It’s A Rematch, By George! Rider Game Day Preview:

The Saskatchewan Roughriders are in Guelph Ontario getting set for the conclusion of their home and home series with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. Lost in the return of Kent Austin to Regina last week seems to be this week’s return of Rider Offensive Coordinator George Cortez.

After just one season at the helm in Hamilton Cortez was dumped in favour of Austin late in the off-season. Cortez, who was then scooped up by Saskatchewan, was very pleased with his new team’s 37-nothing shutout of the Tiger-Cats, last week. You can catch all of today’s action along the Roughrider Radio Network starting on CJWW at 3:30.

The Green and White will now attempt to sweep the season series from the Cats. Here is the complete break down of today’s match-up:

The Saskatchewan Roughriders (4-0) visit the Hamilton Tiger-Cats (1-3) on Saturday evening. in week five action. The Riders will be looking to remain the CFL’s lone undefeated team and take both ends of the home and home set.

Rider Roster Reg 5a

Last week, the Riders dismantled the Tiger-Cats 37-0 in front of 37,372 fans at Mosaic Stadium. It was the first shutout for the Riders defence since Labour Day last season.

On offence, Kory Sheets continued his torrid pace rushing for 130 yards, Darian Durant threw for a season high 347 yards and four touchdowns, and Rob Bagg added 125 yards receiving and two touchdowns. The defence held the opposition in check throughout the night registering five quarterback sacks and an interception.

Today will be the Riders lone visit to the University of Guelph and Alumni Stadium this season.

Here’s the Rider Depth Chart heading into the game.

Rider Roster Reg 5




















The Matchup / The Lineups: The Riders and Hamilton will be playing the second of their back-to-back set and have different challenges after a 37-0 shutout by the Riders last week. Saskatchewan leads the CFL in scoring (37.8), net offence (423), rushing (168), first downs (24.8), 2nd down conversion % (61%), TOP (33:31) and several other categories. Perhaps the most pertinent number though is the total players dressed in 2013 after four games: SSK 49, HAM 63. The Ti-Cats have been forced to move players in and out and have started 42 different players in four weeks compared to just 29 by Saskatchewan. For the Riders consistency has been a key as 22 players have started at least 3 games thus far.

A Great Run 30+ & +84: The Riders have scored 30+ points in all 4 games this year but are yet to near the club record. Saskatchewan scored 30+ points in 7 straight games back in 1991 and again across the end of 2004 and the start of the 2005 seasons. Their current 4-game scoring margin is the 4th-best in team history as they are +84 in 2013 compared to four-game runs of: +109 in 1964, +97 in 2006 & +94 in 1976.

Shutouts: The largest win by either club in the all-time series (now led by the Riders 41-38 with 4 ties) was by 46 points on two occasions (1962 & 1999) but there have now been 5 games decided by at least 37 points after last week’s win by Saskatchewan. It is the first time that either club has blanked the other in this matchup (going since 1961). For Saskatchewan their last shutout came in 2012 (52-0 over Winnipeg) but you have to go back to 1976 for the one before that. The Hamilton Tiger-Cats had not been blanked since a 29-0 loss to Winnipeg on Jul 28/06. It was the 20th shutout in Riders history going back to the formation of the West Division in 1936.

Starting QBs: Henry Burris will be starting his 173rd career regular season game and has led his team to a 91-78-3 record. He is 7-15 as a starter for Hamilton and over his career is 13-9-1 against Saskatchewan. Burris has won 5 of his last 7 starts against the Riders and his career ratio of 37 TD passes to just 17 interceptions is among his best. Darian Durant has been dealing with a foot injury and may not start this week. The Riders may be missing a QB that has 75 career starts (40-34-1) including a 7-3 mark against Hamilton. Drew Willy has stepped in for Durant twice before: Sep 16/12 vs Mtl (22-of-34 for 225 yds, 2 Ints, 1 TD) and Nov 3/12 vs BC: (8-of-12, 67 yds, 1 Int, 0 TD) but has yet to lead Saskatchewan to a win.

Receiver Turnover: The Ti-Cats have been challenged by the fact that their top three receivers and 5 of the Top 7 from 2012 (Fantuz, Williams, Stala, Jones & Cobourne) are either no longer with the active roster or have been out for all or most of the season so far. Twelve different players have caught at least one pass for Hamilton in 2013.

Starting RB: There can be no greater contrast in this week’s game at Guelph than at starting tailback. Kory Sheets (see notes above) is on record pace to break CFL records for rushing and yards from scrimmage. He is the only player to ever start a season with four consecutive 100-yard games and will look to break the tie with George Reed and Mike Strickland at four in a row overall. For Hamilton, they have started C.J. Gable twice and Chevon Walker the last two games and none has gained more than 23 yards or had more than 6 carries in a game. Though due to the Ti-Cats emphasis on passing thus far (only Toronto has more pass attempts), being able to run the ball in 2013 has been a key. The CFL’s top 3 rushing teams are a combined 10-2 so far, the other five clubs are 6-14.

