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November 16, 2018

Game Preview | Lions vs. Argonauts

Rolly Lumbala is the club’s longest-tenured player. So it goes without saying he has experienced just about every type of situation several times over. As he and his Lions teammates continue to look themselves in the mirror following last week’s debacle in Hamilton, the formula is simple: they know a season should never be defined by a late September setback.

“You look at the tape, then you live and learn,” explained the veteran fullback and special teams ace.

“At the end of the day, nobody is going to feel sorry for us, right? What we have to do is come back out here, continue to get better and get this win on Saturday, by any means. The biggest thing is staying positive and continuing to believe that we are a good football team.”

Just for fun, we dipped into the archives. The story of the 2011 Grey Cup champion Lions has been told over and over. What few people remember about that roller coaster season is that they had a similar result in Steeltown, falling 37-17 to fall to 9-7. They would not lose again. All fine and dandy, but Lumbala insists the nostalgia game won’t be played.

“Hey man, 2011 was a long time ago. Some of these guys don’t even know,” stated Lumbala.

“It was a great year, don’t get me wrong, but this is now. We can only focus on what we have now. There are definitely some similarities, but we have to focus on Toronto.”

About those Argonauts. Losers of five straight games, they clearly aren’t where they expected to be at this point of the season: fighting to stay alive in the playoff race. Yet Lumbala has been quick to remind his teammates that their opponent this week still won a Grey Cup only ten months ago.

“They’re very dangerous, very competitive, ” said Lumbala.

“It’s going to have to be on us to defend our home turf. Who would have thought they would win it all last year, based on their record? They’re going to come in here and be hungry.”

And perhaps a little loose as well. Head coach Marc Trestman elected to have his team stay in Calgary following their 38-16 loss last Friday, a team bonding experience that included practice time in some pretty wintery conditions. Naturally, their post-practice snowball fights caught the attention of social media. Make no mistake: Trestman will have his guys ready to play.

“We’re preparing for a team that’s playing for a playoff spot, just like we are,” Trestman told Kate Pettersen of argonauts.ca.

“We’re seeing a team that came off a great win two weeks ago against Hamilton and lost this week; the ebb and flow and the fluidity of our league. We’re going to get their best. Defensively, they lead the league in sacks, they’ve got 37 sacks. That alone enough to get ready for. Jonathon Jennings is an explosive player, we’ve seen him play his best against us in the last couple of years. So we expect that. We know we’re going to get Rainey, they’ve got Posey there and a good receiving core.Ā  This is an athletic team with an explosive thrower at quarterback and we’re excited to get out there and play.”

Although the mood here was angrier than it has been at any point this season, team captain Lumbala is quick to remind everyone that destiny remains in their own hands with five games to play.

“Absolutely. That’s the biggest thing. We’re in control of our own destiny and we just want to get an opportunity to get a chance to play for the Cup, right? Just trying to get a chance to be in the playoffs: that’s what we’re playing for.”

Rolly Lumbala makes special teams tackle during a victory over the Edmonton Eskimos on August 9th, 2018. Photo: David Friederich.

Game # 14: BC Lions (6-7-0) vs. Toronto Argonauts ( 3-10-0)

Saturday, October 6th

BC Place Stadium

4:00 PM

TV: TSN/RDS/ESPN+/BT Sport

Radio: TSN 1040

Lions last result: a 40-10 loss to Hamilton on September 29th.

Argonauts last result: a 38-16 loss to Calgary on September 28th.

Last meeting: The Argonauts got an early fourth quarter touchdown plunge from James Franklin and would hang on to win 24-23 on August 18th at BMO Field.

Game day weather forecast: sunny with highs of 14 degrees Celsius and lows of 8 degrees Celsius.

Vegas odds: The Lions are listed as seven-pointĀ favourites while the over/under is set at 51 and a half points.

QB ComparisonĀ 

Jonathon Jennings:

2018 W/L record: 4-3-0. Statistics: 126/186 for 1,228 yards, 7 touchdowns and 7 interceptions. Pass efficiency rating of 82.9.

  • Looking to get back off the mat after last week’s outing in Hamilton, Jennings can hold his head high at the fact he has a 3-2-0 lifetime against the Argonauts. His best outing against the Boatmen came in week two of 2017 when he passed for 301 yards and a touchdown in a 28-15 road victory.

