(Over the next few days, this blog will do its best to give a rundown on how CIS alumni figure into the grand scheme for each CFL team. Friendly reminder: the ratio in the CFL requires each team to have seven 'nationals' among the 24 defensive and offensive starters. It should be 10, five on each side of the ball, but one battle at a time ... one battle at a time.)
Before we get to the low-hanging fruit on the obvious joke tree, actual news pertaining to university football. The Regina Rams and Saskatchewan Huskies, according to confirmed reports, are slated to play their Oct. 1 game at new Mosaic Stadium. It will be a test event before the CFL's Roughriders move in for next season.
That fits in with a theme of transition in Riderville, since this is the first season with a new football ops staff and the last season at (I still call it) Taylor Field. Philosopher-king Chris Jones has been out with the old and in with the nucleus. It probably mans extra media responsibilities for Rob Bagg during road trips, since he 31-year-old wide receiver will be the only 'Rider the writers and TV reporters will be able to identify. Ba dum tish.
Minor beef: like a lot of teams, Saskatchewan no longer distinguishes between wideouts (WR) and slotbacks (SB) on the website roster. The franchise of Ray Elgaard, Jeff Fairholm and Joey Walters should feel great shame. So should you, if you do not know why.
Receivers / backs — The 'Riders must be trying to adapt the Zero RB Strategy from fantasy football to the real thing. Matt Walter (Calgary; he is the Dinos' all-time leading rusher) is the Canadian among three active running backs with a combined seven CFL starts. It's not necessarily a bad approach for a rebuilding team to try to address its other needs before worrying about whether it needs a premier feature back.
Good Kingston boy Bagg (Queen's) survived the purge to remain as fixture in the passing game, as he has been since the second half of 2008, with occasional inactive periods while rehabbing after knee surgeries. Versatile speedster Nic Demski (Manitoba) has a bright future as an all-purpose receiver/returner, and no doubt many X-and-Os junkies are eager to see how he'll be incorporated into the attack. Shamawd Chambers (Laurier) was part of the Edmonton-to-Regina migration that included Jones and his entire coaching staff.
Spencer Moore (McMaster) and Levi Steinhauer (Saskatchewan Huskies) are each active as fullbacks.
Offensive line — Brendon LaBatte (U of R Cougars) is one of the best guards in the biz, with Chris Best (Waterloo) also providing a pillar of strength on the other side of national centre Dan Clark. With Xavier Fulton being stable at leff tackle, the O-line is Saskatchewan's last bastion of continuity.
Defensive front seven — Rush end Justin Capicciotti (Simon Fraser) was up on Burnaby Mountain when SFU jilted transitioned from Canada West for NCAA Division 2. Capicciotti's last season with the Clan was their first in D-2. Capicciotti, who had a 12-sack season for East champion Ottawa, is wearing No. 7 for the 'Riders in memory of the late Simon Fraser quarterback Bernd Dittrich.
Former B.C. Lions first-rounder Ese Mrabure (Laurier) draws in as Capicciotti's understudy. The 'Riders have the CFL rights to David Onyemata (Manitoba), who will likely make the New Orleans Saints.
Alex Ogbongbemiga (Calgary) is the lone national linebacker on the roster, and he's on the practice squad.
Defensive secondary — The rules say Saskatchewan must have one Canadian starting in the back eight to go with ratio buster Capicciotti, the two receivers and interior trio.
Saskatchewan has seven national D-backs, including 23-year-old speedster Tevaughn Campbell (Regina), Matt Webster (Queen's), Raye Hartmann (St. FX) and Shane Herbert (Laurier). However, converted receiver Kevin Francis has the most upside of any of the Canadians.
Specialists — Hey, who likes kickers who have kicked a last-play field goal to decide the Vanier Cup? The 'Riders have two of 'em! Tyler Crapigna (McMaster, 2011 national champion) has come through 'have foot, will travel' phase peculiar to young placekickers to win a job. Third-round choice Quinn van Gylswyk (UBC, 2015 national champion) has potential to be a dual-role national and probably just needs to develop the durability to do it for 20 weeks, instead of 10-12.
Long snapper Jorgen Hus (Regina) is one of four 'Riders who did his training in the Queen City.