Roughriders special teams coming up big
Special teams might be one of the most important parts of football, and the Roughriders proved that on Sunday.
Field position can be just as important as points in a game that is as tight defensively as the 17-1 win over Edmonton was. Leading the way in making sure the Eskimos didn't get good field position was kicker Chris Milo.
"Milo did a good job," said head coach Corey Chamblin. "He hit the ball pretty good, I'm really proud of Chris, I think he's growing into an ultimate pro."
It hasn't been easy for Milo to become the Riders all around kicker. When he first arrived in Saskatchewan, there was a thought from many that he was only a place kicker.
"What he's doing a nice job of is spraying the ball around," said special teams coordinator Craig Dickenson. "He's not letting the returners get into a rhythm back there."
Milo is having a pretty good year so far, averaging 44 yards a punt. Something that is surprising Dickeson, who was hoping for 38 yards per kick. Despite the good numbers, both Milo and Dickenson agree that it's not just about how far the kick goes.
"It's not always the intention to boot it a million miles," said Milo. "If I can get the defense in a good position, that's the idea."
Another way the Riders are keeping offenses pinned deep is with some improved coverage. Linebacker Sam Hurl led the way on Sunday with three special teams tackles. Graig Newman was another guy who had a strong game.
"I've been impressed," said Dickeson. "They've really played well, they've played fast."
Their play isn't lost on Milo either.
"Those two guys just make everyone else look great," said Dickenson. "If they can do that all season, they'll probably be up there in tackles."
If you get a chance to watch practice this season, you'll probably something a little different on the sidelines. Chamblin being coached by a player. That's because Chamblin is learning how to punt and kick from Milo.
"Coach wants to perfect his punting game, and his kicking game," said Milo. "It helps me out, cause I get to coach him, and coach myself at the same time, and work on those small details."
Milo added that never in his career has a coach wanted to learn to kick with him. Chamblin appears to be picking it up pretty quick too, booting one 40 yards the other day.
"He's doing pretty good," said Milo. "He said he wants to hit a 60 by the end of the year, I think he'll do it."