With files from The Canadian Press
SASKATCHEWAN — Saskatchewan Roughriders head coach Corey Chamblin is well aware that his team needs to fix some of the glaring errors from Friday night’s last-second loss to the Calgary Stampeders but was all around pleased with his team’s effort.
“There were some good things out there tonight,” said Chamblin. “There were some guys that, when the lights came on, they really turned it on and I’m proud to see that there were some players that helped contribute Game 1.
One of those players that shined when the spotlight was on was rookie tailback Kory Sheets, who rushed for 81 yards and a touchdown in the first half alone and averaged over 13 yards per carry. The Purdue product is in a race to fill the starting tailback roll in Saskatchewan which has been left open since the departure of veteran Wes Cates in the off-season.
“The biggest thing was penalties. Whether it was young guys or veteran guys making those we have to cut down on those to give ourselves a chance to win every game.”
The final exhibition game for both teams was a kickers’ showcase through most of the first half, with the first 16 points scored by field goal or single, before Sheets ran 13 yards for the game’s first touchdown.
One of Chris Getzlaf’s six catches, from four yards out, opened the second-half scoring on a TD toss from Riders backup QB Drew Willy. But Calgary’s Matt Walter scored on a four-yard run less than two minutes later.
Saskatchewan’s Chris Milo was 3-for-3 placekicking, and he and the Stamps Rob Maver each punted for singles to round out the scoring.
“Tonight let us know that we’re on the right track,” said Chamblin. “Defensively we’ll still look at some cover guys…but offensively and special teams I think we did some good things so we’re close to where we want to be.”
Both teams used three quarterbacks in the game. Tate was 13-for-21 for 174 yards for Calgary with a touchdown and an interception. Kevin Glenn went 7-for-9 and Bo Levi Mitchell was 3-for-5 in relief.
The Riders started Durant, who completed nine of 12 throws for 92 yards and a touchdown. Willy entered the game in the second half and went 9-for-12 for 96 yards, while O’Sullivan was 5-for-10 for 70 yards.
“I was pretty happy with the quarterback play,” said Chamblin. “I think they’re still learning, but I think they’re doing a good job learning everything that Khari (Jones, Saskatchewan’s quarterback coach) is teaching them.
“And they did make some big plays. I was impressed with Drew Willy. Like I said he throws a good deep ball and he showed up.”
Saskatchewan opens its 2012 regular season June 29 in Hamilton against the Tiger-Cats while Calgary opens at home July 1 against the Montreal Alouettes.