Game 7 Top Shelf Keys
The Headline: Lions host the Roughriders looking to avenge their earlier loss.
August 19, 2012
In a league with only 8 competitors, rematches come swiftly in the CFL. Only 4 weeks removed from their last contest, the Saskatchewan Roughriders pay a visit to BC Place. While Sasky overtook the BC Lions in that July 14th affair they haven’t tasted victory since.
Leos Head Coach Mike Benevides will attempt to keep the Riders mired in their downfall while guiding his team back into game shape coming out of the bye week.
When these teams last met it was a living nightmare for the BC Special Teams. K Paul McCallum missed 2 long Field Goal attempts setting up long returns for Saskatchewan’s Tristan Jackson, the last one going for 129 yards and a TD. Now it’s up to BC to show that they have improved their specials in this week’s Top Shelf Keys to the Game.
Kicking and Screaming
During the fiasco in Riderville Paul McCallum’s 2 missed FG and subsequent poor coverage had Lions fans venting like steam whistle. Since then though McCallum has been perfect, connecting on every opportunity. Coach Bene has also adjusted his tactics too by not attempting the risky 45+ yard FG and instructing his veteran kicker to angle punts to the sidelines. If BC is to best their foes McCallum must continue his much improved play.
It’s time to get back to the basics of the game for the Lions coaching staff. Before they were CFL players, these current BC Lions stood on a ratty field as children and learned the fundamentals of blocking. This part of the Lions game needs a serious re-tooling. The Leos kick return squad needs to step their game up and prove that the O-Line can’t have all the fun throwing blocks. In addition the Lions may try alter their personnel in this department. Although Tim Brown is one of the league’s leaders Stu Foord is capable and Anthony Stewart had a tremendous pre-season and might be worth a second look.
Adam Bighill’stremendous start to the season has brought him 2 Defensive Player of the Week accolades and now it seems he may be up for other rewards. Benevides has given his starting Linebacker a number change from 50 to 44. An eligible number which might have some if offensive implications in the future. The hard hitting defender has 2 interceptions on the season, proof that he hands capable of making plays. Regardless of the number on his jersey, Bighill must have another impactful game trying to stop the Riders RB Kory Sheets.
In the fisrt three weeks of the season Saskatchewan’s QB Darian Durant didn’t offer one interception and the Riders were 3-0. In their last 3 games they have gone 0-3 and Durant has been picked 4 times. This could be perfect timing for the Lions Defensive Secondary as they come off a game where the unit recorded their first pick of the 2012 season by Dante Marsh.
The Best Offence
The Lions recent two game winning streak can be attributed to the more consistent play of Travis Lulay and the rest of the Offence. The real reason, most likely, is that the Defence hasn’t surrendered a major score in 9 quarters of football. Led by Bighill and DE Keron Williams, the Lions will prevail again if the D can match its’ recent performances. This will prove tough as the Green Riders have been in some CFL shootouts recently, racking up 92 points in their last 3 contests.
- Sunday’s game will the first of two games missed by Khalif Mitchell as his suspension begins. Non-Import Rookie Jabar Westerman will start at Defensive Tackle.
- Guard Jon-Hameister Ries has been plagued with back spasms all week and may be sidelined on Sunday. If that happens Matt Norman will resume the starting role.
- Sunday’s start time is 4:00 and the pre-game ceremony will be a tribute to the coaching career of Wally Buono.
- Ernest Jackson will probably start again at WR. He seemed to have instant chemistry with QB Travis Lulay.
Maybe the change of venue is all that needed for a changed result. After a week three loss to Saskatchewan, BC has shown signs of dominance especially on the defensive side. But since their victory over the Lions in Regina the Riders have dropped three straight and will look to right the ship on Canada’s West Coast.
My guess is that a simple game plan and ornery D to go alongside a vastly improved kick coverage squad will be all BC needs to finish the week-end atop the West Division.
Cheers, The Bartender