Everything has been going the Saskatchewan Roughriders’ way over the past month.
The offence, defence and special teams have all had big moments as the Riders have strung together three consecutive wins heading into Saturday’s meeting with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in the Banjo Bowl.
Head Coach Chris Jones said the Riders have learned to be a physical team, which has contributed to their recent run of success.
“Early in the year, B.C. really took it to us and so did Calgary, but we learned from those two football games,” said Jones.
Saskatchewan took it to Winnipeg in a 38-24 win during last Sunday’s Labour Day Classic. The Riders controlled all three phases of the game again in the win as they jumped out to a big lead and dictated the rest of the game.
A big part of those quick starts recently have been turnovers.
“We’ve been fortunate that when they’ve turned the football over, we’ve turned them into a couple of defensive scores and a punt block for a touchdown and any time you can do that, it does put them up against the eight-ball, so we’ve just got to continue to take advantage of the opportunities that we’re given,” said Jones.
Investors Group Field in Winnipeg will definitely be hostile territory for the Riders when they take to the field, and that would have been the case without all the extra talk that has been happening between fans and in the media over the past week.
Whether it’s SpitGate, the “faking” injuries controversy or which fan base is the loudest, there’s been plenty of talk going on.
Riders receiver Duron Carter has been in the middle of it and he said he’s looking forward to being enemy number one on Saturday.
“I feel like I play my best in hostile environments,” said Carter. “Coming in to play a very good Winnipeg team in a very loud stadium, I can’t wait.”
Carter led the way for the Riders with ten catches, 101 yards and a touchdown in the Labour Day Classic. He’s now scored a touchdown in five straight games and leads the CFL with seven receiving scores so far this season.
“We’ve been winning lately and anytime the ball comes to me, I owe it to my team, I owe it to everybody to perform my best and that’s what I’m doing,” said Carter.
“We’ve have great team chemistry from the o-line to the receivers to the running backs to the quarterbacks, everybody is kicking it, and we just love it, we love going out to practice, there’s no fights, there’s no arguments, we’re just out here playing football.”
The Riders won’t have the same lineup in the rematch with both running back Cameron Marshall and receiver/return Nic Demski added to the team’s six-game injured list, which now includes 18 players in total.
“Those are big losses, you’ve watched the film of how good those guys are, so we’ve got an uphill battle,” said Jones
Canadian Kienan LaFrance will draw in at starting running back for the game in the same stadium where he played his university ball with the Manitoba Bisons.
“I’m glad for the opportunity and just waiting to make the most of it,” said LaFrance.
“I’m hoping for the most workload. Anytime I step on the field and get the chance to play running back, I believe in myself and I want the coaches to believe in me as well, so whatever they have planned for me, I just hope to go out there and do exactly what that is.”
LaFrance signed with Saskatchewan in the offseason after winning a Grey Cup with the Ottawa Redblacks. The shifty five-foot-nine back is looking forward to performing in front of friends and family.
“This is cool, I’ve been here on this field quite a few times and it’s definitely something that brings back memories and I’m just looking to add to the repertoire,” said LaFrance.
The Riders and Bombers will kick-off at 1 p.m.