Keys To The Game
This is one of those games that the BC Lions need to have. With a big string of games against Western rivals toward season’s end, these games against a weak East division become far more important.
The Hamilton Tiger-Cats are on the rise with three straight wins. They are starting to get healthy again and have emerged from the basement of the Eastern standings.
This should be a good old-fashioned Cat Fight (see what I did there).
Here’s what BC needs to do tonight to knock them down a peg:
1. Contain the Hamilton offence
QB Henry Burris is 38 years old but he certainly doesn’t play like it. He’s leading the league in passing yards and has averaged over 306 yards per game. Not too shabby for an old timer. The main key to Burris’ success seems to be his offensive line. They are a talented group that gives him lots of time in the pocket.
The Lions defense needs to bring pressure, break through the offensive line, and force Burris to make poor decisions.
Also, expect backup QB Dan Lefevour to come in for a series or two, but the Lions need to give him plenty of respect as he can play a role in the passing, rushing, and even the receiving game.
The Tiger-Cats boast tremendous depth at receiver. They have two of the top six receivers in the league in Greg Ellingson and Bakari Grant, former Most Outstanding Canadian Andy Fantuz, as well as the dependable Dave Stala and Onrea Jones. Running back CJ Gable is also a threat coming out of the backfield.
They have a lot of guys who can burn you so the defense needs to be aware of everyone on the field.
2. Exploit the Hamilton Secondary
The Tiger-Cats have allowed over 319 yards passing per game (2nd most in the CFL), which is mainly due to their young secondary. All of their starters this year have been rookies, aside from three year veteran Dee Webb. They did show some improvement last week against Winnipeg last week in holding their QB’s under 150 yards passing, but that’s Winnipeg.
A high school team could defend them right now (sorry Bomber fans).
Despite his inefficiency over the last few games, Travis Lulay should be licking his chops to face these guys. If he and his receivers are on their game, they should have a field day against this unit.
3. Expect The Blitz
I’m sure that the Tiger-Cats watched plenty of film on the Lions’ disastrous offensive performance last week and saw them crumble in the face of the Montreal blitz. Especially early on, Hamilton will likely test them to see if they learned from it or not and they need to be ready.
The offensive line needs to be at its best. Jacques Chapdelaine needs to call plenty of screen passes, crossing routes, and out routes so that Lulay can get the ball out of his hands quickly. And please, don’t make Andrew Harris stay back and block the entire game. He needs the football!
4. Tim Brown
Not much to say here. After a slow start, Tim Brown is back to his old self with return touchdowns in consecutive games and he now leads the league in combined return yards. Here’s hoping he makes it three in a row tonight but if not, setting up solid field position for the offence will do just fine.
5. Limit The Gadget Plays
Gadget plays are great when they work, but lately for the Lions, they’ve been nothing but disastrous. The flea flicker against Calgary resulted in an interception. The reverses to receivers, mainly Emmanuel Arceneaux and Shawn Gore, have resulted more often than not in losses of yards. And the direct snaps to Harris haven’t done much at all.
Especially when an offence is struggling, keeping the game plan simple is very important and unless the perfect opportunities arise, throw out the gadget plays.
If both offences come out to play, we could be in for a real shootout at BC Place tonight. There should be lots of scoring, lots of great plays and plenty of fireworks.
There are plenty of tickets available so come on out and cheer on your BC Lions.