It was a night of accomplishments for the BC Lions on Friday night. Travis Lulay got the work he needed to and seemed to emerge no worse for wear. Andrew Harris got the yards from scrimmage lead back from Jon Cornish. They closed out the regular season with a win while their defence added themselves to the club record book for the best 18 game season ever. Here is I saw this exhibition type game, from the stands.
All eyes were on the face of the franchise as he returned to his starting role behind centre. Lulay took a shot early on the shoulder on a tackle from James Patrick and it survived the test. He went 9-14 the rest of the way and his passes looked crisp and accurate for the most part. Lulay played just over a quarter before giving way to Mike Reilly. While his consecutive touchdown streak ended at 26 games, I’m sure he’ll take the successful test of the shoulder over that streak any day. So will his coach, teammates and the fans.
The Lions didn’t escape the mean nothing game unscathed and the state of the offensive line remains the primary concern of this blogger heading into the post season. Dean Valli left the game in the first quarter with what appeared to be a knee injury and if he can’t go its slim pickings at guard. Jesse Newman is having a horrible time out there and has knee issues of his own. The Lions are hoping that Jon Hameister-Ries will be ready for the Western Final, but just watching the man walk the sideline makes you realize that may be wishful thinking.
On the post game show they indicated that the Lions are looking at the logistics of flying Matt Norman in for the Western Final which would be tricky with his school schedule, but that they should be able to bring him in should they reach the Grey Cup. A healthy body on the line would certainly be a welcome addition.
Courtney Taylor and Nick Moore may give way to Geroy Simon and Arland Bruce for the Western Final, but both had strong games in relief again and Ernest Jackson and Shawn Gore were even better. For a team that at the beginning of the year had questions about the future of its receiver depth, the future looks pretty bright, as does the present.
We’re not going to take anything away from the defence, but it should be at least noted that the Riders were resting Darian Durant, Chris Getzlaf and the always dangerous Weston Dressler. Now that we have that out of the way; this Lions defence is the best in team history for a reason.
J.R. LaRose had a nice game at safety, and the defensive line did a great job all night long. At one point I decided to focus on Khalif Mitchell and it’s just amazing how much he gets double teamed and held. Adam Bighill picked up another interception and added another eight tackles to his regular season total.
Regardless of other issues, the fact remains that defence wins championships and the Lions are going to be very tough to beat with this group.
Lumbala had a couple of nice carries tonight and it sure would be nice to see a larger offensive role for him, because I think he can contribute. He’s a big load when he gets going and you would think he could be utilized more in short yardage situations, as well as down near the end zone.
One Last Thanks
On a non-football note, I want to send out one last thank you to our veterans who were saluted at halftime Friday night. The Lions do a fantastic job of this annual salute each year, and no matter how many times I watch it, it reminds me of how fortunate we are to live in such a great country and to enjoy the freedoms that we do because of these men and women.
Off To the Playoffs
I can’t believe the regular season is done and the playoffs are upon us. The Lions have set themselves up to play one game for a chance to defend their title in the 100th Grey Cup. I really hope that the fans in this city and province come out and pack BC Place on November 18th because this team deserves the support.
Until the Western final, take care and roar you Lions roar!
The BC Lions knew going in that Mosaic field is hostile territory, especially when you allow the home side to get a lead. The Lions had a sloppy and inefficient first half and dug themselves too big a hole, falling 27-21 to the Riders. Here is how I saw the fourth loss of the season, from the couch.
The Weston Dressler Show
I’m not sure how you game plan for the Riders and aren’t prepared for a heavy dose of Weston Dressler. The talented Rider receiver is going to make his plays, but it seemed at times he was a forgotten man by the Lions defence. Cauchy Muamba had a front row seat for the show and had a tough night but there were other miscues as well. Muamba is starting to be a target for opposing offences and the Lions may need to address that soon.
The play calling was very suspect at times in this game. The Riders had three starters missing from their defensive line, although with the pressure they got you wouldn’t have known. Despite that, the Lions rarely ran the ball and Andrew Harris didn’t even get a touch until 4:00 into the second quarter. Then with the game on the line after a successful onside kick, the Lions go deep twice with 1:18 left on the clock, failing on each attempt. The funny thing is Harris had 8 carries for 78 yards which says he maybe should have been a bigger focus in the game plan, especially with pressure Lulay was under. He has to be a bigger part of the offence, especially when you lose your two best receivers to injury.
Riders Offensive Line
While Lulay was under constant pressure in the first half, the Lions defensive front was for the most part held at bay. The Lions dressed one less defensive lineman (Mitchell) to get Solomon Elimimian into the lineup, so you have to wonder if that had an effect fatigue or continuity wise. I thought the Riders clearly won the battle in the trenches overall and when you do that you generally win football games.
