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CFL Preview - Toronto (6-4) at Saskatchewan (8-2)
From The Sports Network
By Gregg Xenakes, CFL Editor
DATE & TIME: Saturday, September 14, 9:30 p.m. (et).
GAME NOTES: The Saskatchewan Roughriders try to avoid back-to-back defeats for the first time this season, as they host the Toronto Argonauts on Saturday night at Mosaic Stadium.
It was one thing for the Roughriders to have their three-game win streak snapped during Week 11 action, but for it to happen against a Winnipeg squad that had just one win in the first nine games of the season is almost unheard of. The bottom line is that Saskatchewan provided little protection for Darian Durant on Sunday as the signal caller was sacked a staggering eight times in a 25-13 loss.
Durant finished the outing 15-of-33 for a mere 129 yards and an interception, as the Riders ran into waves of Blue Bombers at every turn. Durant did manage to come up with a game-high 93 yards on eight rushing plays, but that mattered little in the final outcome as the visitors lost a pair of fumbles and generated just 288 yards of total offense.
After having just eight turnovers through the first nine games of the season, Saskatchewan was saddled with six giveaways on Sunday evening alone.
Geroy Simon caught a pass along the sidelines late in the first quarter that gave the Roughrider receiver 1,007 receptions for his career, second-most in CFL history. Simon is now chasing Ben Cahoon who holds the all-time mark with 1,017 catches.
While the Riders, who are now tied with Calgary atop the West Division standings with a record of 8-2, were being stunned by Winnipeg, Toronto got the upper hand versus Montreal on the road in a 37-30 final earlier on Sunday. The Argonauts had just five points at the break and trailed by double figures, but the team turned it around with a 23-point third quarter, eventually pulling off the seven-point road win in order to remain atop the East Division standings with 12 points.
Zach Collaros, subbing for the injured Ricky Ray who will be out for a considerable length of time with a shoulder injury, kicked the Toronto offense into gear as the team ran a total of 94 plays and controlled the action for almost 35 minutes. Collaros not only converted 30-of-43 passes for 336 yards and two touchdowns, while being picked off once and sacked five times, he also led the way with 42 rushing yards and a score on five carries.
Collaros recorded touchdown passes of 54 and five yards to John Chiles and Dontrelle Inman in the third and fourth quarters, respectively, to complete the comeback bid. Making a contribution on defense was Kiante Tripp who returned an interception 54 yards for a score as well. The unit was all over Montreal signal caller Tanner Marsh who tossed three picks and was sacked five times.
Not only were the Argos playing without Ray, the squad was also digging a bit deeper to fill the voids left by both Chad Kackert at running back and Chad Owens everywhere else on the field. All three remain on the injured list as of Tuesday afternoon, although you can never be quite sure if Owens will fight the odds and get back on the field this weekend.
On Monday, the Argos announced a move to provide some more depth at the running back position, acquiring Anthony Woodson in a trade with Winnipeg, sending away offensive lineman Marc Parenteau as both sides also exchanged future draft picks.
Owens continues to lead the league in combined yards, but his absence leaves a huge hole where inspired and gutsy play once was. Without Kackert, the leading ground gainer for the Argos now becomes Collaros who has registered 187 yards and scored three touchdowns, but the team cannot continue to put their starting quarterback in the cross hairs while Ray is sitting out.
While Toronto tries to figure out how to run the ball more effectively moving forward, Saskatchewan hopes to get Kory Sheets back on track after the league's leading rusher (1,214 yards) was held to a season-low 65 yards versus the Bombers. Since putting together six straight games with at least 130 rushing yards to begin the campaign, Sheets has been slowed to 91 yards or less in three of the last four outings.
But really, the key to the Riders offense continues to be Durant who is converting 65.1 percent of his pass attempts and, more importantly, has thrown a league-best 21 TDs and has been picked off only twice.
These two squads clashed during the third week of the season at Rogers Centre, with the Roughriders putting up a 39-28 victory, while scoring at least one touchdown in every quarter. During that encounter Durant threw three TDs for the visitors, while Ray had a pair of aerial majors but was also sacked three times during the setback.
With the victory the first time around, the Riders boosted their advantage in the all-time series, one that takes into account only regular-season bouts dating back to 1961, to 46-36-1.
Toronto may be the top team in the East Division right now, but with how poorly the rest of the teams are performing that really isn't saying too much. Collaros does bring some spunk and energy to the quarterback position, but he is still rough around the edges and a team like Saskatchewan will capitalize on such issues as the season begins to wind down.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Saskatchewan 35, Toronto 27
09/11 11:03:22 ET