McLeod Bethel-Thompson:

2018 W/L record: 2-5-0. Statistics: 173/263 for 1,910 yards, 8 touchdowns and 5 interceptions.

  • The former Sacramento State Hornet took over Franklin’s starting job in August, leading them to a thrilling comeback win over Ottawa before the 24-23 nailbiter against the Lions. Since then, he has lost five straight.

Three Lions To Watch

Shawn Lemon- after a silent outing for the defensive line, look for the lemon drops to be a common theme against his former squad. He has seven sacks since the trade. The combined total for the Argos’ defence since then? 6.

DeVier Posey- another member of the Argos’ 2017 championship squad, you get the sense this game breaker is due for a coming out party.

Otha Foster III-Ā One of the more productive pieces of this defence, Foster III will have a chip on his shoulder after the lacklustre outing in Hamilton.

Shawn Lemon (9) of the BC Lions during the game against the Edmonton Eskimos at BC Place Stadium in Vancouver, BC on Thursday, August 9, 2018. (Photo: Johany Jutras / CFL)

The Coach Says…..

Wally Buono met with the media following the team’s final walkthrough of what turned out to be a focused and productive week in practice. Among the topics he discussed:

In light of some more recent roster moves, are players still “auditioning?”-“We’re not with satisfied with everything and I think if we are, we’re not doing our jobs either. There are aspects of our team that I think has made a tremendous improvement, aspects of our team that have improved, but there are also other aspects that we’re not where we should be and that we’re not getting the production that we should.”

On the importance of not looking past the Argonauts and their record-Ā “I don’t know how you can underestimate anybody when you’re coming off a loss yourself, right? It’s not like we’re 13-0. We didn’t play well last week, we didn’t prepare well last week, this is a critical game at home and this is the game that allows us to make up a game that we’re behind (on) the other teams. A win puts us at 7-7, which is the same as two other teams, which puts us right back in the playoff hunt.”

Extra Yardage

Stats to ponder: the turnover battle is always key, ask the Lions last week, but consider this week’s opponent has a CFL-worst minus-10 giveaway/takeaway ratio and that’s an area the home side will want to come out on top. The Argos have also allowed the most points ( 414) and are tied with Montreal for the most touchdowns allowed (43) this season. Despite recording just one last week, the Lions’ defence remains on top of the CFL with 37 sacks.

The 1st and 16th overall leaders in all-time coaching wins respectively, Buono and Trestman are squaring off for the 12th time since 2008, with Trestman holding a 6-5-0 advantage. Neither has ever swept the season series against the other.

These two clubs have split the season series in each of the last five seasons. The onus is on the home side to keep that streak alive.

Road woes: Toronto has lost their first six road contests this season, the first time that has happened since 1993.

Lineup notes: Rookie Andrew Peirson starts at centre after Peter Godber suffered a foot injury in Hamilton. Signed by the Lions just before training camp, Peirson is a product of Gannon University and has spent all of this season on the practice roster. Defensive lineman David Menard is back after missing two weeks with a calf injury. New backfield addition Tyrell Sutton will be a scratch, meaning Jeremiah Johnson will once again dress as the featured tailback.

Toronto will be without top rusher and 2017 hero James Wilder Jr. The running back is listed as week to week with a leg injury. Former NFL running back and 2013 Pro Bowl selection Dexter McCluster will be on the active roster, while TroyUniversityy product Brandon Burks is listed as the starter on their depth chart.

Over the years, not many Eastern Division teams could say they were riding a four-game win streak to BC Place. The Argos will look to make it five straight on Saturday. Last year’s victory in the regular season finale locked up first place in their division and they would win their 17th Grey Cup three weeks later. Andrew Harris and Courtney Taylor scored touchdowns in the Lions’ last home win over Toronto, a 24-16 result in their 2013 home opener.

Reverting back to the 2018 Argonauts: A loss to BC, combined with victories by the Edmonton (at Saskatchewan) and Winnipeg (at Ottawa) and they would be eliminated from playoff contention with four games to play.

TSN 1040 has you covered, beginning with the pre-game show at 3:00 PM with Lowell Ullrich and Chris Burns. Bob Marjaonvich, Giulio Caravatta and sideline reporter Karen Surman bring you the action at 4:00 PM. Viewers can watch on TSN 1 while Lions fans south of the border can stream it on ESPN+. Fans in the UK and BT Sport can see the action on BT Sport.

Matt Baker: mbaker@bclions.com