Wake up, now!

KIRK PENTON -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 9:21 AM ET

REGINA -- Milt Stegall's tone of voice said it all.

There was plenty of anger, a tinge of desperation and a heaping amount of resolve.

His Winnipeg Blue Bombers had just been whacked 42-15 by the Saskatchewan Roughriders in their CFL regular-season opener Saturday night at Taylor Field, and the star slotback was not happy.

While some of his teammates talked about it being the "first game" and "going back to the drawing board" and vowing to "play better" in their home opener on Thursday against the Edmonton Eskimos (1-0), a straight-shooting Stegall tossed out the cliches and called it like he saw it.

"If we play like that, man, we shouldn't even show up. For what?" Stegall said. "But we're not gonna play like that. I'm not going to let that happen."

Stegall, who led the Bombers with four catches for 72 yards and a touchdown, was just getting warmed up.

SENSE OF URGENCY

"We gotta have a sense of urgency," he continued, his voice rising. "That's the problem. You can't keep saying 'OK, this is one game, we'll be OK.' No! It was the first game, and we got smashed. Maybe that's the problem. 'We can't win? OK, it's the eighth, ninth game, it's time to wake up now.' We gotta wake up right now.

"If that wasn't a wakeup call, we don't need to be here. That was a wakeup call. They smashed us from beginning to end."

Saskatchewan's Corey Holmes returned the opening kickoff 81 yards for a touchdown. He then took a punt to the Bombers 20-yard line the next time he touched the ball, setting up Roughrider quarterback Nealon Greene's one-yard touchdown plunge.

The Roughriders led 14-0 just 5:05 into the game, and it was plain as day that the Bombers have more work to do than they originally thought.

Stegall, normally one to lead only by example, isn't going to remain quiet.

"I don't know if this is my last year or not, but I'm not going to go through this," he said. "If I gotta get in some guy's face -- and hopefully they don't take it personal -- I'm not going to let this happen.

"We're not going to go through a year like this."

He better hope not.

Holmes had 306 all-purpose yards, including 148 on three kickoff returns, 71 on two punt returns, 65 on 10 carries and 22 on three receptions.

Greene completed 23 of 33 passes for 268 yards and touchdowns to Elijah Thurmon and Matt Dominguez in his first game in more than a year for the 'Riders, who led 16-0, 22-8 and 38-15 by quarters.

Winnipeg quarterback Kevin Glenn, who was sacked only once, completed 14 of 28 attempts for 158 yards, a touchdown and an interception.

Bomber receivers dropped five passes, punter Jon Ryan had two punts blocked, running back Charles Roberts picked up only 14 yards on seven carries, and Saskatchewan had 425 yards of net offence compared to Winnipeg's 143.

On the bright side for Winnipeg, Keith Stokes had a 69-yard punt return touchdown.

All in all, it was a terrible outing for the Bombers, but head coach Jim Daley is keeping his chin up.

"As I have said all along in camp, we have a lot of work to do to become a good CFL football team," he said. "... This is our group of players. We have to get them better."

Stegall will do what he can to help out his coach and his team.

"We'll get it together," he said. "We'll get it together, I promise you that. We will get it together. Whatever I have to do, we'll get this thing together.

"... Hopefully these guys wake up. If we don't wake up, it could get ugly."


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