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September 28, 2018

Game Preview | Lions at Tiger-Cats

It’s a rematch that just oozes with storylines. One team trying to build more momentum and climb above the .500 mark for the first time this season. Another that will surely be a little miffed after letting one slip last week. Yes, you can think of almost any angle imaginable as the BC Lions (6-6-0) invade Steeltown for the back half of their home and home series with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats (6-7-0) on Saturday afternoon.

And although DeVier Posey and his teammates have a little extra bounce in their step after the thrilling overtime win last week, the preparation for this rematch is as much about correcting some of the things that didn’t go right before the tables turned late in the fourth quarter.

“Football doesn’t love anybody so sometimes you need luck, but you need those type of games to build character,” says the Lions’ explosive wide receiver.

“Those games at this time of year are the foundation for late in the year. I feel like we played heroically, we played hard but we didn’t execute to the level that we’re capable of. That’s what we’re chasing as an offence, as a position and skill group. Can we get that one game where we light it up in terms of yards and touchdowns? The thing that I was really impressed with was all of our receivers touched the ball and we all made big plays when we needed to. That’s a big positive to take.”

No less than eight Lions players had at least one reception last week and Posey himself is getting more accustomed to the offence after three appearances with his new squad. Now he looks to make some new memories in Steeltown. As a former member of the Toronto Argonauts, Posey is no stranger to big games against the Tiger-Cats. In his only other appearance at Tim Hortons Field, last year’s Labour Day Classic, he scored the Argos’ only two touchdowns and then followed it up with 107 receiving yards and the eventual game-winning touchdown in overtime to tame the Ticats a few weeks later in Toronto. That victory went a long way in securing first place in the East for last year’s Grey Cup champions. He especially looks forward to games in Hamilton.

“I’ll be honest, when you’re playing in the East you have to go through Tim Hortons Field to get to where you want to go,” explains the former Ohio State Buckeye.

“It’s just one of those stadiums you look forward to playing in. I love playing in Hamilton. Those type of crazy, hostile environments brings out the best in me. It’s what I live for and what I work hard in the offseason for.”

Shawn Lemon is also heading back to familiar territory and the defence knows it’s in for another big test, especially with the Tiger-Cats getting their top playmaker Brandon Banks back after he missed two games with a groin injury. Lemon knows the biggest key to success is limiting the mobility of Tiger-Cats’ quarterback Jeremiah Masoli.

“We know how we’re going to attack them this week,” explains Lemon.

“Just get to him. Myself and Odell didn’t really do our best job of getting to him last week, they had a game plan to stop us. It’s a good thing we got (Davon) Coleman on our team. He had a great game for him last week.”

The former Ticat Coleman led the way with three sacks. He, Posey and Lemon are just three of the five impact players brought in by GM Ed Hervey since the beginning of training camp, following Davon Coleman, Shawn Lemon and Micah Awe. They will officially welcome new running back Tyrell Sutton to the fold next week.

Hervey delivered a post-practice message to his players on Tuesday, reassuring them that moves like these are a tribute to how he and the brass believe how far this team can go- even if they are right now just above the playoff bar in a competitive West Division.

“You get excited to come to work when you realize the people upstairs are putting you in the best position to win,” says Posey.

“That makes you go home, study your plays, work on the fine details and it has a ripple effect on the team. People will be practicing harder tomorrow and when you know you’re adding that type of element to the game and that it’s a positive, the sky is the limit for this offence.”

Lions wide receiver DeVier Posey tackled after a first down catch against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats on September 22nd at BC Place. Photo: David Friederich

Game # 13 | BC Lions (6-6-0) at Hamilton Tiger-Cats (6-7-0)

Saturday, September 29th

Tim Hortons Field

1:00 PM PT

TV: TSN/RDS/ESPN+/BT Sport

Radio: TSN 1040

Last result: the two teams met last week at BC Place with the Lions roaring back to stun Hamilton 35-32 in overtime.

Game day weather forecast: Sunny with highs of 18 degrees Celsius.

Vegas Line: The Lions are listed as seven-point underdogs; over-under is set at 51.5.

QB Comparison

Jonathon Jennings:

2018 W/L record: 4-2-0. Statistics: 109/161 for 1,081 yards, 7 touchdowns and 4 interceptions.

  • Although the offence struggled in the first half last week, Jennings had his best outing of 2018, passing for 346 yards, three touchdowns and connecting on a pair of successful two-point attempts that ultimately played a big difference in the Lions’ amazing comeback. He has now won four of five career starts against the Ticats.

