With all the hype of the Tedford Tempo leading up to the BC Lions first preseason game, fans had reason to look forward to Friday’s preseason opener in Calgary so that they could see the attack live. What they got though was plenty of evidence that some of the problems that plagued the Lions last season still exist, at least for now.
A few thoughts for you chew on. Following a 20-6 loss to the Stampeders.
- There is little doubt that Jonathan Jennings improved his standing in the QB pecking order with his work in the first quarter. He wasn’t perfect and missed on a few throws, but he showed pretty good poise, working mostly against the Stampeders starting defence. He was easily the most pleasant surprise for me up in Kamloops when I was there and while he still needs to gain experience, there is plenty of promise in his game and with his demeanour on the field.
- Richie Leone and Anthony Fera are going to make the kicking decision pretty tough for Jeff Tedford. Both players were good on their only field goal attempts (Leone 17 yards, Fera 39 yards) but Leone held the edge in punting averaging 52 yards on 4 kicks, while Fera averaged 39.7 yards on his three chances.
- I liked the play of T.J. Lee and Alex Tillman, the latter unleashing the hit of the night on Calgary’s Nathan Slaughter. Tillman also got burned for the only touchdown of the night, but overall I liked his physical play.
- Overall, I liked the work of Terence Jeffers-Harris, Bryan Burnham. I mentioned before the game to watch Tim Vizzi, but he didn’t get a chance to do much with the offence that sputtered under the direction of Travis Partridge and Greg McGhee.
- I thought Keynan Parker had some solid reps at Safety, perhaps showing a little better than Chris Rwabukamba.
- The trenches on both sides of the ball continue to be a concern. The Lions gave up 5 sacks including a blind side hit on Jennings that resulted in a turnover, after Kirby Fabien couldn’t make his block. Fabien has been getting second team reps in camp, and perhaps this was evidence of why. But the interior of the line is still an issue, and that’s not great news for a team hoping to keep its start QB healthy in 2015.
- Speaking of that QB, how about the nugget dropped by TSN’s Glen Suitor claiming that Travis Lulay told him that if the season started today, he doesn’t think he would be ready? Ugh, where have we heard this story before? We know there is a plan, but all through camp there has been no real indication that Lulay was feeling that way, so this was a bit of a downer to hear.
- The defensive line wasn’t much better, allowing penetration into the second layer much of the night. The only real starter missing from the bunch was Khreem Smith, so this area is once again a concern for the Lions. Alex Bazzie might have been the Lions best on the night, with an honorable mention to Zach Minter Wouldn’t it be nice of Houston decided they didn’t want Christian Covington? Don’t hold your breath.
- Travis Partridge didn’t use his time wisely and was completely ineffective. He also threw a bad interception. Not a good sign for a player who was here last season, and with two young Tedford picks pushing him. Partridge may have put his spot on the roster in jeopardy with his performance.
- No one stepped up in the running game; None of Brendan Bigelow, Rickey Galvin, Damien Thigpen or Pascal Lochard had much success carrying the ball. With no Andrew Harris in the lineup it would have been nice to see some more from the running game, but the offensive line wasn’t exactly opening up holes for them either.
In the end, this is a team installing new offensive and defensive packages, and they left 12 regulars off the roster. Tedford got a lot of players into the lineup, and will now look at the film to dissect who isn’t cutting it and change directions to give the starters time to get into game mode.
Next week will be a far better gauge of where this team stands, but there were enough signs that give you cause for concern in a few key areas.
Let’s hope next week eases some of that.