Rams host home opener this Friday against Calgary (VIDEO)

The Rams host their Canada West home opener this Friday night (7:00) against the No. 5-ranked Calgary Dinos. Access7 will air the game live with canadawest.tv picking up the feed and providing live statistics, while 620 CKRM will have the contest live on the dial.

 AGAINST CALGARY: The Rams have played no Canada West team more often over the past five years than Calgary, as the two squads will clash for the 13th time since 2008 on Friday night at Mosaic. The Dinos have won 11 of the last 12 meetings with the Rams, with the U of R’s lone win in that span coming in a 12-9 home victory last season that featured a lengthy interception return touchdown by Joey Dwyer. Overall, Calgary comes into the game with a 12-6 all-time advantage in conference games and a 4-2 edge in postseason contests.

LAST WEEK: It looked like the Rams’ season opener at No. 9 Saskatchewan was going to be a blowout as the Huskies led 32-7 at the half, but the U of R scored 26 points in a span of less than nine minutes in the third and fourth quarters to tie the game at 33-33. A Saskatchewan touchdown midway through the fourth quarter proved to be the difference, though, as Saskatchewan was able to escape with a 40-33 victory.

NEXT WEEK: The Rams continue the Canada West schedule next Saturday with a Week 3 game at Alberta. It will mark the first of two meetings between the two teams this season, as the Rams and Golden Bears will also clash in a Week 6 game in Regina (Oct. 5).

McCONKEY CHASING HISTORY: Mark McConkey had three receptions last week against Saskatchewan, giving the fifth-year slotback a total of 160 for his career. He now needs just three catches to surpass former UBC receiver Brad Coutts for second place on Canada West’s all-time list and can overtake former teammate Chad Goldie as the conference’s all-time leader with 14 more catches. The CIS career record is held by former McGill University receiver Charles-Antoine Sinotte (251).

RANKINGS: Three Canada West teams are ranked in the poll for the second week in a row, though Calgary dropped two spots to No. 5 despite opening the season with a 41-31 road win over UBC last Saturday. Saskatchewan (No. 8) and Manitoba (No. 9) both moved up one spot in the poll after Week 1 wins, while the Rams ended up with a single vote.

UNDER CENTRE: University of Hawaii transfer Cayman Shutter got the start at quarterback for the Rams last Friday. He completed 20 of his 40 pass attempts for a total of 319 yards, including a 98-yard touchdown pass to Kolten Solomon that stands as the fifth longest passing play in U of R history. Shutter also scrambled three times for a total of 11 yards in his Canada West debut.

LONG PLAYS: Though the Rams were on the losing end of a 40-33 decision to Saskatchewan last week, there were several individual highlights during the game. Besides Cayman Shutter’s long ball to Kolten Solomon (see above), the Rams got a 59-yard interception return from Connor Ketchen and Tevaughn Campbell had a 71-yard kickoff return and a 52-yard punt return. Ketchen’s interception return was tied for the fifth longest in school history, while Campbell’s lengthy kickoff return is the fifth longest ever recorded by a U of R player (and the longest since Neal Hughes had 89-yard and 80-yard kickoff returns against Saint Mary’s in the 2000 Atlantic Bowl).

TRIPLE DIGITS TIMES TWO: Both Addison Richards and Kolten Solomon piled up 105 receiving yards last week at Saskatchewan. It’s the first time two different U of R players have hit triple digits in the same game in almost three years, as the last time it happened was on Oct. 29, 2010 at Saskatchewan when Brenden Owens ended up with 110 yards and Jared Janotta had 107. Current quarterbacks coach Marc Mueller was under centre that game for the Rams.

RAMS IN THE NFL: Though Stefan Charles was waived by Tennessee last week, he was immediately signed to the Titans’ practice squad so the U of R still boasts three former players in the NFL including Charles, defensive lineman Akiem Hicks (New Orleans) and punter Jon Ryan (Seattle). Only eight non-NCAA Div. I schools have at least three current NFLers, led by five each from the California University of Pennsylvania and Grand Valley State. The others are Mount Union (NCAA Div. III) with four and NCAA Div. II schools Missouri Western, Midwestern State, Valdosta State, and Washburn joining the U of R with three players apiece.

