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November 26, 2021

Four Stampeder x-factors in the Western Semi-Final

Stampeders.com

The Calgary Stampeders have the unenviable task of trying to beat the same team three times in one season in Sunday’s Western Semi-Final. The Stamps went 2-1 in a tight three-game mini-series with Saskatchewan in October, which sets up this fourth and final meeting with the highest stakes yet.

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If Calgary is going to come out of Mosaic Stadium on Sunday with a win, these four players will likely all play large roles.

Jameer Thurman, linebacker

Thurman didn’t lead the league, or his team, in defensive tackles. He didn’t finish the season with crazy sack or interception totals. Instead, Thurman touched nearly every facet of Calgary’s defensive game plan as one of the league’s most dynamic and well-rounded linebackers. Plain and simple, Thurman was a difference maker all season long.

And don’t get me wrong, he still posted solid numbers this year. Thurman’s 62 tackles were second on the Stampeders and he finished with three sacks and three forced fumbles in 14 appearances. But a lot of what Thurman brings doesn’t necessarily show up on the stats page at CFL.ca.

Thurman is explosive, fast, and strong, which are all important traits at his position. But it’s what he brings in the coverage game that sets Thurman apart from most Will linebackers in this league. Thurman is extremely difficult to pass on and is one of the league’s best man defenders at his position. That type of versatility will be crucial in Calgary’s defensive blueprint this weekend.

Ucambre Williams, offensive line

A.C. Leonard and Jonathan Woodard combined for 21 sacks and finished first and second, respectively, in that category during the regular season. Saskatchewan’s dynamic duo at defensive end is going to be an absolute handful on Sunday. That’s where Williams enters the picture for the Stamps.

 

Calgary’s starting left tackle will be tested early and often, but with everything we’ve seen this season, Williams looks up to the task. The Stamps allowed just 20 sacks this season, the second fewest total in the league behind only Winnipeg. While he missed a few games, Williams was the anchor of this offensive line when healthy.

The fact Calgary clinched a playoff spot with one game to spare was important. It allowed the Stampeders to sit Williams in their regular season finale against Winnipeg, which means he’ll be fresh and rested come Sunday. That’s a huge luxury knowing who he’ll be going up against.

Tre Roberson, defensive back

He’s only played three games since returning from the NFL, but Roberson has already made a massive impact. After cementing himself as the CFL’s best boundary corner in 2019, Roberson hasn’t missed a beat since rejoining the Stampeders late this season. The addition of Roberson to Calgary’s defensive backfield gives them so many more options compared to the last time they faced the Riders.

Roberson has fit like a glove back at his old position and has given the Stampeders more versatility in how they use their bodies. Because Roberson is so difficult to create separation on, he’s barely been targeted in his return. That’s just fine for Calgary, because it has forced opposing quarterbacks to throw to other areas of the field and other talented players.

Now playing opposite Roberson at the other corner position, Jonathan Moxey just completed an outstanding season. When you factor in Jamar Wall, DaShaun Amos, and Richard Leonard, there aren’t a lot of attractive spots to fit the ball into. That’s what happens when Roberson essentially cancels out an entire part of a field.

Reggie Begelton, receiver

If you wondered how much of an immediate impact Begelton was going to make in his return from the NFL, you got your answer almost immediately. Begelton caught seven passes on 11 targets and went for 119 yards and a touchdown in Week 15, his first game back with Calgary. Yeah, that’s a pretty good reintroduction.

Let’s not forget how dominant Begelton was in his 2019, his only full CFL season. That year, Begelton finished with 1,444 receiving yards and ten touchdowns on 102 catches and 144 targets. He was a top two or three receiver in all four of those categories and was Calgary’s most dangerous offensive player. And he hasn’t missed a beat.

Coming into a familiar and comfortable scheme, Begelton has fit seamlessly back into the fold. Now, with Kamar Jorden factored in as well, the Stamps will have not one but two elite receivers on the depth chart when they travel to Regina. That’s something they didn’t have in any of their three meetings with the Riders in October.

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