The Roughriders run game struggled to get off the ground all season but took off in a big way against Hamilton last week.
The team ran for a combined 218 rushing yards including an 80-yard touchdown by Marcus Thigpen and a 70-yard effort for Jerome Messam.
“Our offensive line did a great job and we just stuck with it, kept calling run plays and those guys went on to execute and made it easy for the backs,” Messam explained after Wednesday’s practice.
“It’s the running backs trusting us,” added centre Dan Clark when asked what worked last week. “Not saying they didn’t trust us before but they knew we were going to be where we were supposed to be and it worked out … we didn’t start out great with the run game (Thursday) but staying with that consistency and continuing to try and that’s all we had to do.”
Messam is hoping for another big game this week as he plays against his former team – the Calgary Stampeders – Saturday night.
It’s the first time this season that the two western rivals will match up against each other. The Roughriders head into the game at 3-2, while the Stampeders are off to the same impressive start people have come to expect at 5-0.
“Obviously, I looked forward to (playing) Calgary. Being there the last few seasons and getting a chance to go against those guys this week with them playing great football and being undefeated right now, it’s a great chance for us to go in there and knock them off,” Messam said.
And while you may expect Messam to want to show his former team what they’re missing, he said he understands football is a business and it’s all excitement instead. After all, Messam spent the better part of the last three years facing off against the Stampeders formidable defence in practice.
“I get to go against (2017 CFL defensive player of the year) Alex Singleton for the first time not in practice, so it’ll be fun,” Messam said.
“There’s a lot of trash talk on the field in practices so it’s going to be fun to go against those guys in real live action.”
Those guys have arguably been the best defence in the CFL so far this year. Calgary has allowed no more than 14 points in their five games this year, which certainly has a lot to do with their undefeated record.
“As an offensive line we have to be extra prepared this week especially with how good their defence is,” stressed Dan Clark.
But Messam thinks the pressure is actually on Calgary “to keep the streak going.”
“We want to stick it to everybody but them being in first place and playing so well – I think it’ll be a good test to see how we match up,” Messam added.