Jeremiah Masoli:

2018 W/L record: 6-7-0. Statistics: 291/434 for 4,097 yards, 18 touchdowns and 13 interceptions.

  • Masoli came as advertised in last week’s thriller, connecting with Mike Jones on touchdowns of 75 and 55 yards. The Lions’ secondary knows he won’t be afraid to stretch the field on those high risk/high reward plays. Masoli has now had ten games this season of 300-plus passing yards. He now has a 1-2-0 career record against the Lions.

 

Jonathon Jennings escapes pressure during last week’s 35-32 overtime victory over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. Photo: Paul Yates.

Three Lions To Watch

Bryan Burnham- if you had any doubts about his capabilities as a game-breaker, last week’s heroics should erase them for now. What will number 16 have in store for an encore in this rematch?

Davon Coleman-  the stout defensive tackle is jacked up after his three-sack performance. Look for Coleman to make an impact in his return to Hamilton.

Anthony Thompson-  his first-half interception that was called back because of a penalty last week could have been an early turning point. Thompson has recently performed to his capabilities.

Fan Poll
What is the biggest key to a victory in Hamilton?
Winning the line of scrimmage
Vote
Limiting Masoli and the deep ball
Vote
Capitalizing in the red zone
Vote

The Coach Says…..

Wally Buono met with members of the media following the team’s Friday walkthrough at sunny and windy Tim Hortons Field. Among the questions he was asked:

His approach to back-to-backs and if he believes momentum will carry over: “It’s better to approach it as a new game, it’s better to approach it as a whole new adventure because today, the wind is strong. We didn’t have any wind at BC Place. If you’re going to be thrown to the wind for two quarters, you’re going to have to adjust what you do. The conditions aren’t the same, the atmosphere won’t be the same and it’s the next game on the schedule.”

On if the offence has turned a corner following the comeback: “Again, we’ll find out tomorrow. You can make a great play here and a great play there and when it’s isolated to that win, then it’s easier done. Tomorrow is going to be 60 minutes again. I think it’s pivotal for both teams because they’re both in different situations, but looking for the win to help them in their playoff drive. We know that, they know that and for us, we just got to focus on ourselves and do the things we’ve been doing which is playing good football, stay away from the turnovers and try to get turnovers.”

Extra Yardage

Hamilton leads the CFL with 5,378 yards of net offence, an average of 413.7 per game. The Lions enter this contest in sixth in that category with 3,956 yards, a per game average of 329.6. Need any more proof that the Lions’ quarterback protection is miles better than years past? They enter this week with 22 sacks allowed, the third-lowest total behind only the Tiger-Cats and Edmonton Eskimos. Controlling the line of scrimmage will once again be pivotal in this rematch.

Jennings and the offence managed to take care of business in the red zone last week and are now operating at 56.8 percent ( 21/37). good for fifth overall in the league.

Special teams coordinator Jeff Reinebold returns to Hamilton feeling pretty good: the Lions’ special teams unit has committed a league-low 22 penalties in 2018. Reinebold served on the Ticats’ staff from 2013-17, first as defensive coordinator and then in charge of the special teams.

This marks the first home and home series between the Lions and Tiger-Cats since 2013 that resulted in a split with the home team winning in each instance. That was also the season where Hamilton played its ‘home’ games at the University of Guelph during construction of Tim Hortons Field.

The Lions’ only other back -to- back situation this year was a split with the Blue Bombers in weeks four and five. Over the last ten seasons, they have played a total of ten back-to-backs, splitting five, sweeping four and losing both games just once.

How about this nugget from CFL stats ace Steve Daniel? Of the 106 overtime games since 1986, just three were forced by a game-tying two-point conversion. Last week’s comeback was the only time said two-point convert occurred on the final play of regulation. Makes it even better doesn’t it?

Travis Lulay made the trip and will dress as the number three quarterback, behind Jennings and Cody Fajardo. Rookie pivot Ricky Lloyd is headed back to the practice roster.

TSN 1040 has you covered, beginning with the pre-game show at 11 AM with Lowell Ullrich and Chris Burns. Bob Marjanovich and Giulio Caravatta have the action at 1 PM. Viewers can watch on TSN 1, while Lions fans south of the border can stream the action on ESPN+. Fans in the UK and Ireland can watch on BT Sport.

Matt Baker: mbaker@bclions.com