Pedersen: Riders look for new identity with same results | | Official Site of the Canadian Football League
Recap: Saskatchewan 31, Hamilton 10
Derek Mortensen/

Sunday is a day the Rider Nation won’t soon forget.

Amidst one of the worst summer storms in recent memory, the Saskatchewan Roughriders kicked off the 2014 CFL season in fine style with a 31-10 win over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats at Mosaic Stadium.

A few hours before game time, one had to wonder if the contest would be played at all.  Regina was being hammered by driving rains that flooded out the city and caused emergencies in nearby communities.

But the show must go on and the new-look Riders certainly did put on a show. 

The green defensive front sacked Hamilton quarterback Zach Collaros an astounding 10 times while rookie running back Anthony Allen rushed for a whopping 156 yards with a touchdown on the ground and one in the air in his CFL debut.

There were whispers throughout the Rider locker room through training camp that this defence could be better than the one the Riders deployed in 2013 when they allowed a league-low in points. 

In Week 1, they did nothing to dispel the myth.

“That’s something we’ve been talking about amongst ourselves,” admitted rush end Ricky Foley who contributed three sacks of his own.  “I wouldn’t want to discredit the guys who were here last year and departed, but we’re coming out of the gate with incredible chemistry.  Last year it was all new coaches and players but this year we’re much more familiar with the system.  It’s ‘organic’ if that makes sense.”

The Riders had plenty of questions going into the brand new season, not the least of which was how would they replace record-setting tailback Kory Sheets who fled to the NFL?  Also with two new linebackers and a new defensive tackle, how would that front seven fare?

Those questions were answered in spades and while it’s incredibly early, they received two thumbs up in their season debut.

“I thought they played with great effort and executed what we asked them to do,” said Rider coach Corey Chamblin.  “The new receivers had a great start.  The elements played right to Anthony Allen and he got it done.  There's room for improvement, he missed a block on one play, but I thought he did a good job.”

The game itself was a Grey Cup rematch but it was a hollow shadow of last November’s CFL title game in which the Riders spanked the Ticats 45-23.  While the dominance was the same, the hype was minimal.  Heck, no one even brought up the fact Hamilton coach Kent Austin’s image adorns the west side of our stadium on a 7-story banner.

“I didn't get a ring for this win,” Chamblin chuckled.  “It didn't feel like a Grey Cup rematch.  They had Zach Collaros, not Henry Burris, and they had Craig Butler who was on our side last year.  They had some animosity towards that game it felt like at times, but no it wasn't a true rematch.”

Regardless, the Riders’ mastery of the Ticats continued as they’ve beaten the Steeltowners in four straight games over the past two seasons.

But it’s not about Hamilton.  It’s about the 2014 Riders carving out their own identity and proving they’ll be a force to be reckoned with as they charge towards the Grey Cup in Vancouver five long months away.

So far, so good.

About Rod

Rod Pedersen is the Voice of the Saskatchewan Roughriders on 620 CKRM. You can check out his award-winning blog at Follow Rod on Twitter @sportscage.

Fan Comments
You are aware this is a Rider article? You coming on here to trash talk proves that you're the one who's concerned about us. And besides, the back of my mind is full of memories of the grey cup run. Especially that western final ;P
July 03, 2014 - 3:55pm
rayx...Yes I did watch that game for your information! The riders didn't dominate the Cats any more than the Stamps dominated the Als, so what's your point? By the way, who said anything about handing the Stamps first place? Maybe in the back of your mind?
July 03, 2014 - 1:11am
3RD and 1
als rule ... Rod Pedersen is the voice of the Saskatchewan Roughriders. What Pedersen was responding to was all the garbage that was being shoved down Rider fans throats about how the team will be a shell of itself. That losing Sheets and Dressler to the NFL and Baker to Hamilton as well as our D-tackle in the expansion draft would be too much to overcome. Yet Rider fans knew what players were waiting their turn. Plus the American mini camps found 5 new receivers as well as 5 new RB's and several LB for each of the 3 positions. The defence is better than last year. Our RB situation is awesome and Dressler \ Simon have been replaced with 3 excellent receivers. 2 of which have NFL experience and ND State has given us Dressler 2 point 0. Watch #2 in the future. It's uncanny. I'm telling you here and now that the Riders are just as talented on offence and better on defence. It's going to come down to how this team responds to adversity. I've been a Rider fan well over 30 years and I'm going to say it right now. This Rider team will be better than last year. Our RB situation replacing Saunders and Sheets with Allen and Totson will have a powerful and explosive 1- 2 punch..
But hey I feel for you over there in Montreal. Firing the OC in camp shows drastically in how out of sync the offence is. As well as the QB regressing from last year. His aim and over throws looked bad! I honestly think this year will be the worst the ALS have had since returning to Montreal. Kind of like what happened to the Riders in 2011.
July 02, 2014 - 7:59pm
What did you expect from Pedersen, als rule? He is the riders number one cheerleader! While it was a good showing in a few areas this is pretty early to be too optimistic from a riders point of view!
July 02, 2014 - 3:30pm
Yet the Stamps expect us to hand them first starting an untested QB? And you obviously didn't watch the game because the riders dominated every aspect of it.
July 02, 2014 - 9:45pm
Yet the Stamps can assume they just have dibs on first place with a first year quarterback and Tate who gets injured every start?
July 02, 2014 - 10:50pm
Strength on offense is the Oline so running the ball after an early lead played right into their hands.
On defense losing some star players but had two players in the Wings who were around the team for a year or two Hurl and Peters were great.
July 01, 2014 - 6:45pm
als rule
okay pedersen wait until the halfway point of the season before you start talking about same results with a new identity!! remember the whole operation can go south in a flash!!
July 01, 2014 - 5:28pm