Fajardo at quarterback. Moore’s ability to run after the catch is a key to success against the Stampeders.
BRINGING THE DEFENCE
Saskatchewan’s defence is coming off its best showing of the season, albeit against the lowly Argonauts, with two picks and four sacks.
For the first time since Oct. 3, 2014, Bo Levi Mitchell (pectoral) won’t be Calgary’s starting quarterback against the Riders. He is on the six-game injured list.
Backup Nick Arbuckle gets his first CFL start. He’s similar to Mitchell in that he’s a drop-back passer who doesn’t run a lot.
Saskatchewan’s veteran-laden defence gets a boost with the addition of middle linebacker Solomon Elemimian, who makes his debut with the Green and White. Elimimian can cover from sideline to sideline and can also be utilized on blitzes.
The more pressure the Riders can bring, the less comfortable it will be for Arbuckle.