Let’s all pray that last week was the worst collectively performance we are going to witness (honestly short of losing their pants or doing interpretive dance during a play I’m not sure how it could get worse), burn the tape and move on with life.
Saturday the winless Lions come to town for a night game against the Riders. I love night games! There is just an added intensity in the crowd (likely correlated with added intoxication) The stadium should be loud as we try to ensure the Lions stay winless. Between preseason games and Mother Nature’s attempt to drown us, we haven’t unleashed the full fury of Mosaic yet and there’s no better time than Saturday night to do it.
Aside from the obvious (every player has to not play like a giant sack of crap again) here are what I see as the keys to the game…
The key weakness we need to attack relentlessly in order to win is that BC O-line. About the nicest thing I can say about them is that they suck less than Hamilton. They suck in run blocking (they are averaging a league low 3.9 yds per rush). They suck in pass blocking (have allowed 9 sacks and routinely allow opposing DL in the backfield with relatively little resistance). Word is Kirby Fabien will replace T-Dre Player (an awesome a ridiculously made up first name). The huge weakness is the tackle Ryan Cave who looked beyond lost last game (not surprising for an import in his first CFL game). Chick and Foley should have a big days against him. If our front four can get pressure on Glenn he will do stupid things… like throw picks to the ever athletic D-tackles (come on Tearrius keep the streak alive). BC accounts for one third of all INTs thrown in the CFL in 2014 and consistent pressure on Glenn will help push that number higher.
Manny Arceneaux should make his season debut which is a huge boost to that receiving core. Without him they have a lot of decent receivers but no game breakers. Arceneaux needs to be blanketed because he can deliver big plays if left unchecked even for a moment. If we can limit the big play to him then I like our secondary’s chances of contain the rest of that group. Aside from Arceneaux the thing that scares me most is Andrew Harris. He is a good runner but outstanding when catching the ball out of the backfield. Our LBs need to give him no space to work with. If our D-line can occupy the OL it will free up the LBs to swarm to him. Word is Tristan Black will see a lot more playing time (not sure if that’s a good thing or not, but at least its not Shomari). I am not worried about Macho stepping in at HB. He’ll be fine… for a week or two until he’s injured.
Offensively, I don’t really know what to expect. We couldn’t handle Toronto’s D and they are nowhere near as talented as BC. Our OL will need to play at the level we’ve come to expect if we are to handle Smith, Taylor and Mitchell and give Duranr some time to work. I expect the OL to show up angry and play hard. The bigger concern when dealing with BC is the combo of Bighill and Elimimian. We know we will need a strong run game to be effective but Allen has fumbled on far lighter contact than those 2 bring and it’s not like Charles gives me much more confidence. I expect ball security will be priority #1 so maybe I shouldn’t be worried but I am a bit. For as good as that front 7 is they are so far dead last in run defense which is surprising. Montreal had success last week on the ground so we can’t be afraid to attack it.
The main weakness in that D is the same one it has always been, safety. For years BC has struggled to fill that with spot with someone who was evenly remotely as talented as the rest of that group. Their big plan was to finally address that with Craig Butler but he snubbed them and they were stuck with LaRose back there again. We need to run routes that force LaRose to make decisions, he will make mistakes and big plays will result. Beyond that I think that, much like the west-semifinal if Durant can use his legs (not lots but a few times here and there) it will force the D to respect that and open up things more for the receivers and whoever runs the ball.
One caution I will make is our blocking on punts... Hughes is a leader on teams and I'm hoping that the lack of his presence won't result in a missed assignment and a blocked kick. With a week to plan hopefully all special team assignments are crystal clear.
With Arceneaux and Fabien in the lineup I don’t expect the Lions to be the embarrassment that we saw last week, that said I think this game will be won in the trenches and I expect us to win that matchup on both sides of the ball. Add the home field advantage and raucous crowd and the end result should be a Rider win. If Getzlaf was in I'd predict a wider margin of victory but he's not so...
Riders by a late Brett Swain TD… (Ryan Phillips will still probably complain that we ran up the score)