'We're going to run the damn ball': Roughriders keen to focus on ground game this season
A healthy competition has been brewing at Saskatchewan Roughriders training camp over the weekend.
Following the departure of starting running back William Powell to the Ottawa RedBlacks in the offseason, the Roughriders are ready to establish a new identity on the ground after a lacklustre statistical year that saw the team finish sixth out of nine teams in rushing offence.
“We’re going to run the damn ball. Try and stop us,” running backs coach Kelly Jeffrey said.
Hoping to help Jeffrey accomplish his bullish goal are Shaq Cooper and Jamal Morrow.
The pair have been roommates while the Roughriders are at training camp in Saskatoon, creating plenty of moments to bond off the field as they compete for a job on the field.
With less than three weeks until the regular season, most conversations lead to the playbook.
“We teach each other, we help each other out on a lot of stuff. Just being there for each other. That's what he's about,” Cooper said of Morrow.
“Nine (times) out of 10, when we’re talking we’re going over plays.”
Morrow feels the growing relationship with Cooper is a natural fit so far.
“As soon as I met him, we clicked right away,” Morrow said.
“We got a lot of things in common … so it’s definitely cool to room with him and form that bond and friendship.”
Morrow is the only holdover on the depth chart amongst American backs. After seeing spot duty last season, he is the lone back the coaching staff is familiar with, but he doesn’t see the starting role as his to lose.
“I wouldn’t say that,” Morrow said with a smile.
“I don’t look at it as a job to lose. It’s more of a just going out there to do what I do and wherever the chips fall, that’s where they fall.”
However, Morrow's head coach sees him as having an advantage to earn the starting role.
“All things being equal, we will go with a veteran player that knows the system and knows how we do things,” Craig Dickenson said.
Dickenson also sees Frankie Hickson and Troymaine Pope as two other running backs he’s enjoyed watching so far in training camp.
Jeffrey is in his first training camp with the Roughriders after being hired over the winter. Being a new coach with the team means there are no favourites, making it a truly open competition for playing time.
“I think having some new eyes on it is always good. You know, I get a fresh perspective. I think none of those guys feel like they're going to be slotted in somewhere without a chance to earn a position, so everybody's got an opportunity to earn,” he said.
“I'm not giving anybody any special privileges.”
Cooper arrives in Saskatchewan after splitting last year between the B.C. Lions and Winnipeg Blue Bombers. Prior to that, he spent two years with the Edmonton Elks under then-head coach Jason Maas.
He sees that familiarity with the now Riders offensive coordinator as a path to success this season.
“You guys may not see it, but it’s the little stuff, you know. So it’s a bonus, being a veteran and just knowing everything and helping other guys out,” Cooper said.
Schemes, matchups and plays fade into the distance when a starting role on the team is on the line. When Morrow and Cooper put their helmets on, the jokes quickly turn into serious competition.
“If you want it, you got to go get it,” Cooper said.
Saskatoon Top Stories
CTVNews.ca Top Stories
As Canadian airports deal with their own set of problems amid the busy summer travel season, by no means are they alone.
Slovyansk could become the next major target in Moscow's campaign to take the Donbas region, Ukraine's predominantly Russian-speaking industrial heartland.
Turkish customs authorities have detained a Russian cargo ship carrying grain which Ukraine says is stolen, Ukraine's ambassador to Turkey said on Sunday.
It's been said no one's success is complete without failure, but a new international exhibit in Calgary is proving that even some of the most talented innovators had some of the worst ideas for consumers.
An Ontario high school teacher plans to continue with an alternative method of grading her students after an experiment last semester in which students proposed a grade and had to justify it with examples of their work.
Thousands of residents in Sydney suburbs were told to evacuate their homes on Sunday after heavy rains caused floodwaters to rise and rivers to overflow in what authorities called life-threatening emergencies.
Parts of a mountain glacier collapsed in the Italian Alps on Sunday amid record temperatures, local authorities said, killing at least six people and injuring eight.
