League Bests Face off in Hamilton
Headline: It’s a battle of the CFL best Offence in Hamilton versus the Lions Best Defence
No team in the league is more Jekyll and Hyde than BC Lions week 16 opponent, the Hamilton Tiger Cats. This years’ version of the Ti-Cats have the league’s best offense and also the league’s worst defence.
Hamilton’s QB Henry Burris is topping the charts in many categories, for that reason Coach Mike Benevides will have his hands full when his defenders are on the field, but with Steel-town D playing poorly it could be the Lions offensive weapons with their hands full of opportunity.
Time to grab a Tiger by the tail in this week’s Top Shelf Keys to the game.
Hands of Steel
Both teams feature high powered receivers but only Hamilton’s pass catchers are healthy top to bottom and are probably better than BC’s this weekend. All of Burris’ targets are ready including top gunners Andy Fantuz and Chris Williams, whereas BC’s top two, Geroy Simon and Arland Bruce III, are on the sidelines again.
The threat doesn’t stop there for BC either as Bakari Grant and Dave Stala will also test the Lions secondary.
Young and the Restless
This game will feature a litany of young talent in the trenches when the Tabbies have the ball. 3 of the 5 Hamilton O-Lineman are rookies and only Center Tin O’Neill has more than 5 years of experience.
This should be to the benefit of the Lions but both top DT’s Khalif Mitchell and Eric Taylor are banged up and their game action will be limited.
Jabar Westerman and Brandon Jordan, both first year players, will start in their absence. DE’s Khreem Smith and Keron Williams combined for 3 sacks against Hamilton in week 2 and should duplicate their efforts this week.
Second Level Blocking
The Lions ground game should have another solid outing coming off a stellar performance last week against Calgary. The already suspect Tiger-Cats D has been dealt a huge blow as they prepare to face BC without their two top Linebackers, Markeith Knowlton and Jamall Johnson.
Now Kevin Eiben and Renauld Williams, their replacements, are solid CFL talents but if the Lions O-line can get a hand on them I imagine RB Andrew Harris will put up big numbers.
While Jon Hameister-Ries will miss his second straight game, C Angus Reid and his crew should keep the rushing attack surging forward.
Hamilton’s Chris Williams could be the dark horse for the CFL’s Most Outstanding Player based on excellent punt returning ability. With 6 runbacks to the end-zone already, Williams could set records if he finds pay dirt in his next few games.
BC’s Punter Paul McCallum will attempt to restrict Williams’ game by kicking everything the sidelines.
On that note I can’t see the Leos lining up for long field goals for fear of missing and being torched on the run back.
Young Faces, Veteran attitudes
Last week, Lions QB Travis Lulay hit 9 different players for passes focusing, primarily, on his up and coming talent. This week will be no different as Nick Moore, Courtney Taylor, and Ernest Jackson will all start at Ivor Wynne.
Without Simon and Bruce III in uniform these new products have been performing like seasoned professionals making big plays even in crunch time.
End of an Era, this will be the Lions final game at Hamilton’s iconic Ivor Wynne Stadium as a new stadium will be built for the 2014 season.
The Calgary victory ensured a post season berth for BC. The Lions will now try to secure home field advantage.
Lions running back Andrew Harris needs only 15 yards to pass former Lion Matt Clark for the fifth largest single-season yards from scrimmage total by a Canadian player, and only 119 to reach the number one spot recorded by Terry Evanshen in 1967.
Paul McCallum 2,685 points: The Lions kicker leads the CFL with 139 points and has gotten to within 15 of the 2,700 point mark for his career. He is 63 points behind the #4 spot held by Troy Westwood (2,748).
The Lions O-Line will square off against former teammate DE Brandon Peguese, who was traded to Hamilton earlier in the season.
Coach Bene will look to duplicate the fast start he had against Calgary as he tries to put the 5 and 9 Tabbies on their heels early, but forcing Hamilton to throw may have the opposite result he desired.
Henry Burris is hoping to improve on his CFL best passer rating while angling his club towards the post-season.
As October weather starts to sour the biggest stat to watch is time of posession.
I expect both offenses to be lively early but by the second half it will shift to a ball control style of game and this type of combat favours BC as they try to put a strangle-hold on the West Division.
Cheers, The Bartender