October 8, 2012

Riders offence heaps praise on defensive effort


TORONTO — Corey Chamblin is a hard man to please.

A smothering defensive performance anchored the Saskatchewan Roughriders’ emphatic 36-10 road win over the Toronto Argonauts on Monday, but it still wasn’t enough for the rookie head coach.

“I had a mandate that I wanted at least five sacks and they didn’t reach it so I’m not very pleased with the defence,” a straight-faced Chamblin said afterwards. “I’m not satisfied with the defence.

“The offence did a good job putting points up, the defence has a way to go. We have to capitalize on all the plays. The guys always say they want to be the No. 1 defence, they have a ways to go to be the No. 1 defence.”

Saskatchewan certainly played like the CFL’s top defence, holding a Toronto offence minus starter Ricky Ray (knee) and running back Chad Kackert (ribs) to just 13 first downs, 58 yards rushing and 213 net yards. And while the Riders only registered one sack, they never let Argos quarterback Jarious Jackson get in sync.

“We have high expectations here and if we set a goal and don’t reach it that means we failed,” said Riders linebacker Tyron Brackenridge, who had five tackles and a fumble recovery. “But at the end of the day we have another week to get better.

“We came out and played fast, we were all on the same page and came out with a little bit of fire. Each game is a purpose and we had that purpose in mind to win. We wanted to eliminate all the big plays and we did that. We eliminated (Jackson’s) reads, created tight windows and got pressure up front.”

Toronto head coach Scott Milanovich said his team – which had 17 penalties for 126 yards – was thoroughly beaten in every phase of the game.

“It was very disappointing,” he said. “We lost the turnover battle, we lost the penalty battle and probably lost the battle of the line of scrimmage.

“That’s a tailor-made blueprint for losing the ballgame.”

Kory Sheets and Weston Dressler scored huge third-quarter touchdowns to cement Saskatchewan’s third straight win. Sheets’s season-high 48-yard TD run at 9:29 put Saskatchewan ahead 29-10 and brought “Let’s Go Riders” chants from the Saskatchewan faithful within a Rogers Centre gathering of 25,176.

Sheets, who the Riders found an a free-agent camp this off-season, ran for 113 yards on 19 carries to boost his season total to 1,035 yards.
Darian Durant then added a 78-yard TD strike to Dressler at 11:25, the Saskatchewan slotback’s league-leading 10th touchdown catch this season. After Dressler, who had five receptions for a game-high 97 yards, waltzed into the end zone, Saskatchewan fans erupted into another “Let’s Go Riders” chant with their club comfortably ahead 36-10.

Sheets credited the defence for the win.

“We feel like we have one of the best defences in the league and when they go out and play the way they did today I don’t think anybody can hang with them,” he said. “They can stop anybody anytime anywhere.”

Saskatchewan earned its fifth win in six games to move into a second-place tie with Calgary in the CFL’s West Division. Durant finished 21-of-29 passing for 276 yards and a TD to improve to 6-2 versus Toronto and 3-1 at Rogers Centre.

Saskatchewan faces the fourth-place Edmonton Eskimos on Saturday in an important division showdown.

Jackson fell to 1-1 replacing the injured Ray after leading the Argos past Winnipeg 29-10 on Sept. 29. Jackson finished 16-of-31 passing for 162 yards with a TD and interception before giving way to rookie Trevor Harris in the fourth.

“Right from the beginning they kept us pinned in our own end all game long,” Jackson said. “Every time we started around our 20 (yard line) and it would take three first downs just to get to mid-field.

“They executed on details better than we did. They kicked our butts.”

Despite that, Toronto remains in contention for top spot in the East Division.

On Sunday, Toronto hosts Montreal – which lost 27-22 to Winnipeg on Monday – in a crucial contest for both teams. Not only will the winner assume first place but also win the season series 2-1, which is important because in the event of a tie, the first tie-breaker is head-to-head record.

“Today is done, forget about it,” said Argos cornerback Jordan Younger. “The stars and moon have aligned for us to have a shot at first place and we have to be ready.”