August 18, 2023

Game Preview | Lions at Roughriders

Back in the win column after a convincing beatdown of Calgary, the BC Lions (7-2-0) now get set for their fifth consecutive clash with a Western Division foe as they visit the Saskatchewan Roughriders (4-5-0) on Sunday evening (4:00 pm PT/TSN/CBS/CFL+/AM730).

This five-game stretch began with a stifling 19-9 triumph over these same Riders back in week seven at home. Now Tibo Debaillie and company have the opportunity to bookend it with a win in their house and wrap up the season series with a third division rival, all but assuring themselves of a top-two position in the West before all is said and done.

As the Riders continue to battle injuries at the most important position, Betts and the ferocious Lions defence will face quarterback Jake Dolegala who completed 15 of 25 passes for 207 yards and their lone touchdown in a loss at Montreal. The mindset remains the same: bring pressure, no matter how much experience the opposing pivot has and prevent him from getting the ball to his weapons that include Shawn Bane Jr. and Tevin Jones, both in the top five in CFL receiving yards heading into this one.

“Our game plan is always to hit the QB early and often. If we can do that again, I think it will be a hell of a game just like the first game we had against them,” added the Belgian Freight Train, Debaillie.

“If we can stop the run, make him pass and hit the QB again, it’s going to be a great game for our defence.”

While the sack totals may not be coming at the same pace as the first few weeks, Debaillie and the defensive line have been a major key to keeping opponents out of the end zone. It speaks volumes that they’ve been able to do it despite injuries to a couple of key pieces, including Sione Teuhema who makes his return to the end position from an ankle injury.

“I think you’ve seen it throughout the whole season, especially on the inside,” said Debaillie.

“We just keep it rolling; it’s Woody, Banks, then me and Cherry. Woody is a little bit dinged up right now, so it’s a three-man rotation, but it’s just next man up.”

As for the challenge of going into a hostile Regina environment, Debaillie lives for these opportunities.

“I love the crowd noise. They’re booing us, we all know they’re against us. So, we’ve just got to shut them up real quick,” he stated.

More Lions Lineup Notes

Depth at a couple of key spots will be a key to victory this week. Starting at left tackle where Chris Schleuger is set to make his Lion debut in place of Jarell Broxton (hamstring). The Alabama-Birmingham product appeared in 22 games with Montreal between 2019 and 2022 and is itching for this opportunity.

“Looking like he’s going to go, which is good,” said Rick Campbell of Schleuger before the squad’s depth chart was officially released.

“He’s been a guy who’s been biding his time that’s been around here since the beginning of training camp. He’ll be ready to go if his number is called.”

Teuhema is back in place of Woody Barron (Adductor) while defensive back Jalon Edwards-Cooper has been pulled off the six-game injured list. His insertion comes with defensive lineman Marcus Moore (hamstring) getting this week off. Edwards-Cooper starts ahead of Mike Jones at field corner.

And finally, Dane Evans is back after missing one week due to his rib injury. He will be worked back slowly as he’s listed as the number three pivot behind Dom Davis.

4 Lions To Watch

WR Lucky Whitehead #7- look for Whitehead to build off an outing where he hauled in his first major of the season. With Dominique Rhymes on the shelf, the opportunity lies for him and a couple of others to get more involved.

RB Taquan Mizzell #25– ‘Smoke’ has made an impact since returning from a knee injury with a pair of touchdown receptions while also being versatile in the blocking game.

LB Ben Hladik #46- continues to shine in his first full season as a starter in the middle. He and Lokombo have been solid in coverage and dependable when opposing backs and receivers get past the first level of the defence.

DB TJ Lee #6– the veteran needs just one more interception for 25 on his career, which would move him into the top ten in Lions history. Lee would be tied with Eric Carter and Ken Hinton.


“I think it’s a little bit of everything: the execution, touchdowns on day three, attitude, energy, guys smiling, moving around, good tempo; it’s a little bit of everything. I feel like we’ve had that these last two weeks and we just hope for it to carry over Sunday.”

Vernon Adams Jr. on what defines a ‘good week of practice.

Extra Yardage

Healthy and back in the groove: of the six games he has started and completed this season, Adams Jr. has had 300 or more passing yards in four of them. Ironically, his season-high was a 388-yard outing in the week four loss at Toronto where he was heavily scrutinized. Further proof that turnovers don’t always tell the whole story.

Adams has also now recorded 11 300-plus yard games for his career and boasts a record of 27-15 as a starting quarterback while winning 13 of his 22 road starts.

With his next victory as Lions head coach being his 25th, Campbell would tie Eagle Keys for seventh on the club’s all-time list. After that, Dave Ritchie is next on the chart at 31 regular season victories. This contest marks Campbell’s 150th as a CFL head coach.

Defensive splits: in the Lions’ seven wins this season they have given up only two touchdowns on 100 drives by the opposing offence. In the two defeats, they have allowed nine majors on 30 offensive possessions.

Prior to the Lions’ victory over Saskatchewan in week seven, the road team had won four straight regular season meetings between these two clubs. The Leos won both visits to Mosaic Stadium in 2023 after having not prevailed in Regina since the last-ever contest at old Taylor Field in October 2016.

Matt Baker: