Stopping Harris and the run key for Riders against Redblacks

By Arielle Zerr/CJME News Staff
October 13, 2017 - 10:22am

When the Roughriders squeaked by the Redblacks two weeks ago, they did it without Ottawa’s starting quarterback Trevor Harris.

That won’t be the case this time, as Harris returned from his shoulder injury last week and put together a win against the B.C. Lions.

With the Redblacks starter back behind centre, the Riders’ defence knows they need to tighten up.

“Trevor can do a lot of things with his feet and with his arm. He’s very precise and accurate so we just got to be in the position to play disciplined football,” said defensive back Jovon Johnson.

Johnson noted the team also needs to get off to a much stronger start.

Two weeks ago against Ottawa, the Riders didn’t get on the board until the third quarter, staging a late-game comeback and winning by just one point.

“Fortunately we were able to hold them to 17 points and not let them extend the lead more for us to be able to make the comeback, but with Trevor in the lineup, we can’t put ourselves in that sort of deficit,” Johnson said.

Harris also has plenty of targets including two 1000 yard receivers in Greg Ellingson and Brad Sinopoli that will keep the Riders defensive backs on their toes.

“We’ve just got to come up, be physical and cover with our eyes and feet and not look at the quarterback too much,” Johnson explained.

But it’s not just the passing game that can cause problems for the Roughriders.

In the last matchup against the Redblacks running back William Powell rushed for 187 yards against them. The Riders weren’t really able to stop him until the fourth quarter.

In turn, the Riders have been working hard on not only defending the run but beefing up their own run game.

“It’s not just stopping the run, it’s (us) being able to run the football. It’s two of the things we’ve tried to make an emphasis this week,” head coach Chris Jones said. “If we want to get where we want to go, we’re going to have to improve in both areas.”

And it was message received for the Riders defensive line.

“(We have) a better understanding (after the game in Ottawa) on how important it is to key in on those types of things. There’s an importance in this league in stopping the run, especially down the stretch,” said Tobi Antigha.

“We’re just focusing on doing our job. Doing our job will take care of everything regardless of who is in the backfield.”

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