The Saskatchewan Roughriders offence caught fire in the third quarter and burned the Alouettes for 21 points in a 41-20 win over the Montreal Alouettes on Saturday night at Mosaic Stadium.
A Regina man is facing attempted murder charges after an incident on Saturday night.
The Saskatchewan Roughriders’ starting quarterback is the first to admit he’s not playing at one hundred percent. The 30-year old pivot has sustained some big hits this season, leading to his wearing of a protective knee brace.
A man from Shamattawa First Nation is being treated for serious injuries after an RCMP officer-involved shooting Saturday afternoon.
Longstanding staff shortages in rural emergency rooms are continuing to create problems, with some being forced to close or cut their hours.
A portrait of Siksika Nation Chief Ouray Crowfoot was unveiled Saturday night in Calgary.
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney has indicated his United Conservative government will reveal details next week about additional support to help people deal with high inflation.
A 13-year-old girl from Edmonton who had been missing for more than a week was safely located in Oregon, where a man, 41, is in police custody and facing charges.
Two people died and four others including a nine-month-old baby were injured in a pair of crashes that occurred two hours apart in Peel Region overnight.
'We just don’t have clear information': Nearly 250 GTA child care centres have applied for $10 a day program
Nearly 250 child care centres have signalled their intent to opt into the federal government’s $10-a-day program since applications opened across most of the Greater Toronto Area last week but hundreds of others remain on the sidelines.
This man arrived from Calgary 16 days ago. He is still looking for his bags at Toronto Pearson airport
As unclaimed luggage continue to pile up at Pearson International Airport, one local resident has been looking for his bags for 16 days after arriving in Toronto.
An Ottawa epidemiologist says expanding eligibility of COVID-19 boosters to allow adults to get a fourth dose if they wish could help stem a possible fall wave.
Ottawa Bylaw says another 22 vehicles were towed out of downtown Ottawa on Saturday and more than 150 parking tickets were issued as the city’s vehicle control zone remains in effect.
Emergency crews responded to reports a 30-foot vessel was on fire in the Rideau Ferry area on Saturday.
Mounties in Coquitlam are asking the public for help locating a 35-year-old Indigenous woman wanted on a warrant under the provincial Mental Health Act.
The Caps came in below the playoff line in Major League Soccer's Western Conference, and seemed to be in tough as they hosted league-leaders Los Angeles FC, a team that has dominated nearly every club in its path this season.
At this time of year, when many Quebecers move into a new home, there may be an increase in infestations of invaders such as bed bugs. Anyone can be affected by these unwanted pests and it is important to report cases.
A Montreal conservation group is baffled and frustrated after a field of shrubs, flowers, and, importantly, milkweed was mowed.
New Brunswick's education minister is lashing out at Air Canada, saying the airline is incompetent because it decided on the weekend to cancel a Monday flight that would have taken him and four officials to a meeting in Regina.
A 32-year-old man has been arrested after he allegedly drove into an RCMP vehicle before fleeing from police.
A 50-year-old New Brunswick woman is facing an impaired driving charge following a head-on collision with a fully marked RCMP vehicle in the village of Tracadie.
Mining giant, Newmont Porcupine in Timmins is finished phase one of a land use plan-a partnership agreement it has with the city. It's a spectacular lookout area where people can watch mining activity happening in the Hollinger open pit mine and see many familiar areas of the city's landscape.
Bluegrass music is the key to success for a River Valley campground.
Retro video gamers, card collectors, and vintage toy enthusiasts descended upon the Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre in the Sault for Steel City NerdCon. This is the first such event since COVID restrictions were lifted, bringing in large crowds. Some attendees dressed up as their favourite sci-fi, fantasy and comic book characters.
The London Fire Department tackled a blaze at a home in south London early Sunday morning, which claimed the life of two pets and racked up approximately $250,000 in damages.
Heavy smoke and loud explosions woke up a number of residents in a high-rise apartment Saturday morning on Capulet Lane in London, Ont. when a fire broke out in the parking garage next to their building.