VIDEO: Riders drop pre-season opener 31-24

By Joel Gasson
June 14, 2015 - 8:16am Updated: June 18, 2015 - 9:01am

The Saskatchewan Roughriders' first game of 2015 ended much like their last game of 2014 did, with a loss to the Edmonton Eskimos.

Unlike last year's Western Semifinal in Edmonton, this 31-24 loss doesn't really matter in the grand scheme of things. 

Perhaps the biggest storyline coming into the game was quarterback Darian Durant. Earlier in the week, head coach Corey Chamblin suggested Durant would start, then had second thoughts on Friday afternoon. 

Durant did start, playing most of the first quarter.

"I feel good. I was able to accomplish some of the things I wanted to," said Durant.

"First and foremost, just taking a hit. Falling on it, bracing myself."

Durant took a few hits early but bounced up like Rider fans have become accustomed to him doing before the Banjo Bowl last year. 

So, why was there was suddenly a second thought to giving Durant the start?

"Just wanted to make sure, was he ready to play? We were ready for him to play in the sense that we wanted to see the other guys," said Chamblin.

"It just seemed to work out that he played."

Durant was pulled from the game with under two minutes left in the first quarter. He finished 4-for-8 for 48 yards passing. 

The quarterback would have loved to move the ball a little bit more. But, Chamblin was satisfied with the work of his pivot, suggesting penalties may have stalled them a few times. 

Flag Fest

Pre-season football can often be difficult to watch. On this night, the officials made it even harder. 

They were busy throwing flags a combined 55 times for 450 yards. And those are just the penalties that were accepted. 

"They're making a stance on it. We just have to coach it better, it does change the game. It was a lot out there, it changed the game. We'll have to adjust," said head coach Corey Chamblin. 

Some of the flags could definitely be chalked up to the sloppiness of pre-season football. 

Overall though, it seems the men in stripes were ready to send a message and hope the players adjust over time.

"That's what the pre-season is for. We have a couple of games where we can get that out of our system," said Durant. 

Making a push

Heading into the game, Chamblin was looking for players to make life difficult on him ahead of the team's first set of cuts on Sunday. 

"There was some guys that stood up, there were some guys right at the bubble that, I think kind of held themselves steady," said Chamblin. 

He likely wasn't in much danger of not making the team, but receiver Alex Pierzchalski is one player who likely made the coaching staff take notice on this night. 

The second-year Rider didn't have a lot of yards, but did find the end zone and made a defender miss. 

"It was great to have a lot more to get settled and work my game. There was some positives out there but there was a number of negatives that I wasn't happy about," said Pierzchalski.

"Going to watch the film and go over what I made mistakes on."

A decision might soon be looming when it comes to the team's third string quarterback as well. 

Brett Smith finished the night 5-for-6 for 99 yards passing and a touchdown. During his time in the third quarter, Smith looked poised and confident with the football. He also showed his best strength a few times: his running ability.

"Brett did a good job when he was in there," said Chamblin.

"He definitely made his mark tonight."

Tino Sunseri meanwhile was 4-for-6 for 21 yards passing. 

The Riders will now return to Saskatoon for their regular week of practice. Their next game is Friday night at Mosaic Stadium against the Calgary Stampeders. 

900 CKBI is broadcasting every Rider game this season.  Listen for the pre-game show on Friday at 6:30 pm, kick off 7:30 pm.

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GAME DAY: Riders open pre-season in Fort McMurray

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