(12-6 in 2008 - 2nd in West Division)
Key Addition: SB Jason Clermont - Impact Canadian receivers are a valuable commodity and this Regina native will be a crowd favourite at Mosiac Stadium. The Lions' loss is the Riders' gain.
Other Signings and Acquisitions: OL Jordan Rempel, Defensive Coordinator Gary Etcheverry, DB Donovan Alexander, LB Aaron Wagner
Key Deletion: Defensive Coordinator Richie Hall - The man behind the stingiest defence in the league has taken his gameplan to Edmonton and taken some players (Lloyd, Jones and Gordon) with him.
Other Releases and Deletions: WR Matt Dominguez, WR D.J. Flick, OL Glenn January, WR Brandon Myles, OL Steve Morley, DB Tristan Clovis, S Scott Gordon, DB James Johnson, LB Kitwana Jones, LB Maurice Lloyd, LB Anton McKenzie
Matt Dunigan's Quarterback Analysis: The Riders were a QB merry-go-round last year, somewhat by necessity and somewhat self-induced. This year, coach Miller has told me that he plans on giving the ball to Darian Durant and letting him play the game with a longer leash without fear of making a mistake. Only time will tell how long that leash will be. Durant seemed ready and quite capable last year when it was his turn to ride the merry-go-round. He operated @ a high level of effeciency and execution before having his ribs broken! I have been a Paul LaPolice fan for a while now and I really think 'LaPo' is coming into his own lately. He does a fine job of Offensive Coordinating and putting his QBs in packages that suit their styles and skill sets. He will have to continue to package small with some young, talented QBs by the names of Steven Jyles, Juan Joseph and Dalton Bell. All these Rider hopefuls are relatively inexperienced with limited playing time (PT). So that leash with Darian should be a long one. Bottom line, let Durant play!!!
Jock Climie's Offensive Analysis: Any team that can boast Weston Dressler (last year's Rookie of the Year) and outstanding slot back Andy Fantuz is well on its way to having a superb receiving corps. Add Jason Clermont to the mix and things get interesting. However, unless the Riders can find themselves a vertical stretch receiver, they simply won't strike fear into the hearts of opposing defenders. Can they be efficient? Yes. Dangerous or explosive? No. Of course, the biggest question mark will be who is going to be handed the ball from under centre. Last year, the Riders were competitive with a merry-go-round at quarterback. Don’t be surprised if it happens again in 2009. The Green Riders will once again be turning to Wes Cates to anchor their ground game. One would be hard pressed to think of a better man to have at the tailback position. Cates can do it all. He is a smooth and intelligent runner, an excellent receiver out of the backfield and an effective pass blocker. It will be tough to keep him healthy, given the number of touches he is going to get, game in and game out.
Glen Suitor's Defensive Analysis: No matter how you spin it, the Riders were hit hard in free agency and had a bunch of departures in the off-season, losing their defensive coordinator, two of three linebackers and two of five in the starting secondary. The biggest loss may have been the most recent when Kitwana Jones was traded to Edmonton. The Riders will have a very different look on defence in 2009. Change however, isn't always a bad thing. Gary Etcheverry replaces Richie Hall as the defensive coordinator and has plenty of experience in the CFL. And Sean Lucas, one of the most underrated players on their defence from a year ago, is back. As is Scott Shultz on the defensive line, who will be leaned on big-time to provide leadership for what could be a young and inexperienced group. Also, the Riders do have some tremendous proven talent on offence, and with a good start to the season, that group could buy some time for the defence to find its identity.
Duane Forde's Canadian Content: The Roughriders have built excellent depth among their non-imports... and it's a good thing they have. By the time training camp was three days old, two projected Canadian starters, tackle Wayne Smith and cornerback Leron Mitchell, had already been placed on the nine-game injured list, and another, O-Lineman Joe McGrath, had requested and received a trade back to his old team in Edmonton. Saskatchewan hopes that those losses will be offset by the winter acquisitions of Regina native and three-time 1,000-yard receiver Jason Clermont and cornerback Donovan Alexander, as well as the signings of 2008 draft choices centre Jonathan St. Pierre and defensive end Mike Stadnyk, another Regina product. Not to be overlooked among all the new faces are a productive crew of returnees, including slotback Andy Fantuz, nose tackle Scott Schultz, guard Gene Makowsky, and centre Jeremy O'Day.
Chris Schultz's Overview: The Riders will have some good QBs in camp but to expect an unknown to explode into the next Kent Austin is unlikely. It is more likely that improvement will be seen in Durant, which in turn, creates confidence from the coaching staff. And the defence will be different under Gary Etcheverry. It may be more aggressive than Richie Hall's scheme but I don't anticipate a decline of any kind. More...
What Makes Them Good? The Roughriders have the most ardent fans in the league and Rider-Nation across the country wills this team to overachieve.
What Makes Them Vulnerable? When defence is your strength and your defensive coordinator becomes the head coach of a division rival, the impact can be immediate.
Coach Miller Say... "Darian Durant shows leadership in a lot of little ways. He's never going to be the guy out in front beating the drum but in his own way, he provides excellent leadership." - Saskatoon Star Phoenix.
2008 Team Leaders
||Wes Cates, 14
||Weston Dressler, 1,123
||Wes Cates, 1,229
||Sean Lucas, 95
||Maurice Lloyd, 5
Kitwana Jones, 5
|Lance Frazier, 5
2009 Draft Picks