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CFL Preview - Calgary (3-4) at Saskatchewan (3-4)



From The Sports Network

By Gregg Xenakes, CFL Editor

DATE & TIME: Saturday, August 25, 3:00 p.m. (et).

GAME NOTES: Drifting to the bottom of the Western Division standings in the CFL because of a four-game slide, the Saskatchewan Roughriders try to break out of their slump this Saturday as they entertain the Calgary Stampeders at Mosaic Stadium.

Tied with Calgary for third place in the division, the Roughriders began the 2012 campaign with a bang, or rather a series of bangs as they opened with three consecutive wins over Hamilton, Edmonton and British Columbia by a combined 46 points. However, since the triumph over the Lions the Riders have come up empty in terms of victories and have watched their scoring production drop each week.

Last Sunday, the team hit a season-low with a mere five points in a 19-point setback against BC on the road. Saskatchewan actually scored the first points of the meeting, thanks to a 36-yard field goal by Sandro DeAngelis late in the first quarter, but after that the offense was never heard from again. In fact, the other two points came courtesy of BC kicker Paul McCallum who chose to concede in his own end zone rather than risk kicking away.

Darian Durant started the game at quarterback for the Roughriders, converting 18-of-27 passes for 170 yards, but he was sacked twice and threw three interceptions, prompting the coaching staff to send in Drew Willy to see if he could do any damage. The backup converted all but one of his seven pass attempts for 54 yards, but he was no more effective than Durant.

Running back Kory Sheets caught five passes for 49 yards, but his mere 28 yards on the ground, while a team-high, was indicative of how poorly the team ran the ball.

While the Roughriders were struggling to find their way on offense last week, the Stampeders were also trying to shake off a sluggish start against Toronto at home, but still suffered a 22-14 setback. Held scoreless in both the first and third quarters, the only points scored by Calgary prior to a late TD pass from Kevin Glenn to Chris Bauman in the fourth frame, came courtesy of Rene Paredes on a pair of field goals of 18 and 14 yards in the second quarter.

Glenn finished the meeting 22-of-33 for 292 yards, was sacked two times and picked off once. Jon Cornish, coming off a career game against Hamilton during which he ran for 170 yards on 20 carries and gained another 47 yards on six pass receptions to be named both the CFL Offensive and Canadian Player of the Week, was limited to just 43 yards on 12 attempts and caught one ball for another 28 yards.

Cornish, who ran for 863 yards and nine touchdowns last season as he carried the ball 119 times and fumbled just once, is averaging 4.9 yards per carry this year which is a career low. Cornish, who has four TDs on the ground to his credit, has also put the ball on the turf twice on 84 carries thus far.

Ranked sixth in the conference in total rushing yards with 412 through seven games, Cornish is a reliable part of the offense for the Stampeders, but at the same time is one of only two of the top 12 rushers in the league who is averaging less than five yards per carry.

Glenn is in the middle of the pack when it comes to passing here in 2012, posting slightly better than 1,500 yards, leading to eight touchdowns and five interceptions, and still this is a unit that is third in the league in scoring with 28.6 ppg.

Working against the Stamps is a defense that is tied for the fewest takeaways in the league with just 10, which means the squad overall is tied with Hamilton for the worst turnover margin at minus-seven.

Even though he had issues finding running lanes last week, Sheets is still the league leader in rushing with 468 yards and has scored a league-high six rushing touchdowns as well. Add to that his ability to make himself available in the passing game and it is easy to see how Sheets leads the CFL in yards from scrimmage with 762.

When Glenn isn't leaning so heavily on Sheets, he is often searching out possession receiver Weston Dressler who has a team-best 44 catches for 539 yards and four touchdowns. Non-import Chris Getzlaf is second on the team with 28 catches, but he has just two trips to the end zone and none since the fourth week of the season.

The losing streak for the Riders actually began against Calgary on the road back on July 19 when the Stamps slipped by in a 41-38 overtime decision. In that contest Glenn threw for 385 yards and four touchdowns, including the game- winner, a 16-yard strike to Nik Lewis in the extra session. Lewis had a huge game of his own as he turned seven receptions into 98 yards and three scores for the victors.

Sheets ran for a game-high 72 yards and two majors for the visitors, while Durant and Willy combined to throw three TDs of their own in the losing cause.

With that victory Calgary now owns a 118-87-9 advantage in the all-time, regular-season series with the Riders dating back to 1945. The Stamps have won six in a row and seven of the last eight matchups overall.

This game could easily come down to which one of the running backs gets off to a strong start. Both need to rebound from lackluster efforts during Week 8 and with the hometown crowd behind him, Sheets should be the one to answer the call.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Saskatchewan 27, Calgary 21

08/22 11:12:43 ET