A.J. Ouellette has the Saskatchewan Roughriders pointed in the right direction. ©Ben Robinson/Color Green Photo

SASKATCHEWAN – When A.J. Ouellette signed with Saskatchewan during the off-season, he had high expectations heading into the 2024 season and his vision is in full motion as the Roughriders are 3-0 after capturing an impressive 36-20 victory over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats on Sunday.

In the first two games Ouellette compiled 64 yards on the ground on 29 carries, which led to several media sources questioning his impact on the running game. Yes, Ouellette averaged just 2.2 yards-per-carry in the first two games, but so many of his yards came after contact because it was the first two games for a team with a new coaching staff and a new offensive. It takes time for teams in this situation to develop continuity and consistency.

“The last few weeks, I felt like I wasn’t contributing to the team,” Ouellette commented to the media about the first two games that ended with victories. “It was good to get out there and help the guys get the win.”

After Sunday’s performance, it is obvious the Roughriders are headed in the right direction. Ouellette, who ran the same physical running style in the first two games he used throughout his entire career, began to benefit from the improvement of the entire offensive line in his third game on Sunday as a Roughrider. It led to 98 rushing yards on 20 carries with a long run of 19 yards.

Ouellette would have had over 100 yards rushing if an 11-yard run he had in the first half wasn’t negated due to a penalty.

Also, Ouellette’s impact on the game wasn’t only by taking handoffs. He also led the Roughriders with 47 yards receiving on four catches. His total of 145 yards of offense was the most yardage compiled by any player in the game.

What also showed Ouellette’s impact on the game was his leadership after starting quarterback Trevor Harris was forced out of the game with an injury right before the first half. Ouellette took over the game in the second half by protecting the backup quarterback Shea Patterson making huge plays in the running game. He also helped out Patterson by powering his way for first downs after making two catches in the flat.

Lastly, Ouellette showed the amazing toughness that has been his identity since he started his football career as a third grader for the Covington Little Buccs. His toughness was on display after he suffered an injury on the same play that Trevor Harris was injured. Ouellette limped throughout the rest of the game, but continued to grind out tough yards with his speed, physicality, determination and toughness.

“I was feeling good,” A.J. said. “Our guys were making plays out there, putting their bodies on the line. You’ve got to feed off of that and contribute to it.”

Hopefully the injury that forced Ouellette to limp on the field will heal quickly. Fortunately the Roughriders have a bye week, which will help Ouellette and his quarterback friend Trevor Harris get healthy.

With the way things are going for Ouellette and the Roughriders, the future looks bright.

A.J. Ouellette lead the Roughriders with 145 total yards in a 36-20 win over Hamilton. ©Ben Robinson/Color Green Photo