GOLTZ FACING LONG ODDS
IT'S possible there are tougher gigs in sports out there right now, but it's hard to imagine one that comes with as odds as long as this:
Justin Goltz will make just his third professional start for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, 1-7, in the annual Labour Day Classic in Regina against the Saskatchewan Roughriders -- who just so happen to be the best team in the Canadian Football League right now with a 7-1 mark.
Understandably, the Riders are 14 1/2-point favourites.
"It's another opportunity to step on the field," Goltz said. "I'm very grateful for it, grateful to have a job and be out here for a big game like the Labour Day Classic. There's a lot of tradition and a great rivalry between two cities that have a great fan base. I expect it to be pretty rowdy.
"You can't really think about it, we've got enough to digest as it is with a new offensive co-ordinator implementing a new offence. I've had plenty to think about during the week other than the fans, the atmosphere and stuff like that. That stuff will take care of itself as long as we take care of our stuff."
The Bombers, who have lost their last eight Labour Day Classic visits, will make two adjustments to their starting lineup, inserting new receiver Aaron Kelly for Doug Pierce and slotback Cory Watson for Rory Kohlert. Buck Pierce will be replaced on the roster by Jason Boltus and while Max Hall took a lot of reps with the offence on Friday, there is a concern he is not yet 100 per cent.
Asked to compare the Bombers-Roughriders rivalry to anything he might have experienced in high school or college, Goltz was blunt:
"I played at a D-III college (Occidental)," he said. "There's nothing like this. There's going to be 40,000-some people and I never saw that in college. Obviously I've been there in the past couple of years and taken part of it and witnessed it from the sidelines. It will be a little bit different on the field. They don't feel bad for us and I expect them to come after us, both the fans and the team."
Bomber head coach Tim Burke said Goltz gets the nod over Hall this week because he's seen most of the work at practice (Hall missed Wednesday's workout with a sore throwing hand).
"That's the main reason," he said. "Secondly, I don't think Max is 100 per cent yet. I'm hoping by game time his hand will be 100 per cent so that if something were to happen he could go in and perform up to 100 per cent of his ability.
"(Goltz) has got to make sure he goes to the right side of the field with his reads and the other thing is to get his feet set and be ready to throw the ball."
TORRID, TORRID, TORRID
THE Riders are 7-1 for the first time since 1970 and a win Sunday would push them to 8-1 for the first time in club history. The Riders are atop the West Division at this point in the season for just the third time in their history (2007 and 2008).
SASKATCHEWAN placekicker Chris Milo is a perfect 21-for-21. CFL hoofers have connected on 141 of 168 attempts (84 per cent) this year, a slight jump from the record 82 per cent success rate in 2011. Worth noting, only one kicker had attempted a field goal from 50 yards or more -- a first since 1965, when at least one was made from 50-plus yards out.
The Riders have won 31 of 49 Labour Day games -- and 15 of the last 19.
Winnipeg's 1-7 record and Saskatchewan's 7-1 record ities the largest ever disparity between the two teams in the history of the Labour Day game... The Bombers, of course, were 7-1 and the Riders 1-7 heading into the 2011 game. Saskatchewan won that game.