Jordan Herdman has been waiting for this moment. Despite leaving Simon Fraser as the most productive defensive player in school history, the second-year linebacker/special teams ace never got to experience a game with implications like this. Far from it, actually. After enduring a pair of winless seasons with the Clan following a two-year span where they were only victorious on five occasions, he has a chance to help the BC Lions (8-7-0) punch their ticket to the CFL post-season with a victory over the equally hungry Edmonton Eskimos (8-8-0) on Friday night.
“We played some big games against Division I teams like Idaho State and the Senior Bowl was pretty huge,” recalls Herdman.
“This is a very exciting time right now. We just have to go out and compete, play our game and we’ll be fine.”
Vintage Herdman right there. He won’t overplay the stakes because deep down, he and his teammates know there could be even bigger games to come. First, they must officially lock up their spot in the November dance. Like the classic cliche goes, one game at a time.
“That’s true, really all we can focus on right now is Eskimos,” adds Herdman.
“We’re not wrapped up in what is going on next week and how it’s going to play out. We have to approach it that way until the end; just keep winning and the rest will take care of itself.”
A knee injury to Micah Awe means Herdman is expected to carry the torch at middle linebacker. Coincidentally, it was Herdman that was also called into action when Solomon Elimimian fractured his wrist way back in week five. Given his previously increased role, he won’t be the least bit fazed with the stakes higher than they’ve been all season.
“This is another spot where I’ve been given the opportunity to perform in the middle so, like last time, I’m going to approach it the way I always have,” he said.
“You try to approach it like it’s just another game, even if it has a little more meaning to it. I’m ready to go.”
Facing an offence led by Mike Reilly should be all the motivation Herdman and this rejuvenated defence needs. Reilenjoyingnoying another MVP-like season and as long as the Eskimos have him behind centre, you cannot count them out of this crazy West Division race. Despite dealing with the flu, he engineered a big second half and finished with 369 yards in their 34-16 win over Ottawa last week.
“He does a lot of good things well. We just have to try to limit what he can do, get after him and make him uncomfortable out there,” explains Herdman.
“We’re going to fly around, let our defence go crazy. It’s about having fun and playing fast and physical football.”
You can hear it in his voice. He’s ready to play some more meaningful games.
Game # 16 | BC Lions (8-7-0) vs. Edmonton Eskimos (8-8-0)
Friday, October 19th
TV: TSN/RDS/ESPN 2
Radio: TSN 1040
Lions last result: a 26-21 win in Calgary on October 13th
Eskimos last result: a 34-16 win over Ottawa on October 13th
The last meeting between the two clubs: the Lions rallied for a 31-23 victory at BC Place on August 9th
Game day weather forecast: a mix of sun and clouds with a high of 16 degrees Celsius and a low of nine degrees Celsius.
Vegas Line: The Lions are listed as one and a half point favourites.
2018 W/L record: 3-4-0. Statistics: 154/254 for 2,038 yards, 8 touchdowns and 4 interceptions. Pass efficiency rating of 88.3.
- It was a victorious return to the starting offence for Lulay who appears to be primed for at least one more attempt at November glory. From the surprising stat department: he has only started four games against his friend and former backup Reilly, winning three of those contests. Both quarterbacks have battled injuries since Reilly was shipped to the Alberta capital for the 2013 season.
2018 W/L record: 8-8-0. Statistics: 371/558 for 4,974 yards, 28 touchdowns and 17 interceptions. Pass efficiency rating of 98.7.
- Reilly remains the X-Factor that gives Edmonton a chance on any given week. After some minor tweaks to their offensive line, he was able to exploit the Redblacks secondary in the convincing victory that got them back to .500. He enters this one as the league’s leading passer and should be a favourite to win his second straight Most Outstanding Player Award. Although, missing the playoffs could hurt those aspirations.
Wally Buono has been in this situation many times, so naturally, he understands the importance of not looking past what they have to do against a very tough football team.
“To me, the only scenario that’s important is winning,” says Buono.
“What it does is help you to achieve a goal, but you still have remaining games. If you don’t focus what’s in front of you if you don’t focus on the next game you’re going to miss the opportunity.”
Buono was also asked to explain his team’s second-half surge after it looked almost dead in the water before Labour Day came calling.
“Part of that is, I think when Ed (Hervey) and I talked about building our team we knew by bringing in a lot of veteran players that it would probably take some time for everybody to believe what we’re doing. Veterans are always set in their ways, they don’t always fall into line as much as you think they do and it started to happen in the last 5-6 games. I think it’s shown that this club is starting to come together.”
Meanwhile, Eskimos’ head coach Jason Maas isn’t exactly playing into the math game ahead of this big tilt. In an interview on esks.com, Maas cut off a reporter mid-question in regards to the multiple playoff scenarios still in play.
“I don’t really care whatsoever, I don’t think our team cares whatsoever,” explains the former QB turned head coach.
“We’re focused on BC, don’t care about what happens after that, we just want to focus on getting a win. There’s no scenario that needs to play out more than one game this week and that’s it.”
Like the Lions, Edmonton can still mathematically finish anywhere from second to fifth in the tight West Division.
The legend of Bryan Burnham continues: number 16 needs just 137 receiving yards to reach 1,000 for the third time in his career. You can bet he has at least one or two highlight-reel plays left in him this season.
Speaking of Reilly’s effectiveness: despite their recent struggles the offence still leads the league with 369 first downs and trails only the red-hot Hamilton Tiger-Cats in net offence. Reilly also leads the CFL with 47 completions of 20 yards or more, 17 of those going for touchdowns. He is on track for his third straight season of 5,000-plus passing yards. Only Doug Flutie and Anthony Calvillo have had more than two straight years of surpassing 5K.
Both sides of the line of scrimmage will be huge in this one. Edmonton enters this week with a CFL best 44 sacks. Almondo Sewell is still a force to be reckoned with while former Lion Alex Bazzie and youngster Kwaku Boateng can provide solid pressure off the edges. It will be another stiff test for the Lions’ tough offensive line.
The playoff scenarios expanded: winning assures the Lions of a spot in the 106th Grey Cup playoffs by virtue of the fact they could finish no worse than 9-9, Edmonton could be no better than 9-9 and the Lions will have wrapped up the season series (2-1). A loss for the Eskimos and they would have to hope Winnipeg loses to Calgary next week to set up a ‘winner moves on and loser goes home’ matchup between the Eskimos and Bombers on the final weekend. Edmonton has a bye next week. For the 12th time in 23 seasons since the format was introduced, there will be a crossover team in the West Division. This is also a record third consecutive season where the crossover comes into play. Remarkably, no Eastern team has ever made the playoffs via a crossover.
TSN 1040 has you covered, beginning with the pre-game show at 5:00 PM with Lowell Ullrich and Chris Burns. Bob Marjanovich, Giulio Caravatta and sideline reporter Karen Surman bring you the action at 7:00 PM. Viewers can watch on TSN 1, while Lions fans south of the border can tune in on ESPN 2. Fans in the UK and Ireland can see the game on BT Sport.