Solomon Elimimian was credited with one tackle on the night. At times there looked to be a little confusion between himself and Bighill when they were on the field together. For his part Bighill had another solid game with 13 tackles. Some are wondering if the Lions should have upset the apple cart but Elimimian is a solid player, and hopefully as things progress the unit will get tighter. Overall there was sloppy tackling by the Lions as a defensive unit, and that is going to have to get better in a hurry with Jon Cornish coming to town.
Marco Iannuzzi and Kierrie Johnson
Both receivers stepped up when Simon (Hamstring) and Bruce (Concussion) went out. Johnson who led all Lions with 75 yards on the night made a key catch on 2nd and 25 while Iannuzzi had two TD’s on three catches. Paris Jackson also showed he can still contribute and had one called back on an iffy offensive pass interference call. If Bruce and Simon can’t go next week the Lions should have the depth to get by for a week or so with Ernest Jackson and Nick Moore also available.
The Lions are likely hoping that Tim Brown will be ready to go next week after a shaky debut by Anthony Stewart. The rookie bobbled a couple of punts and didn’t show too much on the ones he caught. First game jitters sure, but the Lions can’t afford to risk turnovers on special teams down the stretch.
The Right Decision
Arland Bruce (@RUNAKORETH) tweeted after the game to thank the doctors of the BC Lions for following the proper procedures in regards to the concussion protocol. Reports during the game suggested Bruce wanted back in but he was shut down by the team. Earlier in the day Buck Pierce took a hit to the chin, left the game and returned, only to leave again. I’m not suggesting I know the situation in Winnipeg or that they did something wrong, but kudos to the Lions staff.
Really, for the first time this season the Lions are facing a little adversity. The offence is inconsistent and they may enter next week’s first place battle with the Stamps without their two top receivers. All of a sudden their comfortable lead atop the West division isn’t so comfortable. It will be interesting to see just how they respond next week against the surging Stampeders.
It’s always a good tailgate party when the Riders come to town!
Sunday afternoon football doesn’t come very often in Vancouver, although we have seen our share of Western Finals. With the Saskatchewan Roughriders in town and the roof open, the stage was set for a Western Division showdown before over 34,000 football fans. Here’s how I saw it, from the stands.
The Lions offence seemed to come out of the gate a little slow, but you couldn’t say that about the defence. Cauchy Muamba had a strong game and had two interceptions, including a key pick in the fourth that really seemed to deflate the Riders.
Adam Bighill continues to flourish while Jabar Westerman and Maurice Evans filled in nicely for the suspended Khalif Mitchell. But for my money it was Dante Marsh who was the player of the game on defence. The veteran cornerback had a big interception and added six tackles and was solid all night long.
Not much more needs to be said when you consider this team hasn’t allowed a touchdown in three full games. It would likely be scary for other teams to learn that on the post game show, Muamba stated that while the Lions defence was playing well, they “weren’t there yet”.
The Lions offence struggled early but stepped up when they were needed later in the game. It wasn’t Travis Lulay’s strongest game but he was hurried a lot, especially in the first half. The Lions were stuffed on third down from the one and a half yard line which was disappointing. Personally, instead of using the QB so much in short yardage I’d like to see us pound it with Rolly Lumbala or Harris.
Harris was held in check, with just 19 yards on 8 carries. Geroy Simon, Shawn Gore, Akeem Foster all had key catches, but it was Arland Bruce who led the way with 93 yards and a touchdown.
Ernest Jackson, making his second appearance of the season, continues to impress with size, speed and his catching ability. I loved what I saw from him in training camp and he could be on his way to finding a permanent spot in the lineup. The Lions will have some interesting choices to make when Kierrie Johnson eventually returns from his broken arm.
Special teams have been singled out a lot this season and most of the time not for good things. In this game there was very little not to like about their play. The Lions cover teams were strong for the most part. No yards penalties were few and far between (one?) and Tim Brown had a big return in the 2nd quarter that help set up a touchdown. Paul McCallum punted well which was nice to see since he has struggled in that department this season.
I thought the Lions did a nice job honouring the coaching career of Wally Buono. Video messages from Andrew Harris, Canucks coach Alain Vigneault, daughter Christie Buono and Wally himself were tastefully done and understated, just the way Wally would have preferred it to be.
I don’t do this usually, but we had a great tailgate party on Sunday. I was very proud to return to the lot and find it spotless. Well done everyone!
Tweets of the night
@DGilmour24: Great environment at BC Place tonight. Can’t beat watching a football game at BC Place on a Sunday afternoon with the roof open. #BCLions
Absolutely, I’m certainly looking forward to more afternoon games in the future.
@angusreid64: Thanks to all our great #BCLions fans for cheering us on to victory tonight! first place feels GRRRREEEAAT!!
