July 9, 2014

Morris: Lions entering ‘must-win’ territory


A loudspeaker was blaring Metallica’s Enter Sandman at ear-bleeding levels during a BC’s Lions practice this week. When practice ended quarterback Kevin Glenn stepped up to face the music for BC’s rough start to the CFL season.

Losing is one thing, but the Lions have looked troubled out of the gate. There already are fears that what first looked a minor slip could turn into a full tumble.

“I wouldn’t push the panic button just yet,” said Glenn, who has taken over the Lions’ reins while Travis Lulay continues to recover from off-season shoulder surgery. “There is a sense of urgency and I think everybody understands that around here.

No Panic Yet

“I think what it has come down to . . . is making plays. It’s different if we just can’t get squat done. But there’s points where there’s a throw to be made into the end zone. Let’s make it. There’s an interception to be made. Let’s make it. There’s a ball on the ground. Let’s run to the ball and get the ball.”

– Mike Benevides

“We don’t have to panic. We’ve just got to make sure we understand what is going on. We have got to out and execute in the game.”

After losing their season opener 27-20 to the Edmonton Eskimos the Lions were expected to rebound last week against the Montreal Alouettes. Instead BC looked confused in a 24-9 loss.

For the first time in over three years the Lions didn’t score a first-half point and trailed 20-0 after 30 minutes. BC didn’t manage a touchdown until 1:20 left in the game.

After two games the Lions have managed just 29 points. Only the expansion Ottawa REDBLACKS, who have played one game, have less. Wide receiver Courtney Taylor said the ragged play on the field hasn’t caused any rifts in the locker room.

“We are not a finger-pointing team,” said Taylor. “When we lose, we all lose.

“I have been on teams when there is finger pointing and guys get down. Not this team. It has brought us closer together.”

What frustrates head coach Mike Benevides is the Lions had their chances against Montreal.

Glenn threw two interceptions but was running for his life behind an offensive line that allowed five sacks. Receivers dropped catchable balls.

Cornerback Dante Marsh had nothing but field in front of him but couldn’t hang onto an interception. The Lions stopped Montreal quarterback Tanner Marsh behind the line on a third-down gamble only to see him slip away and run for 41 yards.

“I think what it has come down to . . . is making plays,” said Benevides. “It’s different if we just can’t get squat done.

“But there’s points where there’s a throw to be made into the end zone. Let’s make it. There’s an interception to be made. Let’s make it. There’s a ball on the ground. Let’s run to the ball and get the ball.”

When the Lions traded to get Glenn from Ottawa during the CFL Draft the veteran looked like a sound insurance policy. In two starts Glenn has completed 31 of 53 passes for 410 yards, two touchdowns and six interceptions. He threw seven interceptions all last season with Calgary.

The Lions are adjusting to a new system being introduced by offensive coordinator Khari Jones. The team also has an offensive line with two CFL rookies on the left side. The nine sacks given up by BC is the second highest in the league.

Glenn said adapting to change is part of football.

“You have to catch on quick,” he said. “There are no excuses around here. We have to believe in each other and believe in the system and what we are doing.

“You get another week and you just have to concentrate on doing the right things. Minimize our mistakes and our turnovers, play positive football and not take negative plays.”

Things won’t get much easier this weekend. The Lions travel to Regina to play the defending Grey Cup champion Saskatchewan Roughriders who are smarting after a 48-15 defeat at the hands of the Toronto Argonauts.

Benevides said both teams will be grumpy.

“We are pissed off, we’ve lost two in a row,” he said. “It’s loud (at Mosaic Stadium) and it’s hard to play there.

“Our guys have done it before and challenged them really well. I really don’t care about the opponent. It’s about us performing better. There is no need for any extra motivation right now. We suck. We haven’t won two games in a row and we have to win right away.”

The Lions have seen this movie before. They started the 2011 season with five losses then won 12 of their final 13 games to win the Grey Cup at home in BC Place Stadium.

Veteran defensive back Ryan Phillips said the team can’t count on history repeating itself.

“We are a totally different team than 2011,” he said. “I don’t even like talking about it. I don’t want to go back into that scenario.

“Our backs are against the wall right now and that’s the reality of it.”

Benevides has already served notice that players who don’t perform will find their playing time cut. Or worse.

“We have to make sure we get wins,” said Phillips. “That’s the only way we are going to stay employed and make sure the BC Lions are going in the right direction.”

So, even though it’s only the third week of the season, is Saturday’s game in Saskatchewan a must win?

“Every game is a must win when you are 0-2,” said Taylor.