Earlier in the day I wondered if this game might be a bit of a trap game for the BC Lions. After all they were playing the Eastern Division Toronto Argonauts without future Hall of Famer Ricky Ray, starting running back Chad Kackert and seven new faces on defence. Earlier in the week, head coach Mike Benevides had to stop practice to refocus the team and I’m sure it will be all business around the Leos headquarters in Surrey in this short practice week.
Trap game or not, the Lions were kicked all over the field by the Argos Tuesday night, and here is how I saw it, from the couch.
The New Guy
Yet another new starting quarterback started his first CFL game in keeping with the theme of the week, and like a couple of his virgin buddies, Zach Collaros threw himself into the Ottawa RedBlacks expansion draft discussion.
Collaros showed tremendous poise in his first game and the Argos let him use his feet to make things happen. He got good protection all game long, but when it did break down, Collaros showed a great sixth sense to get out of trouble and make a play. He had a great night throwing the ball and unlike his veteran opponent, Travis Lulay, made his drives count in the red zone.
Red Zone Woes
The Lions were woeful in the red zone. They could only muster four Paul McCallum field goals all night, and stalled drives just helped the Argos as the Lions chewed up clock time but came away with basically nothing when they needed touchdowns. The Lions had the ball for over ten minutes in the 3rd quarter and were outscored 7-6. The offence moved the ball fairly well between the 20’s but they had nothing when it counted.
Lulay started the game fairly well, connecting on some nice passes, including a deep ball to Nick Moore. But as the game went on there seemed to be a lot of confusion on offence and a lack of creativity, something Lions fans have complained of before. We saw the same play or variations of it over and over. The Lions had some success going downfield, but Lulay wasn’t getting much time for those attempts very often.
Even Andrew Harris, who managed to rush for 107 yards, was off his game somewhat dropping a pass over the middle in the red one that may have resulted in a touchdown.
Then there were the three consecutive mental penalties on another deep drive…yeah, you get the point.
Dominated On the Line
As mentioned above, Collaros had good protection most of the night and the Lions defensive line was held off the sack sheet.
Travis Lulay was under pressure a lot, and was sacked three times by the Argos. The loss of Kirby Fabien to a knee injury is going to be a big hole for the Lions to fill. The rookie guard will be replaced by Dean Valli who had assumed a backup role coming off a knee injury himself. The Lions are going to have to get ready for next week quickly because despite the Bombers troubles, they have a solid defensive line.
With the Lions struggling to put points on the board, they needed the defence to step up, and unfortunately they struggled as well.
Adam Bighill managed six tackles and two sacks in his return, but also had problems with Collaros on a couple of occasions, falling for a pump fake and getting side stepped by the rookie QB.
The defensive line simply didn’t get enough pressure making it tough on the secondary at times, but with that said there were some rough nights all around. Josh Bell had a tough night and J.R. LaRose also continues to struggle at safety, especially on the Barnes touchdown, that seemed to get Collaros and the Argos rolling.
The Lions took 21 penalties in their first four games and took 13 against the Argos, including three unsportsmanlike penalties to end the first half. Flags also reared their heads on special teams hurting the Lions field position on multiple occasions.
Trevor Knapp: @Real_VSBNKnapp
“THE #BCLions SUCKED FROM HEAD TO TOE TONIGHT. ” -John Torterella
EA Spitzka: @Spitzka
It’s unfair to expect the #BCLions to play well when they come east. After all, a 730 start time is only 10 minutes after 4:20. #CFL
Fake Mark Cohon @FakeMarkCohon
The #Argos score any more and the SPCA is going to file an animal cruelty charge #CFL #BCLions #Rout
Sometimes folks, you just have to laugh at your problems. It’s a short week, I expect a very motivated BC Lions team come Monday against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
Until then, that’s mercifully all I’ve got. We would love your comments on the game, and for you to give us a follow on Twitter, @BCLionsDen.