Angus has been eating his Frosted Flakes again.
@BCLions: Speaking of @dantemarsh, he’s just 2 tackles shy of surpassing Barrin Simpson (475) atop the #BCLions all-time rankings in tackles. #CFL
Had no idea Dante was approaching team records like this.
@Lilminimo Me and cardboard @DanielJWood won the kiss cam at the @BCLions game tonight. EPIC! haha #kisscam #bclions
It’s true, she kissed some cardboard and one the kissing cam contest. Awesome.
Talk to you next week everyone, 5-2 as we head into Bomber land!
CONTEST CLOSED: Congratulations to Brad Johnson @bradjawnsin on Twitter! He’s the randomly drawn winner of out ticket giveaway for the BC Lions and Saskatchewan Roughriders game. Thanks to everyone for entering, and stay tuned for more contests in the future!
When the BC Lions and Saskatchewan Roughriders get together it’s usually an intense couple hours of football. Sunday should be no different and the roof will be open, the sun will be shining with a rare 4:00pm kick off.
I’ve come into two tickets and want to give them away to one of our Twitter followers or Facebook fans. To enter, do one or all three of the following:
- Comment on this post.
- Comment on the post about this contest on our Facebook page.
- RT the following to Twitter to win.
I want to feast on the #Riders with the #BCLions at 4:00pm Sunday in the sunshine! #BCLDContest http://www.bclionsden.ca/blog/?p=4432 #CFL
You’ll be entered three times if you do all three! Our winner will be announced Saturday afternoon! Winner will have to pick the tickets up at the tailgate party on Sunday, located at Quebec and Terminal.
Ok this wasn’t exactly from the couch it was actually from the bar, fringe benefits of being a fan rather than an unbiased journalist. Some great CFL fans were in town from Montreal, and it was great to watch the game with them and a few others. It reminds you why you love this game and the fans that follow it.
It’s been awhile since I’ve had to blog about a loss, so here it goes.
Mistakes were the order of the day and the Lions were their own executioners on this day. Lulay, throwing into double coverage for a key interception, the veteran McCallum missing two field goals, and of course special teams allowing big returns again. Both defences battled hard and without those Lions mistakes the score is different. The Riders offence didn’t produce a lot, but as a team they made fewer mistakes and capitalized on the ones the Lions made.
Losing this game wasn’t the worst thing in the world. The Lions last had won 14 of their last 15 heading into Regina, so a little wakeup call might do them some good. The talk of 18-0 can be thrown out the window and we can talk about 17-1. (I kid). Seriously though, sometimes a loss can refocus the troops and I expect the Lions to be hungry next week against Edmonton.
In addition to the special teams issues the Lions offence has yet to reach peak efficiency this season. One drive they look fantastic, the next few they look ordinary or sub-par. Injuries to the offensive line have likely impacted the running game to some degree, and if you listened to the pregame show you would have heard that in addition to Jesse Newman having a setback with his knee, Dean Valli may have had similar bad luck this past week.
Kierrie Johnson’s injury no doubt hurts, and you have to feel sorry for him after it looked like he may be on his way to a breakout year. The Lions do have some options to plug in with Ernest Jackson and Nick Moore each having good training camps and on the practice roster. There wasn’t much success for either Geroy Simon or Arland Bruce on the day and the Lions must find away to get those two more involved. The Lions appear to have dodged a bullet with the early reports that Simon dislocated a finger rather than breaking one.
With a good Edmonton defence in town next week, better consistency will be needed in all areas on offence.
No hoody, no win?
Just throwing this out there; Coach Benevides wasn’t wearing his trademark grey hoody…discuss.
Is it any coincidence that Paul McCallum has missed a few field goals and shanked a few punts this year with a new long snapper and a new field goal holder?
The big play of the game was of course the missed McCallum field goal that lead to the Tristan Jackson return for a touchdown. By definition of the rule the block that sprung Jackson certainly could have been called a clip, but it was close. Even so, there were still 110 yards between Jackson and the end zone. Paul McCallum summed it up best on Twitter when he retweeted and commented on this submission:
“@Glenbuchat2: @BCLions @PaulMcCallum4 it was a blatant clip that sprung Jackson free. Should never have been a TD” If so it is what it is.
Tweets of the game
@ LadyApriil: Saskatchewan rough riders have the ugliest and scariest mascot ever… I’m pretty sure Lions eat gophers! #BCLions #Win3BC
Take that Rider fans!
@CanuckClay: Holy smokes! Was that Kierrie Johnson or Ben Johnson? What a great catch and run! @bclions #win3BC
Great question, too bad we’ll have to wait another 6-8 weeks to see more.
@geroysimon: Finger is good to go! I have 9 others that work fine. Making adjustments to win next week.
Well there you go; the silver lining in every cloud makes an appearance. I feel better already.
Oh, as a Lions’ fan, how sweet it is. The drought has ended.
This week, for the first time since the preseason, our boys in orange and black don’t have to walk off the field with the bitter dregs of defeat in their mouths. Also, this week, instead of getting the standard sports report write-up of the game [I did spend a few years writing sports desk a little over a decade and a half ago], you’re getting a fan’s report. If you want the other sort, I’m sure you can find the Sun or the Province, and either of them will have solid enough reportage describing the game.
But, like me, you’re fans. Chances are you were at the game, or watched it on television- whether on TSN, or for those of us stuck on the southern side of the border, the NFL Network, or listened to it on the radio.
It’s a win, and one which looks fairly decisive on the scoresheet. 24-11 looks solid- a two-score margin of victory, and breaking the winless streak feels pretty darn good. For that matter, up until the final few minutes of the first half we saw the Lions play the way the team did in the preseason and dominate the game.
Travis Lulay was pretty good for the first half of the match, and Geroy Simon had the sort of evening that recalls Superman in his prime, closing the night out with seven catches for 134 yards and a touchdown while setting up another one. Lulay ended up 18 for 27 for 257 yards with one interception coming on a bad read in the third quarter.
Jamal Robertson had ten carries for 56 yards; Tim Brown had a carry for a touchdown- set up by three successive Lulay to Simon passes.
Inside the three-minute mark of the first half, the Lions were looking like Empire emperors, keeping the Saskatchewan offense in check and moving the ball fairly regularly, and showing off a 20-3 edge. That final Rider possession of the half likely had some fans- myself included- a little uneasy. It was the one series where the defence showed some of the little mistakes which have plagued the team in the year to date, culminating in a Darian Durant to Chris Getzlaf major to cut the lead to 20-10.
Coming out to start the second half, neither side could establish much in their first possession, and the Leos moved the ball but stalled on their second, leading to Durant starting to march the Riders down the field for them to end up coming away empty handed when Eddie Johnson’s 35-yard attempt clanked off the upright. The visitors would have another crack at the scoreboard to close out the third quarter, but would settle for a single on another Johnson miss.
The fourth quarter was a chance for the Leo D to show its stuff, keeping Saskatchewan in check while the offence sputtered and failed to capitalize on a brilliant opportunity, managing only a Paul McCallum field goal after a shanked punt and ensuing no-yards penalty gave the Lions the ball inside the 30 yard line. A later punt rouge would round out the scoring.
It was a solid showing by the defence, and a good enough one by the offence to stake out the victory over a struggling opponent; and showed some promise. By and large, the errors which have plagued the team were kept to a minimum, the defence showed that they could pin their ears back and sustain pressure on one of the league’s most mobile passers.
Solomon Elimimian led the defence with a stunning twelve tackles and registered one of the three sacks absorbed by Durant, and he and Keron Williams rarely missed an opportunity to lay a big hit on anyone wearing green and white.
The defensive backfield wasn’t spectacular, but was solid enough, with newcomer Tad Kornegay showing he knew a bit of the Rider offense. More importantly, none of the d-backs were burned on long completions, not yielding a completion netting more than 21 yards nor getting victimized on penalties. The Lions only took three on the evening, and benefited from 12 flags being thrown against the Riders.
Next week, the Lions will face a stiffer challenge at home, as they host the Winnipeg Blue Bombers (5-1), who this week knocked off the previously undefeated Edmonton Eskimos in a battle of surprise Division leaders.
- A crowd of 25,238 took in the game. Just over a 1000 more than watched the Hamilton game. So much for half a stadium of green. There were Rider fans, but in very small pockets. Despite another debunking of “the myth” it’s always a good atmosphere when the Riders come to town.
- The crowd at last night’s game seemed to know the importance of it. They were more into the game then previous ones this year.
- The Lions had a moment of silence for the late Richard Harris before the game.
Okay Vancouver, we all know the BC Lions are winless in their first 5 games this season and none of us are happy about that. Not the fans, not the coaches, and most of all not the players. I’m hearing a lot of fans jumping off the bandwagon, so for each of the five losses so far I’m giving you a reason why you should buy a ticket and get out to support the BC Lions. So here they are!
The top 5 reasons to buy a BC Lions ticket to Friday’s game:
5) There are only three games left at Empire Field.
I can’t tell you how many people have told me over the years that they don’t go to Lions games because it’s too hot in BC Place. Now that Empire Field is in place and has been for over a year, where are all you people? Enough excuses, buy a ticket and support the Lions. Empire Field is an intimate setting that brings you up close to the action, and if you haven’t been yet, you’re missing out.
4) Don’t believe the haters, this is professional football.
