lions

Beastmode breakout (North of the border): Andrew Harris is hungry!

Bold Statement

After a very modest pre-season, Andrew Harris was completely underutilized in the B.C. Lions regular season opener at Calgary. The star running back saw just a fraction of the touches he is accustomed to–and deserves.  This brought on somewhat of a panic mode for fans like myself.

I mean, it was literally just entering week two of an 18 week regular season, but I was as impatient as a kid on Christmas Eve.

Harris is the man, let’s first all agree on that, thus the reason for concern that he wasn’t performing like the stud that he is. Then came along the Lions’ home opener, a week two tilt with the defending champion Argonauts. It seemed like an eternity between B.C.’s devastating West Final loss in 2012 and their 2013 home opener. That’s usually the case after a tough game though, and everyone anxiously awaits the next shot at redemption.

Andrew Harris was counting down the days and training harder than ever after the Lions’ unexpected 2012 playoff loss to the Stampeders. His calendar was marked for that opening week battle in Calgary, but the game did not go at all to plan for the Canadian All-Star.

Harris was back with a vengeance against the Argonauts. (Photo: BCLions)

Harris was back with a vengeance against the Argonauts. (Photo: BCLions)

It didn’t go to plan for the team in general, with defensive lapses all over the field and miscommunication problems we all hoped the pre-season would have fixed. The most frustrating part of it all was the number of carries and catches Harris received. With all due respect to Travis Lulay, Harris is the most talented player on the team, and it’s a no brainer to feed him the ball.

Well, when game time rolled around at B.C. Place on July 4th, Jacques Chapdelaine, B.C.’s offensive coordinator, seemed to have learned from his week one play-calling disaster. Obviously football is a situational game, and you can’t just keep running the ball if your squad is down big late in a game, but that’s the beauty of Andrew Harris and his versatility.

Harris is arguably as dangerous receiving the ball as he is taking it out of the backfield. He is comparable to a Chad Owens or Hugh Charles, other dual threat CFL running backs. However, he adds a few more elements, including his sheer power and aggressiveness.

I grew up watching great dual-threat NFL running backs like Emmitt Smith and Marshall Faulk. Harris reminds me of Marshall Faulk, just bigger and angrier.

In week two he finally got his chance to shine. It had been seven plus months since that crushing defeat on home turf in the West Final, but Harris finally got another crack at it. And boy did he deliver.

The Lions did what any team should do with a player of Harris’ calibre, give him the damn ball! Harris got more touches against the Argos than he did in both pre-season games and week one combined.

Harris averaged nearly seven yards per carry in rushing past the century mark, and also hauled in 49 yards through the air. 152 total yards and a touchdown are numbers any team would be happy for their running back to post.

But this is likely just the beginning. It was his breakout game for the season, meaning he’s now broken out and will not be contained for some time. Harris is one of those rare players who get better as the game wears on and feeds off the punishment the defenders dish out to him. To sum it up, he’s just one of those players you are proud to have on your team.

You will never see number 33 take a play off. It’s all out, all the time. And that’s an infectious attitude which hopefully will spread to this young receiving core and kick the B.C. offense up a notch from last year.

If Harris gets 20-30 touches per game, don’t expect B.C. to lose many of those matchups.

My projected end of season stats for Harris: 1400 yards rushing, 500 yards receiving, 15 total touchdowns.

Let’s hope I’m right! Go Lions!

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About Bryan McFarlane

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