The Eskimos and Lions engaged in a defensive battle for much of Friday’s contest, but as was the case in Saskatchewan a week earlier, special teams and a costly mistake were contributing factors in the team’s second loss of the season and second in as many games. Here are my thoughts, from the stands.
Gentlemen, Watch Mr. Harris Please
If every BC Lion started the game with the determination that Andrew Harris did last night, the result may have been a lot different. In fact, after some of the plays he had early on, it’s a wonder he didn’t jack his teammates up to his level. Harris refused to be tackled and early on it was clear the game plan was to get him involved to neutralize the Edmonton pass rush. For the most part they were successful, racking up 453 yards in offence against the “league’s best defence”. Harris finished the night with 185 yards, 120 of them through catch and runs.
The Lions racked up much of that offence because they were starting deep in their own end much of the night. The Eskimos on the other hand enjoyed numerous starts at midfield thanks to shoddy return coverage and below average punting from Paul McCallum. McCallum has had a shaky start to 2012, and looked visibly frustrated coming off the field at times last night. The Lions didn’t even attempt a 44 yard field goal, in the dome, with the roof closed. That has to tell you something about the confidence that the coach has in his special teams unit right now. I’m not sure what Benevides can do to fix the situation, but it needs to be rectified quickly.
All That Talent, So Little Use
With the exception of Harris and Marco Iannuzzi, who is proving he belongs, the Lions didn’t have many other weapons on the night. Geroy Simon and Arland Bruce had four catches between them and that’s just a waste. The Lions are going to have to find ways to get Bruce and Simon more involved, and what has happened to Akeem Foster? This was a guy who looked like he had arrived before injuring his knee last year, and now is almost invisible in the offence.
Travis Lulay looked uneasy at times and appeared to lock onto one receiver on numerous occasions. Nick Moore returned to the lineup and showed ok, although he dropped one with no one around him that won’t do him any favours in his bid to make more frequent appearances in the lineup.
The defence did their job for the most part. I thought Dante Marsh was having a strong game before he left with another dislocated shoulder. Hopefully he will be ok, and Marsh was telling anyone who would listen after the game that he would be fine. It’s the same shoulder he’s injured in the past.
Just two sacks for the defence on the night, and the difference was the two turnovers by the Eskimos defence. The Lions need to get more of those from their defence, especially with the offence not firing on all cylinders.
The Eskimos came as advertised. I though Steven Jyles had a pretty good game, connecting on some nice plays before leaving with reported concussion symptoms. Kerry Joseph did his job managing the game the rest of the way. I’m still not sold that the Eskimos can win a Grey Cup with that tandem though. Much like the Lions tried to neutralize the Lions pass rush, the Eskimos did the same with a lot of work for Hugh Charles who finished with 118 yards rushing and another 61 through the air.
Their defence is solid, but the Lions did a nice job with the Eskimos front seven, only allowing one sack on the night, although there were many hurries. Right now you have to say the Eskimos are playing the best defence in the league and that unit is definitely winning them games, but it’s not November yet.
The Turning Point
With the Lions looking to punch it into the end zone to take the lead they chose to pass the ball on first and goal. Lulay tried to force a pass into Geroy Simon a touch late, who had two defenders on him. TJ Hill contacted Simon, the ball deflected into the arms of Joe Burnett who took it back 107 yards for the touchdown that would prove to be the nail in the coffin for the Lions. With the way Andrew Harris was playing it was surprising to see the Lions pass on first and goal. Not only that, but they emptied the back field telegraphing a pass play and Lulay was hurried on the play. That’s the way it has been the last two of games; one mistake, game over.
The Mitchell Play
I didn’t see this during the game, so I had to watch it on the PVR. I just don’t see this intent to injure other are seeing. What I am seeing is Rottier having a hold on Mitchell, to the point where it actually looks as though his hand is caught in Mitchell’s pads. To me it looks like Mitchell was just trying to break free of the hold. I’ll call a spade a spade if it’s warranted, but that’s what it looked like to me. Mitchell is an emotional player, and I’ve often wondered if we would see him lose his cool at some point. He may be getting a little frustrated with all the double teams he’s seeing, but I really don’t think there was any “intent” to injure Rottier.
I’m all for player social media use, but it may be a little inappropriate that Eskimos offensive lineman Greg Wojt tweeted at halftime: “Annoyed at the play, that was bush league by Khalif Mitchell. Intentionally trying to injure a player #NoClass.”
On to a tough game in Calgary next week, and as Coach Benevides is fond of saying this Lions team has lots of work to do.
