BC duels with Calgary for top spot
Time for a Western showdown.
Everybody just take a deep breath. Yes the BC Lions are still smarting after a recent loss to the Roughriders and a narrow victory over Edmonton but this is no time to panic.
Calgary has been on a tear of late, winning 5 of their last 6, and now trail the Leos by one game in the standings but let’s get off the ledge here for a minute.
Calgary and BC have both lost to Saskatchewan recently while the Stamps have feasted on the likes of Edmonton, Winnipeg and Hamilton.
The Lions throttled Calgary 34-8 in their only other meeting this year in week 5.
So relax, forget about playoff implications and “must win” situations. Save that for the next BC-Calgary matchup in three weeks.
Let’s shift our attention to how this game will play out with this week’s Top Shelf Keys to the game.
Running on Empty
There’s no getting around it, the BC run defence took a hit last week with Kory Sheets going off for over 100 yards. This week is not going to be any easier as D Co-ordinator Rich Stubler will have to game plan for the CFL’s top rusher in Jon Cornish, who last week rushed for 180 yards.
Stubler’s run stopping ability will be questioned as he will be without the services of DT Khalif Mitchell and now word is out that DT Eric Taylor is nursing an injury and his playing time will be limited.
If the Lions are to shut down Cornish expect another monster game from LB Adam Bighill.
This will be a break out game for Receiver Kierrie Johnson. Injuries have plagued the Lions this week but no unit has been hit harder than the BC Receivers.
Offensive Co-ordinator Jacques Chapdelaine will roll out a crew without SB’s Geroy Simon and Arland Bruce III so Nick Moore will line up at Slot for Simon, like he did when Superman was out with a Kryptonic hamstring injury.
With the two prominent pass catchers out of the line-up, Calgary’s D will attempt to shut down the Lions next biggest threat in Shawn Gore, leaving Johnson to wreak havoc deep in the secondary.
If stopping the run is a priority for the BC D they must load up the box with eight defenders, leaving them susceptible to the pass attack. For BC to be successful on Saturday night they have got to get in the face of Stampeders QB Kevin Glenn.
Glenn is old and his O-Line is young which makes for a favourable match-up for the league leader in sacks, Lions DE Keron Williams, who recorded a sack the last time these clubs met.
Cage the Beast
Montreal’s SJ Green is consistent, and Hamilton’s Chris Williams is ridiculously deceiving, but in my mind the CFL’s best receiver is the Stamps’ Nik Lewis.
His play reminds me of the Marvel Comics Super-villain Juggernaut. Once he gets the ball in his hands and turns up-field there is almost no stopping the 5’10” 240lb Slot Receiver.
Limiting Lewis’ production will be tough task but critical to ensure a BC victory.
It seems like everyone but Chapdelaine has figured out that when RB Andrew Harris touches the ball more often, good things happen. Getting only 12 touches in last week’s loss might mean that Harris will see more action this week seeing increased action both catching and rushing the football. In the last contest with Cow-Town Harris’ combined effort resulted in 92 total yards and two scores.
Time for Coach Mike Benevides to put the game on his young Running Back’s shoulders and let him go.
- With injuries to the receivers we will see the emergence of SB Courtney Taylor. A former NFL player getting his chance north of the border, Taylor battles multiple sclerosis as well as defensive backs. I wish him nothing but success on and off the field.
- Also out with an injury is Guard Jon Hameister-Ries. His replacement will be the eclipsing presence of Patrick Kabongo.
- Lions DT Brandon Jordan has been moved onto the active roster for the first time this season.
- It appears that BC will have the services of Return specialist Tim Brown back after sitting out the Roughrider game.
- Lion’s fans will recognize #34 for the Stamps as DB Tad Kornegay returns to BC Place for the first time since he helped BC clinch the 99th Grey Cup last season.
Division match-ups are always important whether they in week 15 or week 1. But let’s not start hitting the panic button too soon. I’ll agree that this will be furious finish to the season finale and Calgary is a worthy opponent but just look to recent history to settle your nerves.
If BC employs a solid ground controlled offense, centered around Harris, it will reduce the production of the Stamps’s two-headed monster in Cornish and Lewis.
Defensively I expect a bounce back game for the Leo’s secondary who looked nothing short of confused last week.
Time to exhale the butterflies and start roaring.
Cheers, The Bartender