Roughriders sack numbers catching up to their play

Team second in the league in quarterback sacks through six weeks
Reported by Joel Gasson
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It's been a good year to be a Roughriders defensive lineman, so far anyway.

All year they've done a pretty good job at getting pressure on the quarterback, but the numbers haven't really reflected that until recently.

The last two weeks against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, a team with perhaps a less than stellar offensive line, the Riders piled up 12 sacks in those two games, for a total of 22 on the season. That number actually had them in the league lead until the Winnipeg Blue Bombers re-gained the lead Monday night in Vancouve, this despite not playing at all last week. The Riders only need 13 sacks the rest of the year to pass their 2012 season total.

"We've been getting the pressure, I'm just glad we've got some stats to back it up now," said defensive lineman Keith Shologan.

The pass rush is something that has haunted the Roughriders for the last few years, actually since the last time defensive end John Chick was in Green and White. This year, the year he returned to Riderville, the pass rush has become in vogue again, and it's really all five men that have done the job so far.

Yes five, as the team's leader in sacks is actually linebacker Rey Williams, who at times appears to be lined up as a fifth defensive lineman.

"(The defensive linemen) aren't too happy right now," joked Williams. "They want me to start dropping (into coverage), but I'm not going to do it."

Despite the good natured jealously that is running through the defensive lineman, they know that Williams has been a big help with what they're trying to do.

"As far as containing that quarterback," said defensive lineman Tearrius George. "On his blitzing and everything, it's just another guy they have to worry about."

Between the minds of head coach Corey Chamblin, defensive coordinator Richie Hall and defensive line coach Todd Howard; the Riders haven't been afraid to get creative along the defensive line of scrimmage with a number of different alignments, with a lot stunting mixed in as well.

George admits it's been pretty fun.

"Kind of never know who is going to be the open guy," he said. "Or who's going to get the sack, so you all have to play hard to get there."

It's not all fun and games though.

"There's lots of stuff we do that's different, but it's actually the same thing," said Shologan. "It's up in the air, sometimes you enjoy it, sometimes you have to put your head down and get it done."

An improved pass rush is helping the defense as a whole, as it's forcing quarterbacks to perhaps make some passes they don't want to, but like everything in football, the other hand is helping the other too.

"We're getting good pressure, the ball has to come out fast," said Williams. "When it doesn't come out fast, and th back end is covering, we're eventually going to get there."

One thing is for sure, the Riders pass rush will be tested this week against the Calgary Stampeders, no matter who is at quarterback, as they do have one of the best offensive lines in the league. Just how they'll do could set this defensive line apart from past ones in Green and White, and even the rest of the league.

Shologan's busy bye week

The bye week is supposed to be a week for the Riders to catch up on some rest and relaxation with their family.

For Shologan, he got caught up on a lot of family time as his first son was born the Sunday off the team's week off.

"Right after we got back, a little bit stressful on the plane," said Shologan. "They were there for about 10 hours."

Shologan's wife Anna gave birth to William at 8:28 at eight pounds and one ounce, all in all, Shologan was pretty pleased with the timing considering he had the week off.

"The kid's a Rider fan already," joked Shologan. "Just because of the timing, perfect."

Despite being back at work this week, Shologan says it hasn't been too tough for him as his family does live in Regina with him. Shologan keeps being told it will change his life, but he's still waiting for that.

At over eight pounds, William is a pretty big kid, but Shologan isn't sure just position he'll play just yet.

"Defensive lineman or linebacker," said Shologan. "Anna's brother is a little skinnier than I am, maybe linebacker."