August 1, 2013

Pedersen: Riders showing no signs of slowing down

The Saskatchewan Roughriders are the best in the CFL after last Saturday’s 32-20 victory over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in Guelph, ON and not surprisingly, you’re starting to hear the comments all across Saskatchewan.

“Is this the best Roughrider team of all time?” or “Has a CFL team ever gone undefeated?”

I can’t answer the first one, although it’s a great question.

As for the second inquiry, the 1948 Calgary Stampeders went 12-0 in their 12-game schedule and finished the season off with a 12-7 victory over the Ottawa Rough Riders in the 36th Grey Cup in Toronto.

But really, although the Riders have won five-straight to start the season, it has to be a little early to discuss a perfect season isn’t it?

Of course it is, but it sure is fun!

So too is watching the Green & White, as they’ve been beating teams handily in the early stages of this 2013 season. In the just-completed home-and-home series with the Ticats, the Roughriders outscored them 69-20.

As one player put it to me on the flight home, “We’re kicking the crap out of everybody”.

They are and they’re also showing no signs of slowing down.

What better example is there than to have backup quarterback Drew Willy come in and throw three deep touchdown passes in the second quarter of last week’s game to Geroy Simon, Chris Getzlaf and Weston Dressler?

Willy got the start in place of the injured Darian Durant (foot) and, despite some minor early hiccups, put the same amount of points on the board we’re accustomed to seeing from Durant.

“Drew Willy did an excellent job,” said Rider head coach Corey Chamblin upon the team’s return to Regina.  “That’s his second start and you could see that there’s improvement from the other times he started last year.  Good job for him this year.”

And Chamblin was taking nothing for granted after the team’s Week 5 victory.  His club faced a lot of distractions on that road trip – some were evident but others weren’t – and the team still survived and thrived.

“You’re on the road, in a different environment, and a place you haven’t been before so that’s always tough,” Chamblin explained.  “But we finished pretty smooth.  They were a focused bunch.  You could see in warmups that Hamilton was ready to go and they’d be ready to play.  Once we found out what they were doing, we were ready to roll.”

Indeed, the Riders rode.

And now they’re headed home for a break as a bye week has presented itself in the schedule and we won’t see Canada’s Team on the field until Friday, August 9 in a battle for first-place in the CFL West.  You’d think the Riders would prefer to keep the pedal to the metal and not take any time off but Chamblin quickly assured us that’s not the case.

“The bye is a great thing because we need some rest,” the coach offered.  “It’s a good thing.  I’ll be playing with my kids and my family’s in town for three days and then we’ll get back to work.”

And he left his players with this message.

“Be smart. Be smart. Take care of yourselves and come back better than when you left.”

And then the assault on the perfect season will continue.  However perhaps we won’t talk about it again until Week 17.

For daily Rider news follow Rod on Twitter at @sportscage