He’s arguably the best running back in the game right now and the Roughriders are looking to stop him.
Andrew Harris is the backbone of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers offence and with good reason. The 31-year-old Winnipeg native leads the league in rushing yards and rushing touchdowns, with 805 and seven respectively, and is also a threat as a receiver. Beyond his skill as a running back, Harris has 311 receiving yards and two additional touchdowns.
“He’s one of the best players in the league regardless of nationality,” head coach Chris Jones said on Thursday. “I mean he’s averaging something like six, seven yards a carry so I mean any time you touch it and you have a guy that’s averaging that many yards you do a lot of things good.”
It means the Roughriders will have to be at their very best against Harris, both at the line of scrimmage and out in the secondary.
Defensive tackle Zack Evans didn’t seem too worried about what Harris brings to the game.
“We have a great (defensive) line, we have good run stoppers and not many teams can run the ball on use efficiently,” Evans said. “Obviously there’s a couple here and there that can do a little better than most but Andrew Harris is a dual threat, he can catch it he can throw it he can run it he can do everything.”
Perhaps no one knows that like defensive lineman Eddie Steele, who has been playing football against Harris since they were teenagers. The pair have developed a friendship over years of playing against one another in Winnipeg before they both made it to the CFL.
“I”m just trying to hit him to be honest. I’m just trying to bang him,” Steele said with a laugh. “He’s a great player, crucial piece of their offence and if we can get as many hats on him every play we can, that’ll be big for us.”
“Getting hats” on running backs is something that the Roughriders have been quite good at this year. The Roughriders are one of the best defences in the league at stopping the run. They’ve allowed 705 yards rushing so far this season, good enough for second in the league behind Calgary. Saskatchewan opponents also gain the fewest average yards per carry in all of the CFL at 4.6 yards and the Riders have allowed just five rushing touchdowns.
All of this means it will be an interesting match up between the 5-5 Bombers and the 5-4 Riders on Sunday. When the two teams go head-to-head for the first time this season.
Kick off is at 1 p.m. At Mosaic Stadium. The Green Zone pre-game show begins at 11 a.m.