Yeah I’m taking to you in the Micheal Vick jersey. You’re the one that mocks the three downs, the bigger field and considers the CFL minor league. Slap yourself across the face, splash some cold water on it and wake the hell up. No the CFL does not have the money and the television production that its southern cousins do. But if you like football, and claim to be a fan of the game there is no reason why you shouldn’t enjoy the CFL game. The wider field provides for a faster more open game. Kickoffs and punt returns are more exciting. None of the fair catch stuff here. And who needs four downs when you can get it done in three? Put you’re uninformed hatred aside and check out the CFL live. I bet most of you will come back. Geroy Simon is one of the greatest athletes to ever play in this city and you have the chance to see him up close and personal.
3) The Lions need your support.
The CFL is a gate driven league. They don’t have the huge television contracts that guarantee a team a profit before they even play a game. The BC Lions have been a part of this province for over 50 years. They have brought five championships to this city, more than the other sporting properties combined. They do great work in the community and the players are every day people like you and me. They play for the love of the game and the desire to compete. They play for the fans. It’s affordable family entertainment, so take the kids and support you BC Lions.
Anyone who follows this site knows how much we love to tailgate. The tailgating at BC Lions games has never been better and will never be like this again. Empire Field and the PNE have provided an awesome pregame atmosphere for football enthusiasts who love the pregame tradition of the tailgate party. While not in the same numbers as Calgary, the quality of this tailgate party is on par. In fact I’ve been told that because of crackdowns in Calgary the BC tailgates are now the best in the country. Take the BBQ and some pregame beverages. Come and meet new fans, throw the football around and see what this unique culture is all about. Join us in the Tailgate Empire at the Northwest corner of Lot 9!
1) And the number one reason to buy a ticket to Friday’s BC Lions game?
You’ll be stopping these kind from invading Empire Field!!!!
ROAR YOU LIONS ROAR!
The Edmonton Eskimos are taking the 2011 CFL Season by storm. A perfect 4-0 record to start the season has everyone talking. Rookie Head Coach Kavis Reed has gotten the very best out of his players, and offensive coordinator Marcus Crandell has helped rejuvenate quarterback Ricky Ray’s career and taken him out of the dark days of Kevin Strasser. While we have only played four weeks in the season, and the Eskimos will eventually lose some games, it still proves one thing when it comes to the CFL, and that is, it’s an unpredictable field.
While Strasser is now off ruining an offence in Oregon City, coaching prep league, former CFL quarterback Marcus Crandell has taken the reigns and ran with them. For the first time since the 2008 season, Ricky Ray looks comfortable back in the pocket and it has showed in his play. Throughout the first four weeks of the season, Ray has thrown for 1,231 yards along with eight touchdowns and just a single interception. An interception he had not thrown until this past week in a 24-19 win over the Calgary Stampeders. It has been a great start to a season that Ray desperately needed to have to show that he is still worth every penny the Eskimos will pay him for.
The Eskimos play host to the Toronto Argonauts on Friday night, and while the Argos haven’t exactly impressed anybody in four weeks, it will provide a test for Ray and the Eskimos offence. In 11 previous meetings against the Argonauts, Ray has thrown for just over 2,700 yards with eight touchdowns and eight interceptions, and no multi-touchdown games.
While the Eskimos are the pinnacle team in the Canadian Football League right now, getting equally as much talk is the struggling BC Lions. The Lions are off to statistically their worst start to a season since 1996, although that could still be argued depending on how their next four games go. Last season the team started off the year with a record of 1-7 before winning their second game on Labour Day weekend.
In four weeks, Lions starting running back Jamal Robertson has seen the ball just 21 times on hand-offs out of the backfield. 14 of those 21 hand-offs came in the club’s last game against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. Robertson accounted for 72 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the 39-31 loss to the Tiger-Cats. It’s almost as if running the ball actually worked. But, how could that be possible after only giving a player seven carries in the first three games of the season? Ponder that one.
Other than their Week 3 loss to the Edmonton Eskimos where they scored just 17 points, the BC Lions have had no issues in putting up points on the board. They have scored the third most points in the CFL throughout the first four weeks, trailing the division leading Edmonton Eskimos, as well as the Montreal Alouettes. The issue of course lies in points allowed, where the Lions have given up 136 of them. Still not enough for the top spot in that category however, as the Roughriders have allowed 138 points. But, they have a win. The Lions do not. So, what exactly is the remedy for a BC Lions win in 2011?
Perhaps it’s the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. Buck Pierce is coming off quite possibly his very best game as a CFL quarterback after coming from behind to beat the Toronto Argonauts 33-24 last week. Outside of that game, the Bombers have shown no flashes of being a force on offence. However, when you watch the Bombers play, there is something to be concerned about, and that is their outstanding pass rush. While the Lions have had no real issues in protecting Travis Lulay, having allowed just five sacks so far in 2011, they will have to be on their toes on Thursday in Winnipeg. The Bombers possess the league’s leading sack master in Odell Willis, and throughout the first four weeks he is on pace to break an all-time record with 27 sacks.
