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British Columbia Lions (8-10) at Saskatchewan Roughriders (10-8)

Sunday, November 14 - 4pm et/1pm pt on TSN and TSN.ca


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Lions Team Page | Roster Roughriders Team Page | Roster

Season Series

WEEK DATE RESULT BREAKDOWN
2 Jul 10 Saskatchewan 37 at B.C. 18 Recap | Boxscore | VOD
7 Aug 12 B.C. 13 at Saskatchewan 37 Recap | Boxscore | VOD
18 Oct 31 Saskatchewan 17 at B.C. 23 Recap | Boxscore | VOD

When the Roughriders have the ball

Passing Game: If there was any doubt about Darian Durant when the season began, it's gone now. The fifth-year man led the league in passing with 5,542 yards as well as attempts and completions. In three games against the Lions this season, Durant threw for 800 yards and four touchdowns. However, his achilles heel is the interception, a category he led (or trailed, depending on how you look at it) with 22.

Running Game: Wes Cates had a very quiet 1,000-yard campaign but the number that grabs your attention is touchdowns. He led the league with 15 majors and only put the ball on the ground three times in over 200 attempts. Durant also rushed for over 600 yards to lead all quarterbacks so his ability to scramble can't be ignored.

Receiving Game: Canadian Andy Fantuz not only broke through the 1,000-yard barrier for the first time in his career this season, he led the entire league in receiving with 1,380 yards. Weston Dressler returned from his broken leg to record 1,189 yards but he's only averaged around 50 yards per game in the last five weeks. Chris Getzlaf enjoyed a breakthrough season with 946 yards while another member of the Canadian Air Force, Rob Bagg is out for the season.

Offensive Line: Perennial All-Stars Gene Makowsky and Jeremy O'Day form the nucleus of a solid line but having the elusiveness of Durant and the explosiveness of Cates makes them even better.

Special Teams: Returner Dominique Dorsey is on the nine-game injured list but former Lion Ryan Grice-Mullen is always capable of breaking a big play and bringing Mosiac to its feet. Luca Congi is out for the season so the the kicking duties fall to unproven Canadian Warren Kean while punter Eddie Johnson has been steady if not spectacular.

Lions' Defence: Simply put, the Lions can stop the pass but they can't stop the run. They surrendered a league-worst 138 yards per game on the ground this season. However, when the Riders put the ball in the air, there's a pretty good chance a Lion will come down with it since they finished second in interceptions with 22. And of all the teams playing this weekend, nobody had more quarterback sacks than the Lions (44).

Jock Climie says the Roughriders win if... Darian Durant can generate sustained drives. There is no debating the Rider offence's ability to hit the big play. However in several games this year, they have fallen victim too an over-reliance on the deep ball. Durant needs to keep defences off-balance by working the ball short, intermediate and long in equal measures. The Riders have the kind of receivers who can make any kind of catch asked of them. They also have guys who can take a short pass and gain positive yards. There is no need to push the ball exclusively deep (or exclusively short, as has also sometimes been the case at times).

 

Defensively, the Riders must confuse young Travis Lulay. Defensive Coordinator Gary Etcheverry needs to come up with one of his patented schemes to confound the inexperienced quarterback and force him into making poor decisions.



When the Lions have the ball

Passing Game: Head coach Wally Buono stuck with Travis Lulay and it paid off with three wins down the stretch and an improbable playoff berth. Lulay stepped out of Casey Printers' shadow and now has the huddle believing in him. To be honest, his numbers aren't great (he has more interceptions than touchdowns) but he seems to get the job done.

Running Game: Jamal Robertson has been a key to the Lions' resurgence but not so much for his running but his ability to catch balls out of the backfield and turn them into big gains. In a pinch, Yonus Davis can step up but he has had problems taking care of the ball with seven fumbles.

Receiving Game: What else is new? Geroy Simon led the team in receiving again with 78 catches for 1,190 yards and six touchdowns. The surprise came in the fact that Emmanual Arceneaux joined the 1,000-yard club and surpassed Paris Jackson as the second leading receiver on the team. After two straight 1,000-yard campaigns, Jackson took a step backwards and finished with 758 yards.

Offensive Line: Much was made of the rebuilt offensive line with Jovan Olafioye and Jon Hameister-Ries starting on the left side alongside incumbents Angus Reid and Sherko Haji-Rasouli and many feel this was a big reason for the Lions' horrendous start. And it appears they are still a work in progress because the Lions gave up 60 quarterback sacks, 12 more than any other team in the league. Jesse Newman will start at guard on Sunday in place of Hameister-Ries.

Special Teams: Yonus Davis finished among the league leaders in punt and kick-off return yard averages, which helped the struggling Lions' offence start with good field position on several occasions. Former Rider Paul McCallum had an outstanding season, finishing second in scoring with 166 points and connecting on over 88% of his field goals. However, when your team leads the league in field goals, it's usually a sign of weakness in the red zone.

Roughriders' Defence: Much like B.C., the Riders can stop the pass but not the run. Saskatchewan finished just ahead of the last-ranked Lions in rushing defence but boast the best pass defence among teams still playing. Without John Chick and Stevie Baggs, the Riders haven't put as much pressure on the quarterback this year and, in turn, did not come up with as many interceptions (15). However, defensive back James Patrick led the league in picks with 9. On the injury front, veteran linebacker Barrin Simpson, who led the league in tackles with 104, is out with a sprained ankle.

Jock Climie says the Lions win if... Travis Lulay can continue his recent streak of pushing the ball deep to Emmanuel Arceneaux and Geroy Simon until the defence gets so soft that Jamal Robertson opens up underneath. Robertson has had 30 catches in the last four games alone. This is virtually unheard of receiving production for a running back. When you look at Robertson's rushing totals over the same period (35 carries), you see that the Lions no longer feel they need to run the ball to win. If and when the Riders figure out that stopping the dump-down to Robertson is critical to hampering Lulay's effectiveness, the Lions pivot must be able to work the second and third levels if BC is to win.

 

Defensively, it has to be about getting turnovers. The Riders are prone to fumbles (16 on the year) and interceptions (23). Get Saskatchewan to cough it up and it will suck the energy out of the stadium and greatly enhance BC's chances of winning.


Schultz Against The World

Easy to make an argument for both teams.


With B.C., they are pretty much playing their best football right now. Travis Lulay continues to improve and last week they won in Winnipeg with no productive yardage from Yonus Davis.


For Saskatchewan, they are a better team at home, and this being a playoff game, the energy from Mosaic Stadium does make a difference.


My emotion says B.C., but I have to stick with logic in this one and say...


LIONS 24 ROUGHRIDERS 27... Take the challenge!



CFL on TSN analyst Paul LaPolice opens his playbook and breaks down key plays from each week's games. More...

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