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REGINA – The 2012 home opener for the Saskatchewan Roughriders had all the artistic value of a stick-figure drawing if you are a fan of offensive football. However, if you like defence, it was a Picasso as the Riders smothered the Eskimos 17-1 on a beautiful Sunday night to improve to 2-0.
Head Coach Corey Chamblin is a defensive-minded coach, so needless to say he was very happy with his defence that held the Eskimos to just 137 yards of total offence while registering six sacks and two interceptions.
“Richie and the coaches on that side of the ball did a great job in having those guys ready to go.” Chamblin said. “I admit I didn’t like the fact that their defence was having a great game too as our offence couldn’t get going, but I was very proud of that defence for the effort they gave.”
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The Riders’ defensive front were simply too much for Steven Jyles and Kerry Joseph to handle Sunday night, generating six quarterback sacks.
One member of that defence that sparkled was defensive end Brent Hawkins. A healthy Hawkins on one side of the defensive line combined with Odell Willis has given the football team a pass rush that they have not had since 2009 when John Chick and Stevie Baggs were wreaking havoc on opposition quarterbacks. Hawkins says talk of not being able to replace those two can now stop.
“Everybody played well across the board—offence, defence and special teams.” Hawkins said. It’s hard to hold a team in this league to just one point, but when you got this group of guys coming together with the same goal in mind, you get the job done. We may have closed a few mouths thanks to Odell and myself, but everyone on that defence deserves credit for this one because it was a team effort.”
The Rider defence has now given up just 17 points in the first two games of the season. Hawkins says there’s nothing special about the defence, and that it’s just a case of everyone being on the same page.
“What’s so good about our defence right now is that Richie Hall allows us to do what we want to as a d-line.” Hawkins said. “He told us he was going to let us show our personality on the field and that is what you’re seeing.”
While the Riders didn’t do anything spectacular offensively, Darian Durant, who threw for 203 yards, looked proficient in running the offence even though it was tough to come away with some points.
“Even though we didn’t put the ball in the endzone, we moved it when we needed to and changed field position.” Durant said. “We kept them with a long field and we knew as a group that all we needed was one touchdown to put it out of reach and we finally broke through at the end.”
The win leaves the Riders with a record of 2-0. They will take on the 2-0 B.C. Lions in a battle of the two lone unbeaten teams in the league Saturday afternoon at 1 o’clock at Mosaic Stadium.