To grab their first win of the season, the Lions will need to disrupt Buck Pierce early and often and force him into making mistakes and not letting him get into a groove. This game will have some extra emotion in it, after Blue Bombers defensive line and assistant head coach Richard Harris passed away earlier in the week after being rushed to hospital. Harris spent time with the BC Lions as well, holding the team’s defensive line coaching position for four seasons, and coaching under Wally Buono for his final two years with the Lions in 2003 and 2004.
The Saskatchewan Roughriders are finally into the win column in 2011. After upsetting the Montreal Alouettes on the road in Week 4, the Riders appear to have kicked off their 2011 season. And just in time too. The Riders now have two games at home against the Calgary Stampeders, with a road game splitting up the two meetings in Vancouver next Friday against the Lions. The good news about being 1-3 for the Riders is that only one of those losses came against a West Division team. That being a loss to the Edmonton Eskimos back in the first week of the season.
Through three games, it was drop back and pass mode for Ricky Ray, Anthony Calvillo and Kevin Glenn, as the three quarterbacks tore up the Riders defence with ease. Finally something changed in the gameplan of defensive coordinator Richie Hall, and they were able to pressure Calvillo into some early bad throws. So much so, that they even knocked the 18 year pivot out of the game, forcing back-up Adrian McPherson to come in for the remainder of the game. While injuries are not fun to see happen, it was a breath of fresh air for the Riders defence to be able to put the heat on a quarterback.
Much like the genius plan for Jamal Robertson to finally see the ball more than three times in a game, it was Darian Durant who kept the Riders offence going at times by using his legs to run the ball. Something that had been a rare feat throughout the first three games played. After rushing for just 40 yards in three weeks, Durant took off seven times in the game, accounting for 71 yards along the way. Again, like Chapdelaine in BC, we aren’t exactly sure what light clicked on in Doug Berry’s head that made it a priority to get Durant moving around. In two years as the team’s starter, Durant ran the ball 140 times for 1,119 yards.
This week, the Riders welcome the bitter rival. Henry Burris and the Calgary Stampeders are in town, and whenever these two teams get together for a game, everyone gets fired up. They have played in the past two West Division Final games, with the Riders being the victors in both games, and the Stamps know that in order to get back to the Grey Cup, they are going to have to shed the demon that has been the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
The Stamps come into this game struggling on all accounts offensively. Henry Burris has looked off and nowhere near the form that made him the 2010 CFL’s Most Outstanding Player. Running back Joffrey Reynolds has seen the ball just 35 times, which is the second fewest carries for a starting running back, next to the Lions Jamal Robertson. Reynolds has already been vocal about wanting to get the ball more, and infact did this past week against the Eskimos. One more carry than the previous game, a 21-20 win over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. Hey, one is more, right? After carrying the ball 12 times in the opening week loss to the Toronto Argonauts, Reynolds has not had double digits in carries since. He has also not recorded over 50 yards on the ground since that game. It has instead been back-up running back Jon Cornish who has made the early season plays out of the backfield. Cornish has one rushing touchdown to go with two receiving touchdowns, including a highlight reel play against the Eskimos where he avoided tacklers and dove to reach across the goal line for the touchdown.
The Stamps and Riders wrap up Week 5 on Saturday night in Regina.
Follow Tyler Bieber on Twitter @CFLDaily for a wide range of CFL related news.
I thought it might be time for some random thoughts after the first two weeks of the CFL season. There have certainly been some surprises to start the year and some events that leave you shaking your head. Feel free to comment below and leave us your musings on the season so far.
The BC Lions 0-2 start is a mild surprise. Not overly shocking considering they played two of the league’s expected contenders to start the year. Both losses were by a close score, although one could argue the Montreal loss result was the Alouettes easing off a bit in the 2nd half. So now once again the Lions find themselves in the hole to start the season and next up is the red hot Edmonton Eskimos. Even the most die hard Eskimos fan can’t say they saw their 2-0 start coming. Granted the Eskimo wins have come against two other struggling teams in Saskatchewan and Hamilton, but they are winning in impressive fashion with a combination of a lethal passing attack and most recently the strong running of former Lion Jerome Messam who will undoubtedly have something to prove when he suits up Saturday.
Speaking of the running game, as anyone seen the BC’s? They seem to have abandoned that part of their game. In game one you could argue that because they got down by 17 so quick they had to go to the air, but in game two the same lack of ground attack existed and when it did it was stuffed. If the Lions are to have success this year they will have to find more balance to their offence or it will be extremely one dimensional.
