BC Lions invade a frosty Calgary to take on a division rival
The BC Lions head to Calgary for their final regular season road trip, and also the last time they will play a game outdoors this year. With freezing temperatures already and snow on the forecast in Cow Town, the Leo’s will battle the elements as they battle the Stampeders for the second time in 3 weeks.
Coach Mike Benevides will hope to generate some heat with QB Mike Reilly holding the reins of the offence.
Its games like this one that make me appreciate BC Place and why I love visiting my team in a domed stadium. The weather will play a prominent role in this week’s Top Shelf Keys to the Game.
Ultimately, poor weather games come down to one major factor: Give-aways and Take-aways. The team that protects the ball the best and moves the chains on the ground will fare well.
With these two clubs fairly evenly matched at the running back position, interception could prove to be huge. The book on Calgary’s QB Kevin Glenn is pressure him to give up the ball, BC’s Defence must make huge plays on first downs forcing Calgary into second and short situations.
Big on Big
Lions DT Khalif Mitchell will be back in the line-up after honouring a one game, team imposed sanction. Mitchell will provide a spark, especially in stopping the run, but his reps will be impacted by the continued great play Jabar Westerman and Brandon Jordan.
Fellow DT Eric Taylor will miss another start as he nurses an injury, a big blow as Rich Stubler’s Defence faces the top rusher in the league in Jon Cornish.
Even though Cornish was limited to just 61 yards, he should still be viewed as a threat, particularly if there is bad weather afoot. The D-line may not need to collect many tackles but with this type of contest they have to keep Calgary’s O-line from getting to the line-backers.
Credit to BC Center Angus Reid and the rest of the Offensive line for responding well to a new QB last week but this week the challenge ramps up as Reilly gets another start and they must protect him against the Stampeders’ Charelston Hughes. Hughes was the week 9 CFL Defensive Player of the Week and has strung together 4 sacks in the last 4 weeks.
The Leo’s O-Line has had some stability as G Patrick Kabongo has slotted in well for the nicked up Jon Hameister-Ries. The hogs will have their hands full tonight.
With the last two keys focusing on blocking, it’s only fair that this key brings up tackling. I’m focusing primarily on the tackling done by the Lions Secondary.
Their run-support has been lacking and the tackling style is a little suspect. In a chilly atmosphere, wrapping with the arms will cause more fumbles than their standard issue shoulder check.
Focus and Intensity
With the West Division title already under wraps, a critical key for BC is to maintain a high level of compete for the duration of the contest. Being undisciplined will lead to penalties, big plays by the opposition or even injury.
For a rookie head coach, Benevides has done a tremendous job in keeping his players in-line and intense all season. This is not the time to let up on the gas pedal.
- Lions WR Marco Iannuzzi will draw back into the line-up after suffering a minor concussion in the Hamilton game two weeks ago.
- Arland Bruce III is still showing symptoms of his concussion and will sit out this game.
- SB Geroy Simon will test his injured hamstring, getting the start over Nick Moore
- Stampeders back-up QB Drew Tate will suit up for the first time since week 2. Tate had been the team’s starter until a shoulder separation sidelined him.
- The Lions have officially released WR Kierrie Johnson.
Its’ funny how early season projections and predictions play out in reality.
This game, many suspected, myself included, was to determine top billing in the West back in June. Two young upstarts, Drew Tate and Travis Lulay looked to guide their respected teams into the promised land.
However, this contest is but a small blip on the CFL radar as Kevin Glenn will square off against Mike Reilly and the playoff seeding all but decided for these clubs.
Make no doubt that this will be a war as Calgary has suffered two defeats to the Leos this year and they still may need to fend off Edmonton and Saskatchewan for the coveted second place in the standings.
Cheers, The Bartender