Riders looking to bounce back against Alouettes | Globalnews.ca

Dealing with a nightmarish loss isn’t easy, but Cody Fajardo believes the Saskatchewan Roughriders are up for the task.

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The Riders, coming off a short week, were defeated 37-13 by the Montreal Alouettes on June 23. It was a game that started poorly for the Riders. Montreal’s Chandler Worthy took the kickoff 88 yards for a touchdown.

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Fajardo admitted that the Riders, who host the Als on Saturday in Regina, were a bit overwhelmed at the start and couldn’t find a way to turn the tide.

“They go back on kickoff and doubt starts to creep in,” Fajardo said. “You are already seven points down. Then, on our first play of the game, we had a miscommunication and missed assignment that almost went to a pick-six. And then the next one was a pitch to Shaq (Evans) and he was probably half an inch out of bounds, so go two and out. Then they get a field goal and you’re looking at an early 10-0 deficit and we had only had two plays. As an offense, it’s hard to top that.”

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The offensive problems were compounded by an impressive performance from the Montreal defense, which posted eight sacks and three interceptions.

It was the Riders’ first game without starting center Dan Clark, who suffered a fractured fibula June 18 in a 26-16 win over the Edmonton Elks. With Clark sidelined, rookie Logan Bandy entered the lineup against the Alouettes with just one practice to prepare for his first CFL start.

Bandy’s inexperience, combined with a lack of practice time and the strength of Montreal’s defense, resulted in a long night for the Riders.

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Riders head coach Craig Dickenson feels the offensive line shouldn’t bear the brunt of the blame for the eight sacks.

“I think our offensive line played better than the eight sacks would indicate,” Dickenson said. “I thought they competed hard and for the most part stayed in front of the defensive linemen, but that’s a good defensive front.

“They did a good job of disguising some things and forcing us to hold on to the ball a little bit longer than we wanted to. And yes, Bandy made a couple of mistakes, so it was a perfect storm, but not everything was on the line. Not everything was in the quarterback. And not everything was in the back, they shared the responsibility.

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“Now we’ve had adequate time to set things up, clean things up and hopefully be a much better team and play much better than we did.”

After not allowing a sack in Week 1, the Riders have allowed 11 sacks in the last two games. That’s the highest two-game total for the Riders since October 2016, when they allowed 12 sacks against BC and Montreal.

The Riders may have it a little easier on Saturday, as Montreal will be without defensive lineman Almondo Sewell, who is unavailable due to a personal issue. The 35-year-old veteran is one of the best defensive players in the league and had two sacks in last week’s win.

In addition to Clark’s injury, the Riders’ offense is also dealing with the absence of Evans, who suffered a broken ankle in the first quarter of last week’s loss. This is the second straight season that Evans has been sidelined with a serious injury. He missed seven games in 2021 with a broken leg.

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Evans is expected to miss six to eight weeks with the ankle injury and will be replaced this week by Regina’s Mitch Picton.

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Saturday, Mosaic Stadium

ALS BY THE NUMBERS: Heading into Week 4, Montreal had the leading running back, receiver and scorer. Jeshrun Antwi has 172 rushing yards, Eugene Lewis has 307 receiving yards and kicker David Cote has 40 points.

SACK ATTACK: Riders defensive end Pete Robertson leads the CFL with five sacks and has recorded a sack in all three games this season. In 11 games last season as a rookie, Robertson had five sacks off the bench.

SAVING THE BEST FOR LAST: The Riders have scored 69 points in three games this season with 39 of those points coming in the fourth quarter. They have scored 30 points in the other three quarters combined.

Click to play video: 'Roughriders defense looks for better effort in rematch with Als on Sunday'

Roughriders defense looking for better effort in rematch with Als on Sunday

Roughriders defense looking for better effort in rematch with Als on Sunday

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