Thanks to the wonders of the CFL schedule makers, Saturday marks our lone home evening game this regular season... also thanks to the wonders of the CFL schedule makers, it kicks off sometime around midnight. It’s a good thing the camera’s face the east end because all the old people on the west side will have to leave at halftime because it will be hours past their bedtime and the stadium will look empty.
The season series sits at 1-1 with the Riders winning the first meeting and the Lions embarrassing us in the second meeting. The home team has won both meetings so far so hopefully that’s a good omen.
You have to know that it will be a tough challenge when you facing the top team in the CFL. Unfortunately for us injuries are compounding an all ready tough match-up. Hawkins, Mick Williams, Shologan and Russ are all out. That’s a third of our defensive starters and with all due respect to Zach Evans and Robert Rose, there is no way a junior player and a guy who showed up 2 days ago don’t mark a downgrade. Getzlaf is also banged up... well to be fair that probably doesn’t affect the game the way he has been playing.
As good as the Lions have been playing, their offense hasn’t really been all that impressive. If their defense wasn’t so dominant their record could be very different. As evidence to this, consider the fact that Geroy Simon is their top receiver and the receiving force that is Chris Getzlaf has more yards than him. Or the fact that BC only has 3 more points than us this season... and we know how intimidating our offense has been.
The Lions spread the ball around to all their receivers making it hard to key on any one. The real engine of their offense though is Andrew Harris (you know the Canadian RB that doesn’t moon the fans... at least not yet). He leads the league in yards from scrimmage and is as dangerous as a receiver as he is as a RB. LBs will need to be sharp to keep him in check. Our patchwork DL will need to help out by clogging up run lanes and making life miserable on Lulay (like they did on Glenn last week). Given that BC has the best OL in the league that is easier said than done.
In terms of receivers, Arland Bruce is the scoring threat we need to be wary of. The slot combination of Simon and Bruce scares me this week because we are being forced into starting Milt Collins at HB. I’ve said it repeatedly but Collins is not very good inside. Go back and watch any TD Getzlaf scored against Calgary in 2009 or 2010 and you will likely see Collins (either as safety or HB) not covering him very well. The Stamps attacked it last week and you can bet a talented QB like Lulay blessed with veteran slots will also attack that weakness. Maybe James Patrick can finally earn his pay and help shut things down inside (you can always hope right). I’d actually prefer to see Patrick at HB and Butler at safety but what do I know.
Shutting down the BC offense is a challenge but doable (our defense has been playing som every good football of late)... overcoming the BC defense will be a far, far greater challenge. BC leads pretty much any defensive category worth mentioning: most sacks, least point allowed, least pass yards allowed, least rush yards allowed (a microscopic 70 yards per game), most arm bars, most throat slashes, most ill-advised comparisons to Jesus. Even with Khalif Mitchell sitting this one out due to injury, our offense is likely facing its toughest challenge of the season. And it’s not exactly like we are sending an elite unit to do battle with Stubler’s defenders. We have an O-line that struggles against pressure and a receiving group that consists of Dressler and 5 other useless hacks running routes and dropping the few passes that go their way. Were it not for 2 tremendous RBs and a veteran QB who should be healthy enough to run this week we’d be screwed.
You can bet BC’s gameplan will be to stack the box and force us to throw. We will need to do things to counteract that. TE leaks outs and quick hitters (like the Dressler TD last week) will slow down the front 7 and prevent them from just attacking Sheets/Sanders. We also need to take some shots downfield to prevent them from stacking the box. I’d say throw it up to Carr but given how we have used our tall receivers in recent history, he’ll be running exclusively short ins. So I guess that leaves Dressler, praying hyper extending Getzlaf’s elbow somehow restored his receiving skills, or praying that the BC Lions forget about Hargreaves as he wanders aimlessly downfield. Durant will need to play outstanding for us to have a chance. I actually think he will do well provided he remembers to account for all LBs in his passing reads.
BC is as tough of competition as we are going to face and in front of what should be an amped up home crowd, I’d actually be tempted to give us a shot on this. But we just have too many injuries and too few good receivers this time around. If we had the likes of Shologan, Foster, Mick Williams and Russ in there then i think we could squeeze out a win. As is though, I think we will play them close but come up short in the end.
BC by 10.