REGINA – Rob Bagg has been with the Roughriders long enough to know that football is always a hot topic in Regina.
Saskatchewan is coming off a 48-15 blowout loss to the Toronto Argonauts last week. As a result, countless hours of radio talk-show banter and roundtable discussions were devoted to the surprising rout as the highly scrutinized Roughriders fell to 1-1.
“Any time you lose you’re going to be frustrated or disappointed, all of those natural feelings,” Bagg said.
“But it is a six-month season and just like every play, you have to reload and move on to the next one.
“We’re playing B.C. this week and there’s nothing we can do about what happened in Toronto.”
Saskatchewan made some significant moves in preparation for Saturday’s home game against the winless B.C. Lions (0-2).
Less than 48 hours after the loss to the Argos, the Riders dealt veteran halfback Dwight Anderson to Toronto. On Wednesday, the Riders signed former 1,000-yard rusher Jerome Messam.
The 29-year-old Messam, who was cut by the Montreal Alouettes last month, is expected to dress for Saturday’s game. The transactions have created a buzz in what has been anything but a calm week for the defending Grey Cup champions.
“We knew after Week 1 that we were in for a test (in Toronto),” said Riders defensive end John Chick.
“They had a rough week the week before and we knew they were going to come back corrected. They were better prepared in all areas than what we were.
“It’s nothing about the sky falling here or anything like that. It’s about making corrections. We expect perfection and we expect to be a championship team. A performance like last week makes us realize that we have some work to do.”
Second-year Riders defensive back Macho Harris will take Anderson’s starting spot in the secondary, while Messam should get his feet wet on special teams versus the Lions.
Meanwhile, running back Hugh Charles will get the starting assignment over Anthony Allen, who has started the previous two weeks. Allen leads the CFL in rushing with 224 yards but has fumbled in each of the first two games this season.
Tristan Black has been pushing starter Sam Hurl at the weakside linebacker position this week at practice and should see more playing time versus the Lions. Slotback Chris Getzlaf won’t play Saturday because of a nagging quadriceps injury and fullback Neal Hughes won’t dress because of a foot injury.
Riders head coach Corey Chamblin is optimistic his team has moved on from the lopsided loss and is taking in stride the bevy of roster changes ahead of the B.C. game. He likes what he has seen at practice this week.
“I was pleased with their energy and I was pleased with their execution,” Chamblin said. “They’re bouncing back, they’re not looking back and they’re moving forward. Guys are starting to become leaders, new guys are starting to become more vocal and they’re starting to open up and trust one another.
“Before long, we’ll have the makings of a good team.”
The Riders expect a hungry Lions team that has dropped its first two games of the season, most recently a 24-9 defeat to the Montreal Alouettes. Quarterback Kevin Glenn, who is filling in for Travis Lulay, has thrown six interceptions in those two losses and running back Andrew Harris has just 63 rushing yards over that span.
Both the Lions and Riders will be looking to bounce back from poor performances in Week 2.
“It’s never as bad as you think it was and it’s never as good as you think it was,” Bagg said. “Most of what happened (in Toronto) didn’t have anything to do with the plays. It was more to do with poor execution and we just need to work better individually and that will take care of itself as a whole.”
© The Canadian Press, 2014