The BC Lions are set to launch their newly engineered Reebok jerseys on Wednesday, May 2nd at BC Place and a fan will be chosen to unveil the newest look in the team’s history.
In a great social media move, the Lions ran a contest on Twitter in which one lucky follower will be chosen to unveil the new jersey along with a few high profile BC Lions. Travis Lulay, Geroy Simon, Paul McCallum and Khalif Mitchell will be on hand to model the new threads.
The event will also be open to fans, who are invited to attend at Gate A off of Terry Fox Plaza at 8:00am sharp. The new jersey will also be available for purchase and the Lions players on hand will be signing autographs.
Jerseys will remain on sale at Gate A until 6:00pm on Wednesday and then will be available at the team store in Surrey until May 9th, as well as the online store at BCLions.com.
Not much is known about the new look but information reported so far indicate they won’t look too different from the current edition. Reebok and the league are marketing the jerseys as “re-engineered.” Both player and fan versions will see modifications.
“The on-field jerseys were developed to improve the player experience, while the new (fan) jerseys will bring the fans closer to the game,” said Stewart Clark, marketing director for Reebok Canada. “After a two year process and a close collaboration with the CFL and its teams, Reebok is proud to introduce the new re-engineered jersey.”
The CFL signed a five year agreement with Reebok in 2008. The company was recently replaced in the NFL by Nike, who signed a 5-year $35 million dollar deal with the league to be it’s official apparel supplier. Reebok had held the contract for the last decade.
If you find yourself out in the valley, don’t forget to check out our friend Rick at Sports & Stuff in Chilliwack who will have a large stock of jerseys as well when the become available. Rick has the best selection of Lions and CFL merchandise around.
The final 24 hours of voting for the Best of BC is now and BC Lions Andrew Harris and Paul McCallum are both nominated. The winner of the Best of BC award, which is determined through an online public vote, will be recognized at Sport BC’s 46th Annual Athlete of the Year Awards on Thursday, March 8, 2012. Voting is open to the public until February 27.
Best of luck to both Andrew and Paul!
The results of the poll are kept private, but your vote will be counted.
The BC Lions have added another key potential free agent Thursday evening with the announcement that the team has re-signed place kicker and punter Paul McCallum.
General Manager Wally Buono is thrilled to have the 19 year veteran and CFL record holder for consecutive field goals back in the lineup.
“Paul has been one of our most consistent and dependable players since coming here in 2006,” said VP of football operations and GM Wally Buono. “He has been one of the very best at his position and this is a very important signing for the club.”
Ever been to a sports merchandise or collectibles store and been disappointed with the lack of BC Lions and CFL gear? It’s happened to me many times, but after visiting Sports and Stuff in Chilliwack, you’ll think you’ve died and gone to BC Lions heaven.
There will be no better time to do check them out then on August 6th, when the store hosts its annual Football Day. There are a ton of prizes to be given away and you can meet BC Lion players Geroy Simon, Solomon Elimimian and Paul McCallum.
There are great deals on BC Lions merchandise and every purchase you make gives you chance to win fabulous prizes.
Like what you say?
- A trip to Las Vegas.
- A trip to Calgary to watch the BC Lions take on the Calgary Stampeders on Sept 17th. - Includes flight, hotel. taxi and game tickets.
- 2 tickets to the 2011 Grey Cup game in Vancouver.
- An official pro BC Lions helmet autographed by the whole team.
- Groceries for a week.
- Autographed Jerseys, footballs and many more great prizes!
When: August 6th. Player intros at 1:00pm, Prizes will be drawn at 3:15
Early bird prize will be drawn at 12:45
Where: Sports & Stuff: Chilliwack Mall, 45610 Luckakuck Way, Chilliwack, BC.
We’ll see you in Chilliwack, and make sure you tell Rick and Wendy that BCLionsDen.ca sent you!
The BC Lions football club announced today that they’ve signed non-import cornerback Davis Sanchez to a contract extension through the 2013 season. The 36-year old Sanchez had a decent year for the Lions in 2010 before dislocating his elbow in week 16 to end his season. Sanchez gives the Lions some nice options on defence as far as ratios go, and is veteran leader in the secondary along with Dante Marsh, Korey Banks and Ryan Phllips.
Full release on the Sanchez signing can be found here.