Riders better as games go on: The Riders have a perfect 4-0 record thus far despite leading once after the first quarter. The second and third quarters have been their strength however as over that 30-minute span they have outscored opponents 84-23 (+61). Over the last 3 games (after being outgained in total by opponents in the first quarter), across the 2nd and 3rd quarters they have outgained opponents 787 to 299 yards. In the 3rd quarter alone they have rolled up 361 yards to just 73 by the opposition over the last three games with a 62-17 scoring edge. No opponent has scored a 3rd quarter point in the last three games against Saskatchewan.

Hamilton at home: The Ti-Cats are 1-1 at Alumni Stadium in Guelph and can count a 25-20 win over Winnipeg on the positive side. At home since 2007 Hamilton has a .500 record at 28-28 while on the road they have gone 11-45. Of their last 15 wins overall since 2011, 12 have come at home and 3 on the road. They are 4-2 in their last 6 home games and a win would put them right back in the Eastern race. Going into Week #5, no Eastern team had beaten a Western club in 2013.

Here are the rosters that the two teams have submitted to the league:

Rider Roster Reg 5a




CFL-Wide Trends Heading Into Week #5:

Darian Durant and Ricky Ray: Ray’s completion mark of 75.4% is well above the league record held by Dave Dickenson of 74.0% (2005), and only three QBs have ever gone 70%+ in a season (Dickenson twice and Anthony Calvillo in 2009). Darian Durant’s passer rating of 136.9 is also well above the league record (as are Ray’s at 124.0 and Drew Tate’s at 124.5) of 118.8 by Dickenson in 2005. Ray set an all-time CFL record last week completing 19-of-20 passes for a 95% completion rate (min. 20 atts). Neither has thrown an interception to this point – it is the first time in Durant’s career that he has gone four starts in a row without throwing at least one. Ray has gone four games in a row once before but not in the same season.

No Offensive T/Os 4 Straight Games: Saskatchewan has yet to turn the ball over on offence this year and have just one giveaway (on a short kickoff and fumble). The CFL has published a highly detailed analysis of offensive possessions since 2008 – and in that 6-year span this run is the only time any one club went FOUR games in a row without an offensive T/O.

Stegall-like Numbers: Emmanuel Arceneaux (BC) has caught just 12 passes but for a total of 312 yards to rank #3. His average reception is 26.0 yards per catch and that threatens the league record set by Milt Stegall in 1997 at 26.5 yards (61 for 1.616 yards). Arceneaux leads the CFL with 5 receptions for 30+ yards and has at least one in each of his 4 games thus far.

QB Sacks Up: There has been an average of 5.6 sacks per game in 2013 compared to just 4.3 last year. Winnipeg registered only one last week but still leads with 19, on pace for 86 and would just edge the CFL record of 85 set by Calgary in 1986.

Back-to-Back Sets: This season there are 13 sets compared to just 4 each in 2011 and 2012. So far, one set has been split and the other two swept by one club. Saskatchewan and Hamilton complete the fourth set of the year this week with the Riders looking for a sweep. Of the last 53 sets, 24 were swept and 29 have been split.

Passing Efficiency Continues to Climb: Last year the CFL experienced all-time record levels for pass completion % (63.4%) and efficiency (93.5) being the highest league-wide ratings in history. They have risen steadily since 2011 and this year have taken yet another jump after four weeks to 65.4% and 95.8 respectively. These are the highest passing numbers in league history.

Current Milestones & Trends:

Kory Sheets: Has started the 2013 CFL season in spectacular fashion leading the Riders to four straight wins to start the season for just the second time in club history. Sheets leads the CFL in yards from scrimmage with 621 and that puts him at 115.3 yards per game. Though just four weeks in, he is on pace for 2,795 yards from scrimmage which would easily eclipse the CFL record first set by Mike Pringle at 2,414 in 1994. He also threatens the league rushing record set by Pringle at 2,065 yards (115 per game) and Sheets’ average of 143 per game is well above that at this point. But we’re only four games in …

Receiving Update: Three of the CFL’s all-time leading receivers are active for 2013 (Geroy Simon #1, Arland Bruce III #11 at 10,969 yards, and Nik Lewis #13 at 10,694 yards). With 31 more yards Bruce can reach 11,000 with another 200 to reach the all-time Top 10 (Brian Kelly 11,169). Lewis’ consecutive games streak with at least one catch stands at 161 games and he reached 755 receptions for his career last week. Weston Dressler (5,785) is 215 yards short of 6,000 for his career heading into Week #5.

Geroy Simon (SSK): Needs just 9 receptions to become the third player to reach 1,000 and with 15,825 career yards is 175 short of becoming the first to reach 16,000. His consecutive streak of at least one catch has reached 174 games.

Henry Burris (HAM): Needs just 1 completion to pass Ron Lancaster and rank #5 all-time. Each of these all-stars has 3,384 career regular season competed passes. Burris is just 283 yards short of reaching 48,000 for his career and is on his way to becoming the fifth player to get 50,000 which at the present rate (279 yards per game) he could do by Week #13.

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