The Saskatchewan Roughriders remember the mauling they suffered last month in Hamilton.
The Tiger-Cats shredded the Riders’ defence and shut down their offence in a 53-7 beat-down on Aug. 20. It remains Saskatchewan’s most lopsided loss this season.
This time the Roughriders (2-10) are riding the momentum of a win over Edmonton and looking for a different result when they host Hamilton (6-6) on Saturday night.
“When you start the work week with a win, going into the next game, you have a little momentum going. It’s another game at home, it feels good – we want to repeat that feeling,” quarterback Darian Durant said on Wednesday.
Durant does not want to repeat the feeling of the Aug. 20 encounter. He tossed four interceptions in the loss at Tim Hortons Field, and Saskatchewan failed to score a touchdown.
“I don’t want to take any credit away from [defensive co-ordinator Orlando] Steinauer and what their defence does, because they’re a great defensive team. But that was more so myself just being out of character, playing out of character, not focused on my reads,” Durant said.
Running back Curtis Steele will start his second game after returning from the six-game injured list. Durant said his presence changes the dynamic of the offence.
“It takes the pressure off myself, it takes the pressure off the offensive line. We don’t become one-dimensional.”
That pressure in the Hamilton loss was due in large part to former Rider defensive end John Chick, who had two sacks, one tackle and one forced fumble for the win.
On the offensive side of the ball, Hamilton quarterback Zach Collaros dissected the Riders’ secondary for five touchdowns and 381 passing yards.
“[He’s] smart, and he can pick you apart if you give him the chance,” said Riders linebacker Korey Jones.
“As a linebacking core, we’re just trying to get some pre-snap reads and read as the play develops and be in the right positions. Hopefully some work out for us.”
Equally tough is when Collaros breaks out of the pocket and starts slinging passes on the run, according to Jones.
At that point, “it’s every man’s job to plaster, to find the next man to him and try to plaster to him. Just glue him, and stick to him,” he said.
Then there’s the constant threat of speedy return specialist Brandon Banks, who can swing a game’s momentum on a single play.
Banks’ return abilities were relatively underutilized in the Aug. 20 matchup. He had three punt returns and one kickoff return for 32 total special teams yards.
“I don’t put a lot of stock in that game,” said Riders’ special teams coach Craig Dickenson.
“They got up on us so quickly, I felt like their focus changed from big returns, to securing the football and letting the offence go.”
Dickenson said the Ticats’ special teams success is more than just Banks’ speed.
“They keep drafting those good, young solid Canadian special teams players. And I think what you’re seeing is they take a lot of pride in what they do, and they really work hard to try to block for Brandon Banks.”
He noted that Banks’ return abilities make the work of kicker Tyler Crapigna and punter Josh Bartel all the more important.
“The better kick placement we get out of our punter and kicker, the better chance our cover guys got of really pinning the returner in,” he said. “The whole goal versus a good returner is to try to take away space. The better we can pin the ball, the less space he has to work with.”Report Typo/Error