In other news, kicker Paul McCallum was paid his contractual bonus yesterday, meaning the Lions will keep on the roster for now. The club had asked McCallum to take a pay cut but the veteran Canadian kicker refused. As of now McCallum plans to get ready for training camp in June. It’s not known what Wally Buono has planned for his kickers, but he did indicate Sean Whyte was now number one on the depth chart. It’s unlikely Buono will want to start the year with a disgruntled kicker on the roster. Whyte has already informed the team he would prefer to be traded if he won’t be the guy in BC, while McCallum, who sells real estate in the lower mainland says he would only report to certain teams if dealt.
More on McCallum from Matt Sekeres at the Globe and Mail.
On Sunday in Edmonton’s Commonwealth Stadium, the BC Lions kicked off their 2010 campaign the right way, riding the feet of Jamal Robertson and Paul McCallum to a 25-10 win over the Eskimos. The new Lion Robertson racked up 168 yards and the team’s only touchdown, while elder statesman McCallum kicked the conversion and six field goals to account for the team’s tallies.
Robertson and McCallum were far from the only bright spots for the Leos.
Newcomer Derick Armstrong led the recieving corps, catching six passes for 73 yards while Geroy Simon and Paris Jackson snagged four apiece for 59 and 58 years respectively. The Lion defence, though, were the difference in the game, holding the Esks in check for most of the game.
On the opening drive, Edmonton seemed to be testing rookie defensive back Stanley Franks, but a Korey Banks forced fumble snuffed out the Eskimos’ hopes to capitalize early– and seemed to serve to ignite the Lion defence. The Leo stalwarts would pressure Edmonton quarterback Rickey Ray, racking up five sacks on the night- two by Banks and one each by Anton McKenzie, Aaron Hunt and Solomon Elimimian.
Keron Williams would recover the Ray fumble forced by Banks on the opening drive, turning the Esks away at the one-yard line. Between the resolute stands of the Lion D and McCallum’s feet, the BC offense was afforded the opportunity to find its footing, with McCallum accounting for the only scoring on his first of the night, a 44-yard field goal in the expiring seconds of the opening frame.
McCallum would take the second tally as well, striking from fifty yards to spot the Lions a 6-0 cushion, which would grow to 13 with 6:35 remaining in the half on a 61-yard gallop for the major from Robertson, who was turned loose by a great block from Jon Hameister-Reis.
Edmonton would answer with just under two minutes remaining in the half, with Arkee Whitlock making it into the end zone from four yards out.
McCallum would respond with his third field goal of the evening in the last half minute of play, putting the score at the half at 16-7 in favour of the visitors.
If the Lion offense never got fully untracked in the game, it didn’t particularly matter, as the defence and special teams were up to the test. Five minutes into the third quarter, the Esks would tally three more points on a Noel Prefontaine field goal from thirty yards out, but that would be all the scoring Edmonton could muster. McCallum wasn’t done for the Lions, though, registering two more FGs in the quarter, from 28 and 18 yards, before capping the scoring with just under three and a half minutes remaining in the final frame to hand the Lions the final margin of victory.
In a stunning last-minute pair of game-shifts, the Lions gave up the lead, reclaimed it with less than twenty seconds left to play on a 62-yard touchdown by Geroy Simon, and went on to defeat the Edmonton Eskimos 34-31.
It was a rough opening quarter in chilly Edmonton for the host Eskimos, and not merely on the thermometer. As cold as it was on the field, to open the game, the Esks were colder, as the BC Lions defence kept Edmonton from registering a single first down in the first quarter.
The Lions’ offense wasn’t much warmer, but still generated a Paul McCallum field goal in the quarter. After what appeared to be another botched short yardage attempt by the Lions on 2nd and short was aided by a face masking penalty by Maurice Lloyd Pierce connected on a 39-yard strike to Geroy Simon on the second play of the second quarter, putting the Lions u 10-1.
Continuing in the second, things looked to be heating up for the Lions, who capitalized with a ten-yard run by Martell Mallett after a James Yurichek interception of a third-down pass attempt/fake punt by Edmonton kicker Noel Prefontaine. The “Hammer’s” touchdown made the score 17-1 in favour of the visitors from British Columbia.
The Eskimos’ offense finally started to thaw, with a seven play, eighty yards drive, capped off with a forty-yard touchdown reception by the Esk’s Fred Stamps. The teams would trade field goals to head into the locker room with the Lions up by 9, 20-11.
To open the third quarter, the Lions offense would roar once again, with Pierce throwing to Ryan Grice-Mullen for the major, giving the Lions what looked to be a reasonably comfortable 27-11 lead.
