They’ve been Green road kill

Rid­ers outscored by 215 points since last away win vs. West

Ottawa Sun - - SPORTS - ROB VANSTONE rvan­stone@post­ @rob­van­stone

REGINA — Justin Bieber re­cently can­celled 14 road dates and, in hind­sight, the Saskatchewan Roughrid­ers should have done the same thing.

The Roughrid­ers, af­ter all, have lost their last 14 away games against CFL West Di­vi­sion op­po­nents — a pro­tracted skid that the Green and White hopes to end to­day against the B.C. Li­ons.

Saskatchewan has not de­feated a di­vi­sional ri­val away from Mo­saic Sta­dium since the Win­nipeg Blue Bombers fell 30-24 on Sept. 7, 2014.

De­spite the vic­tory — the Roughrid­ers' sev­enth in suc­ces­sion — 9/7/14 is an in­fa­mous date in fran­chise his­tory.

Dur­ing the third quar­ter of that game in Win­nipeg, Roughrid­ers quar­ter­back Dar­ian Du­rant suf­fered a torn ten­don in his right el­bow and was side­lined for the re­main­der of what turned out to be a lost sea­son.

Saskatchewan had an 8-2 record with Du­rant as the starter in 2014.

He had punc­tu­ated the pre­vi­ous sea­son by quar­ter­back­ing the Green and White to a 45-23 home-field Grey Cup vic­tory over the Hamil­ton Tiger-Cats.

Be­gin­ning with the 2013 reg­u­lar-sea­son opener, and con­clud­ing with that fate­ful first Sun­day of Septem­ber in 2014, the Roughrid­ers were on a 22-9 roll. Since then, they are 12-38. Talk about a roll re­ver­sal! Over the past 14 West Di­vi­sion road games — in­clud­ing one 2014 play­off con­test in which the Roughrid­ers were in­ter­cepted five times — Saskatchewan has been outscored (gulp) 449-234. The av­er­age score: 32-17. The dis­par­ity was eight or fewer points on only five oc­ca­sions.

The vis­i­tors were held to 10 or fewer points in six of the afore­men­tioned, er, games. Et cetera. It's ugly. Since 9/7/14, the Roughrid­ers have fired a gen­eral man­ager (Bren­dan Ta­man) and a head coach (Corey Cham­blin) at a con­sid­er­able cost, and ex­pen­sively hired Chris Jones to run the foot­ball-op­er­a­tions and John Mur­phy to han­dle the player per­son­nel.

Play­ers have been au­di­tioned at a dizzy­ing pace.

Hope has been fos­tered with pe­ri­odic vic­to­ries — such as last Satur­day's 38-27 home­field con­quest of Toronto.

But the lengthy re­build­ing process will not be val­i­dated un­til the Roughrid­ers can win a mean­ing­ful di­vi­sional game — es­pe­cially on the road.

Op­por­tu­nity knocks on Satur­day, just as it did on July 22 when Saskatchewan played in Cal­gary.

It was billed as a state­ment game for the Roughrid­ers, who ended up erupt­ing for three first downs in the first half — af­ter which they trailed 17-0. Cal­gary won, 27-10.

Saskatchewan's other road game this sea­son was on June 22, when the Mon­treal Alou­ettes won 17-16.

The Roughrid­ers did have an op­por­tu­nity to win on the fi­nal play, but place­kicker Tyler Crapigna missed his field-goal at­tempt from 45 yards away.

At home, the lat­est edi­tion of the Roughrid­ers has been much more suc­cess­ful. Jones and as­so­ci­ates are 2-1 at the new Mo­saic Sta­dium, where they have man­aged to outscore the op­po­si­tion 115-90.

The of­fence has sparkled at home, hav­ing reg­is­tered reg­u­la­tion-time point to­tals of 38, 37 and 37.

Over those three games, quar­ter­back Kevin Glenn has guided his team to 12 touch­downs — an av­er­age of one per quar­ter — in­clud­ing 10 aerial ma­jors.

Away from Regina, it has been a dif­fer­ent story. The Roughrid­ers have eked out only two touch­downs (one via the aerial route) in two road games.

The de­fence, for the most part, has played win­ning foot­ball on the road. Mon­treal was held to 17 points and Cal­gary's point to­tal of 27 was sur­pris­ingly low when you con­sider that Saskatchewan's de­fence was hung out to dry.

Now, with an­other West Di­vi­sion road game loom­ing, it is time for the Roughrid­ers' tal­ent-laden of­fence to take charge and, at long last, bury some un­flat­ter­ing ref­er­ences to the past.


Cal­gary de­fender Michael Kashak (right) in­jured Arg­onauts quar­ter­back Ricky Ray with this hit on Thurs­day at BMO Field.

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