Wednesday, 22 June 2011

8 Teams, 8 Days: Saskatchewan Roughriders

Last Season: 10-8, 2nd in the West (Lost Grey Cup 21-18 to Montreal)

You don't normally see a lot of change coming from a team that goes to two straight Grey Cups, but Saskatchewan will enter 2011 much differently than they did 2010.

Following his second consecutive Grey Cup loss to the Montreal Alouettes, Ken Miller stepped down as Head Coach and moved exclusively into the role of General Manager. Miller hired long-time Defensive Coordinator Greg Marshall (late of Hamilton) to be the team's new Head Coach. Marshall quickly hired Richie Hall (formerly of Edmonton) to be his Defensive Coordinator.

The biggest loss for the Riders is that of Receiver Andy Fantuz. Last season, Fantuz led the CFL in receiving yards and was named the league's Most Outstanding Canadian. Replacing his production will not be easy.

One man expected to fill Fantuz's void was Rob Bagg, but Bagg suffered a setback in his return from a devastating knee injury, and it is unknown when he will be able to resume his playing career.

Despite the losses, the Riders return a bulk of the players from last year's club. Darian Durant is back behind Centre; Weston Dressler and Chris Getzlaf are still around to catch passes; Running Back Wes Cates is coming off his best season; and Barrin Simpson is still around to man the middle of the Defense.

With all that being said, the Riders look like a team that will take a couple of steps back in 2011. As talented as this team is, you don't just replace the league's leading Receiver, especially when he is a Canadian. A lot of questions surround this Roughrider team, and I don't think a third straight trip to the Grey Cup is in the cards. This is still a playoff team, but this doesn't look like a championship team.

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