From there it was all Eskimos, with the confines of Commonwealth Stadium finally warming to the hosts. Edmonton clawed back into the game with a touchdown and two Prefontaine field goals to pull within a field goal at 27-24. The Lions struggled on offense and couldn’t get valuable first downs. The field position started to shift in Edmonton’s favour. After another sloppy series, a shanked 20 yard Paul McCallum punt left the Eskimos with the ball on the Lions 28 yard line. They would drive the ball down to the one and Ricky Ray plunged in from the there to give the Eskimos a four point lead with just under a minute to play. It was starting to look as if the Lions may end up snake-bitten in spite of what had been a fairly solid effort on both sides of the ball.
With just fifty-seven seconds remaining in the game, the Lions got the ball back seventy-five yards from pay-dirt and trailing by four. Short completions from Pierce to O’Neil Wilson and Simon netted the Lions thirteen yards, but at the cost of about a third of their remaining time.
A Pierce incompletion intended for Wilson would stop the clock with just twenty-two ticks remaining, and then the Lions caught lightning in a bottle. Pierce found a seam in the Eskimos’ secondary and despite double coverage connected with Geroy Simon on a 62-yard touchdown to pull out the victory.
The Lions’ defence managed to keep Edmonton QB Ricky Ray from getting comfortable in the pocket, registering four sacks, with Anton McKenzie, Jeremy Gibbs, Korey Banks and Ricky Foley each collecting one. Banks and McKenzie’s both came at crucial junctures when it seemed that Ray had finally uncovered something in the BC secondary, helping to keep the Esks out of the red zone and forcing them to settle for the second of Prefontaine’s field goals in the fourth quarter.
Special teams play definitely noted the absence of Sean Whyte, as McCallum’s eight punts on the night only averaged thirty-two and a half yards- likely due in part to the cold temperatures- but with the last two of the evening traveling only thirty-one and twenty yards, each with double-digit yard returns, the stage was set for the Eskimos offense with a short field.
Tonight belonged to the receivers, though, even in the absence of the injured Paris Jackson. Geroy Simon led the way with nine catches for 170 yards and the two long touchdowns. Emmanuel Arceneaux also had a solid performance, reeling in seven balls for eighty-eight yards before leaving the game with a hand injury.
The win lifts the Lions to 7-7 on the season, only two points back of division-leading Calgary and tied for second with Saskatchewan. The Riders host Toronto tomorrow, while Calgary faces off with Montreal at Percival Molson Stadium in the opener of the Thanksgiving Day doubleheader.
On a personal note, to my friends back in the Home and Native Land, happy Thanksgiving on Monday. May you enjoy the holiday with friends and family and really appreciate all that you have; and keep warm thoughts for the man and women of the Canadian Forces in their peacekeeping roles around the world who may be spending the time far away from their loved ones.
Down here in the States, my family will join with you, even in absentia, probably in the company of another expat family.
Until next Sunday, when the Lions tangle with the Blue Bombers, I wish you well!
When former BC Lions star Bobby Singh was a young man starting on his way to a professional football career, he dreamed of creating a football camp for kids one day. That dream came true for Singh on May 30th when he hosted the first annual Down Set Hut Football Camp for kids in his home town of Richmond, BC. With perfect weather and a bunch of his CFL friends joining him, Singh provided a great day of football fun for over 100 kids ages 7-15.
In addition to Bobby, the camp featured current BC Lions Geroy Simon, Javier Glatt, Barron Miles, Dean Valli, Paul McCallum, Angus Reid, Sherko Haji-Rasouli and rookie Justin Sorensen. They were joined by Will Loftus of the Montreal Alouettes and Marc Beswick of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and a host of junior players and coaches.
The kids were split up into groups and spent 18 minutes at various stations designed to teach them the different aspects of the game, everything from receiving, defending, tackling, kicking and offensive line play. Each station had designated coaches giving the kids tips and encouragement. The kids also received t-shirts, prizes and talks from the CFL players and at the end of the day they got to a play a touch football game with them as well.
Singh not only plans to make the camp an annual event, his plan is to make it bigger and better, and spread it around the province as well, telling BCLionsDen.ca that next year his goal is to do a camp in the lower mainland, one on Vancouver Island, and one in the Okanagan. Singh also sponsored 20 or so kids out of his own pocket from the Boy and Girls Clubs of Vancouver.
One of the things the late Bob Ackles wanted to improve on upon his return to the Lions was building football at the grassroots level, and camps like this certainly contribute to building that foundation. CFL players are so outstanding interacting with the fans and it’s great to see a player of Bobby Singh’s stature give back to the community by introducing these kids to the game of football.
If you would like more information on Bobby Singh’s camp make sure you visit the website at http://www.downsethutfootball.com