The annual Banjo Bowl has official come to an end as the Saskatchewan Roughriders embarrassed former Rider Michael Bishop and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers 55-10. Saskatchewan lead in nearly all categories as the only place the Blue Bombers really beat the Roughriders was in kick returning, but I think it's fair to say that definitely wasn't enough.
Roughriders slot back Andy Fantuz finally returned from injury this game and had his ups and downs. He had 2 catches for 64 yards and 1 touchdown, but also had some plays that left Rider fans slightly worried. There were at least two passes that quarterback Darian Durant through beautifully, but it looked as though Fantuz didn't even bother to stick his arms out or dive for them. Although he had 1 spectacular touchdown reception thrown by WR Jason Armstead on a reverse play, on many plays Fantuz looked like he didn't want to put his body on the line to make a grab.
Wes Cates had a great game with 100 all purpose yards on only 15 touches. His display was better than the CFL's leading rusher Fred Reid who had 82 all purpose yards and one less touchdown then Cates who had 2.
The quarterbacking battle was definitely won by Saskatchewan as the Riders' QB's combined for 262 yards, 1 touchdown and 1 interception on 20-38 attempts. The Bombers also used 2 quarterbacks that game, but for different reasons. Michael Bishop and Bryan Randall both got in that game and combined threw 30 passes but only completed 11. They also didn't throw for any touchdowns, had only 124 yards and had 4 interceptions. Which brings me to my next point, turnovers.
Turnovers were a huge factor in the game as the Blue Bombers had 8 and the Riders only had 1. The Riders had 21 points off turnovers which made it real tough for the Bombers to stay in the game.
Many Rider fans didn't understand how off-season acquisition Jason Clermont was a healthy scratch. Clermont has been heavily under utilized this season and the fans have noticed. He has not been close to living up to expectations but I do not think it is fair to blame him for all of this. There have been many plays this season where Clermont has been wide open, but Darian Durant has failed to find him. When Clermont does get the ball, he has made good things happen. Whether it is yards after the catch or drawing pass interference calls, when he does get the ball, he makes the most of it.
It is unknown why Clermont was a healthy scratch when players such as Adam Nicolson were still on the roster. The Roughriders have seemed to have intrest in Bombers middle linebacker Barrin Simpson who recently asked to be traded, which is my guess on why Clermont didn't play. My hypothesis is that the Riders have a trade proposition for Simpson which included Clermont going to the Bombers, and the Bombers didn't want to risk him getting injured before the trade. I would assume the trade would include Clermont, either Stephen Jyles or Dalton Bell and another defensive player going to the Bombers for middle linebacker Barrin Simpson. This would be a great trade for both teams as the Riders are in need of a middle linebacker with starter Rey Williams being injured and it would work out well for Winnipeg as well since they are in need of a quarterback.
Whether this trade goes through or not, the Riders are currently in very good position as they are tied for 1st in the West with the Calgary Stampeders and only seem to be improving.