It wasn’t injuries or the loss of Darian Durant that cost the Roughriders the game against B.C.
No, according to head coach Chris Jones it was blown coverage and what’s between the team’s ears.
The Roughrider defence has had a tough run of it. The last two weeks they’ve given up leads held by the team at halftime.
“It seems like we’re the only team that can give up a lead like this,” linebacker Samuel Eguavoen said post-game on Saturday. “So now, no matter how bad we’re beating somebody or how bad we’re getting beaten we just got to keep playing hard.”
“We can’t give ball games away,” Jones said emphatically on Thursday, echoing statements Eguavoen made earlier in the week.
Jones said in the Riders last two matchups neither Edmonton nor B.C. had any sort of belief that they could win the football game until the Roughriders gave up big touchdown plays. It was those big offensive plays, according to Jones, that allowed the Riders opponents to feel like they could come back and win.
“The problem is between our ears we have to learn to play 60 minutes and when we get a lead we have to keep the hammer down and don’t make mistakes to let them back in games,” Jones said.
It’s something the team worked on all week in practice, and defensive back Buddy Jackson said they’ve corrected.
“We shot ourselves in the foot several times,” he said about the last two games. “(But) when we’re in position … we can play with anybody.”
The Redblacks are certainly a team the Riders can’t shoot themselves in the foot with. They sit at the top of the standings in the CFL with three wins and a tie. Quarterback Trevor Harris been named amongst the top players in the league by the CFL three out of the last four weeks. He’s thrown for 1,475 yards this season and nine touchdowns.
“They’re so efficient offensively,” Jones said. “So defensively we’ve got to do a real good job of changing all the coverages and changing all the fronts. We’ve got to frustrate their quarterback and their play caller.”
The Roughriders also have to take advantage of the opportunities before them, he added, referencing several occasions where interceptions were possible against B.C. and the player couldn’t catch the ball.
“When we get our hands on the football we’ve got to take advantage of those opportunities and then we’ve got to keep the ball away from them,” Jones said.
“We’ve got to defend our home,” said Jackson Thursday afternoon. “People are counting us out already, early in the season. It’s not well start it’s well done and we’re going to get this thing rolling.”
Kickoff is at 7 p.m. Friday at Mosaic Stadium.
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