Things are not all gloomy however. The Lions seem to have found a solid replacement for Yonus Davis in Tim Brown. Brown has all the speed and shifty moves of his predecessor and has some wondering whether he should be getting a bigger role in the offence. It’s never been Buono’s style to use his returner regularly in the offence but Brown will and should be featured in a few packages before the season is done.
Travis Lulay has come as advertised, and if not for several dropped passes against the Stamps would have put up massive numbers after two games. The Montana State quarterback has settled in nicely to the starting role and with more support from his receivers should be just fine.
One of those receivers is Shawn Gore. Gore had a few drops against the Stamps but also had several nice catches as well finishing the game with 96 yards. There is no denying Gore has the talent and desire to star in this league and he seems to be taking advantage of a star tutor in Geroy Simon who told the Province’s Lowell Ullrich, “He’s determined to be a good football player and he definitely has the toughness.”
The Province newspaper is in my opinion the best Lions coverage in the city, bar none. The sports department there is very good at what they do and there is no better football writer in the country right now in my opinion than Lowell Ullrich. So when I saw this cartoon posted by their editorial cartoonist Bob Krieger I was pretty disappointed.
Yes, I get that the intent was to say even an injured player could play running back for the Lions since they never call a running play anyway, but considering that the Lions’ Stanley Franks is facing an injury that may end his career, it was pretty inconsiderate. I was going to blog more on this but the very competent Andrew Bucholtz at Yahoo.ca said everything perfectly in this piece. The cartoon drew the wrath of Franks’ teammate Dante Marsh who told me that at this point he and his teammates are just praying for a full recovery for Franks. Let me add those prayers and best wishes on behalf of BCLionsDen.ca.
If there is comfort to be found with the Lions slow start, it’s the fact that the Saskatchewan Roughriders are also winless after two games. The Lions have been here in the past starting 1-7 last year and clawing back to make the playoffs. The Riders lost both games at home and the natives are restless in Regina. They face Hamilton on the road this week and of they go 0-3 there could be a lot of manure on driveways pretty quick. After this week the Riders face Montreal, Calgary, BC and Calgary again in the next four games.
What can you say about the amazing Anthony Calvillo? The Montreal quarterback is quickly approaching greatest of all-time status, if he isn’t there already. This week, barring a defensive miracle, Calvillo will become the CFL’s all-time leader in touchdowns thrown, surpassing Damon Allen. In his first two games of the year Calvillo has completed 51 of 73 passes for a 69.9 completion percentage a QB rating of 132.9 and has thrown 8 touchdown passes, including five last week against the Riders. Before Calvillo is done he will be the greatest of all-time statistically but fans of the CFL should really savour watching this guy play the game now.
BCLionsDen.ca is thrilled to welcome Tyler Bieber to our group of bloggers. Tyler is a really bright football fan who is a mastermind with stats in addition to possessing a great passion and knowledge of the game. Tyler will be writing a column for the site entitled Eye On The West and after as wild week one to kick off the 2011 CFL season,we present his first contribution
It was an opening week unlike any other in the CFL’s West Division. The Edmonton Eskimos were the only team to come up with a win in the opening week, as they beat the Saskatchewan Roughriders in dominating fashion, 42-28. It was the first time since the 2004 season that so few teams in the West won a Week 1 game. Infact, in that 2004 season, none of the West Division teams won a game in the first week.
They proved to be the storm after the storm. After a slight delay due to a prairie hailstorm, Eskimos Head Coach Kavis Reed said it best when TSN showed his pre-game speech. “No one will see you coming”, said Reed to his team just before kickoff. Certainly none of the 30,000 fans at Mosaic Stadium dawning the green and white could have envisioned a worse start for their Roughriders. Following a two and out on their first possession, the Eskimos rattled off five straight scoring drives, adding three touchdowns and two field goals. They lead 27-10 late in the first half, before Darian Durant found a rhythm with his offence and brought it within seven points at the half.
That was as close as the Riders would get, as the Eskimos outscored them 15-7 in the second half. Eskimos receiver Jason Barnes had two touchdown receptions on his first two catches in the first quarter to really stun the Riders. Ricky Ray had three touchdown passes, and never had to feel overly pressured, thanks in part to his offensive line. The Eskimos allowed just one sack from Riders LB Barrin Simpson, and despite about eight hits in total on Ray, the veteran pivot never batted an eye on the way to the big win.
The Riders were without Chris McKenzie at the halfback position, and Tad Kornegay at the cornerback position, and it showed. John Eubanks replaced McKenzie, and on two occasions was not even close to covering his man for two Edmonton touchdowns. Quarterback Darian Durant was at one point 15/16 passing with a touchdown, but ended up going 12/21 thereafter, with two interceptions. It wasn’t exactly the start that new head coach Greg Marshall had envisioned, and it does not get any easier for the club, as they host the Montreal Alouettes on Saturday. The Eskimos will play in their home opener in Week 2, hosting the Hamilton Tiger-Cats on the second half of a Saturday doubleheader.
The BC Lions and Montreal Alouettes played the first of their season opening/ending series on Thursday, kicking off the 2011 season. It seemed that the Lions played this game as if it was the entire 2010 season combined in one game. A slow start, a bruising start, they then found some momentum, and nearly got a win. The Lions got down quickly, 24-3, and managed to get it to 27-10 at the half. After some key halftime adjustments, the team outscored the Alouettes 16-3 in the second half, coming up one drive short of stealing a win in Montreal, losing 30-26.
Lions quarterback Travis Lulay threw 45 passes in the game, completing 26 of them. They had no time to establish a ground game, as after getting down at the half, Lions running back Jamal Robertson finished with just one carry for 12 yards. Defensive end Keron Williams had a strong game, despite only recording three tackles in the game, he was constantly after Alouettes quarterback Anthony Calvillo, accounting for three QB hurries in the game. Hurries are defined as pressuring a quarterback to throw a ball too early, forcing him out of the pocket, or drawing a holding penalty.
When you play the BC Lions, you get the oldest receiver in the game, Geroy Simon. Still one of the top ten receivers in the game, Simon passed the retired Terry Vaughn for fourth place on the all-time receiving yards list with his first reception on Thursday. Simon will chase down Darren Flutie (3rd), Allen Pitts (2nd) and finally Milt Stegall for the all-time record. Simon entered the season just over 1400 yards away from passing Stegall, so it is unlikely that he will make the record in 2011, however if he has games like Week One, where he had 115 yards, he just may do it.
The Calgary Stampeders had Canada Day fireworks. Just… they never came out. The Stamps sat and waited until the fourth quarter to get their offence going, and while they did end up taking the lead late in the game, it was too little too late. After getting down 17-6 on a two yard run by Toronto Argonauts running back Cory Boyd, the Stamps fired off a quick 10 play, 76 yard drive to get the game within three points. After an Argos two and out, the Stamps got the ball back with tremendous field position, and capitalized once again, with a 5 play, 50 yard drive and a 21-17 lead with 4:39 left in the game.
Argonauts quarterback Cleo Lemon battled back on the next drive, getting the team in field goal range, and Noel Prefontaine made it 21-20 with 2:21 to go. The ball back in the hands of Henry Burris for the Stamps, the team went two and out after Argos LB Jordan Younger stopped receiver Arjei Franklin short of a first down. An 8-yard punt return from Byron Parker, followed by 7 play, 38 yard drive by Cleo Lemon set up a chance for Prefontaine from 43 yards. The Argos veteran kicker split the uprights, and that was that for the Stamps. A shocking week one loss at the hands of the Toronto Argonauts, a team that had not won at McMahon Stadium since Canada Day 2005.
You could argue between the Eskimos big win, the Riders big loss, the Stamps stunning loss, and the Lions slow first half which the most shocking performance was in the West, but at the end of the day, just one team sits with a win on the board, and that is the Edmonton Eskimos. It’s only one week, but it’s always good to know that you’re in control, and yes, while the Eskimos will likely have that lead last only a couple of weeks, their win still showed us that in the CFL, anything can happen.
In Week two, the BC Lions have their home opener against the Calgary Stampeders on Friday night, and you can already do the math for yourself. Both teams lost in week one, and so this will be a battle between two teams trying to avoid a 0-2 start to the season. The Saskatchewan Roughriders will host the defending Champion Montreal Alouettes, in a sure test for the green and white. Like either the Stamps or Lions, they could be in danger of a 0-2 start as well. The Eskimos will close out the week hosting the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in what should be an interesting clash. Both teams performed the opposite of how most thought they would in the opening week. The Tiger-Cats were brutal in a home loss to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, and the Eskimos were brilliant in a road win at Saskatchewan.
Each week, I will pick out the top West Division players of the week for Offence, Defence, Canadian, and Special Teams. In Week 1, the top offensive player was Eskimos receiver Jason Barnes. Barnes scored touchdowns on his first two receptions of the game, on the way to a 5 catch, 104 yard performance and the two touchdowns. Defensively, it was Eskimos linebacker Rod Davis who had a sack on the Riders first play of the game, and had four tackles and a forced fumble to boot. Davis terrorized Riders QB Darian Durant, hitting the pivot twice, and adding two hurries. The Top Canadian for week one is a kicker, and that is Lions kicker/punter Paul McCallum. McCallum had four field goals in a loss against Montreal, and had a 44.2 yard punt average with a long of 56 yards. Staying with the Lions, kick returner Tim Brown is the special teams player of the week, with 182 kick and punt return yards, including a 97 yard touchdown.