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CFL Preview - Saskatchewan (3-0) at Calgary (1-2)



From The Sports Network

By Gregg Xenakes, CFL Editor

DATE & TIME: Thursday, July 19, 9:00 p.m. (et).

GAME NOTES: Injuries in the CFL are starting to mount and no team knows this better than the Calgary Stampeders who are being forced to go without their starting quarterback for the rest of the season. The Stamps get their first full taste of life without Drew Tate as they host the undefeated Saskatchewan Roughriders at McMahon Stadium on Thursday night.

Several teams have suffered significant injuries mere weeks into the season, and the Stamps are no different with Tate electing to undergo surgery on his non-throwing (left) shoulder which was dislocated in the meeting with Toronto on July 7. As a result, Tate is expected to miss the remainder of the season and that leaves Kevin Glenn heading up the depth chart for a team that is 1-2 for the first time since 2009.

Glenn nearly guided the Stampeders to a victory over Montreal on the road last week, but a late flurry by the Alouettes sent Calgary packing in a 33-32 loss. Glenn converted 26-of-36 passes for 267 yards and was intercepted once. Backup quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell registered a pair of one-yard TD runs for a team that has scored at least 32 points in each game thus far, and leads the league in scoring with 35.3 ppg.

Unfortunately, even though Calgary has been able to pile up the points, the defense has been mediocre at best. If not for the mere 10 points allowed to Montreal in the season opener, the numbers would appear even more dismal for the group after three weeks of action.

Saskatchewan, the last of the unbeatens after three weeks of action, captured a narrow 23-20 win over visiting British Columbia last Saturday. The offense for the Roughriders struggled to produce 266 yards overall and needed the help from the special teams unit to get them over the hump.

Kicker Chris Milo accounted for 11 points, converting three field goals and a pair of extra points, while Tristan Jackson electrified the crowd with a thrilling 129-yard missed field goal return for a touchdown which proved to be the difference in the outcome.

Quarterback Darian Durant hit on 18-of-28 passes for 172 yards and Kory Sheets accounted for the only other major for the team, that coming on a one-yard run in the second quarter, as he tallied a game-high 76 yards on 15 attempts for the hosts.

Durant hasn't been stealing the spotlight in the early going, but he's not making costly mistakes either. Through three games he is the only regular starter who has yet to throw an interception and his 106.0 efficiency rating is second only to Montreal's Anthony Calvillo. Because Durant has been cautious with the ball, the Riders have the best turnover margin in the league with a plus-eight, and everyone will tell you that turnovers can make or break a team depending on which side of that line they fall on.

Another positive for Saskatchewan that might not be jumping off the stat sheet is the fact that it is the least-penalized team at the moment with just 19 infractions, amounting to a loss of only 140 yards. No other club is surrendering fewer than 71 yards per game in penalties heading into the fourth week of the season.

Even though Glenn is one of the more accurate passers in the league with 75.9 percent success, the Stamps as a whole are one of the weaker teams in terms of turnovers at the moment, tied for sixth in the CFL at minus-four in the department. While the team gives the ball away a bit too frequently, it is hard to argue with a squad that is generating so many points per contest.

Glenn has to continue to play error-free football because even though Calgary is comfortable as the team with the second-most rushing attempts in the league (64), it is getting less-than-average results with just 4.3 yards per attempt, and that's no way to take the pressure off the quarterback.

Calgary swept the Riders in 2011, winning all four games played between the two. Calgary won the two games at McMahon by scores of 40-3 in Week 14 and 25-13 three weeks later. Saskatchewan actually went winless against the West in 2011, losing all 10 games played within the division, but already the club has two wins in as many opportunities versus the division this year.

There are times when it appears the Roughriders are getting the job done with smoke and mirrors, but by leading the league in points allowed (12.3 ppg), Saskatchewan is definitely doing something right and probably will again this week as it attacks a Calgary offense which is having to reorganize.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Saskatchewan 31, Calgary 23

07/18 10:52:51 ET

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