RAMS IN THE CFL: In addition to their three NFL players, the Rams also have seven players currently on CFL rosters. That list is highlighted by Chris Getzlaf and Brendon LaBatte – who both play key roles for the 7-1 Saskatchewan Roughriders – and Brett Jones, who’s starting at centre for the Calgary Stampeders as a rookie. The list of 10 former Rams in the professional ranks doesn’t include talented long snapper Jorgen Hus, who was waived by St. Louis (NFL) two weeks ago and could end up with former teammate Chris Mercer in Edmonton if he doesn’t get another NFL offer.

CANADA WEST PRESEASON POLL: The conference coaches’ poll was released on Wednesday, and five-time defending Canada West champion Calgary was again picked as the favourite after receiving four out of a possible five first-place votes and a total of 47 points in the poll. Both Saskatchewan and Manitoba also received a first-place vote, with the Huskies finishing second in the poll with 38 points and the Bisons in third place with 32 points. The Rams and UBC tied for fourth place in the poll with 17 points.

 JANOTTA MOVING UP THE CHARTS: With a full season of CIS eligibility remaining after this year, fourth-year slotback Jared Janotta is moving up the U of R’s all-time lists in several receiving categories. Janotta, who was a Canada West all-star in 2012, has 98 career receptions and is poised to become just the eighth player in U of R history to hit the 100 mark. He also moved up to No. 11 in school history in career receiving yards (1256) last week and needs just 31 yards to move past Chris Getzlaf for tenth place.

SMITH MAKES CIS DEBUT: The U of R landed heralded defensive tackle Calvin Smith in the offseason, bolstering a defensive line that has been extremely strong for the Rams over the past few seasons. Smith made his debut last week at Saskatchewan, but was injured early in the game. It was his first action since 2010 at the NCAA Div. I level with the University of New Mexico, when he played in all 12 of the Lobos’ games as a true freshman and collected 13 tackles and a sack while in a steady rotation on the defensive line. Smith was listed as a four-star prospect by both Rivals.com and ESPN, with ESPN ranking him as the No. 20 defensive tackle in the class and Rivals.com slotting him 26th.

NEW LINE: The Rams graduated 20 fifth-year players from last season’s roster and lost two players to professional football, and no position got hit harder than the offensive line where the team lost starters Brenden Bennett, Steve Hanson, Brett Jones, and Chris Mercer and key reserves Anthony Dale and Joel Hrycyk. And the Rams lost both Aaron Picton and Nathan Cugnet last week against Saskatchewan, finishing the game with a line consisting of three first-year players and a pair of first-year starters in their third season of eligibility – Jeremy Zver (LT), Kyle Paterson (LG), Bryce McKinnon (C), Lyndon Smith (RG), and Matt Degelman (RT).

SACK WATCH: The Rams might have former defensive linemen Akiem Hicks and Stefan Charles in the NFL right now, but it’s Logan Brooks that has a chance to take over as the school’s all-time sacks leader. Brooks has 10½ sacks in his career with the Rams, needing one more to overtake Sean Brimacombe for second place in University of Regina history and three more to pass Stan Van Sichem for first.

SWITCHING SPORTS – TAKE 1: Followers of U of R sports might see a familiar name starting on the offensive line, as Jeremy Zver has been a key reserve for the men’s basketball team over the last two years and return to football for the first time since starring for Balfour Collegiate in 2010. Zver has appeared in 36 Canada West hoops games in his career, scoring a total of 87 points and pulling down 65 rebounds.

SWITCHING SPORTS – TAKE 2: Running back Jens Johnson is in his first year with the Rams after playing a Junior A career that spanned three full seasons in the SJHL. Johnson spent two years with the Weyburn Red Wings before splitting the 2012-13 season between Weyburn and Notre Dame. A defenceman, Johnson scored eight goals and added 40 assists for 48 points in 150 career regular season SJHL games.

SWITCHING SPORTS – TAKE 3: Let’s add defensive back Jeff Propp to this list, who is expected to be on the team’s 50-man roster this Friday against the Dinos. Propp, who was a multi-sport standout for Balfour Collegiate in Regina, redshirted last season with the U of R’s men’s basketball team and is in his first season with the Rams.

 

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