VANCOUVER — Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades, and that’s how BC Lions head coach DeVone Claybrooks looks at his squad’s current situation.
“We were close to being 3-3 and we were close to being 4-2,” he said to BCLions.com. “We understand that we’re close but this is a game of inches. The ball has been going the other way. We understand that we have to flip the script and flip our luck, and we do that with hard work and effort.”
It’s been tough sledding for the Leos over the past month. Following its first win of the season over the Toronto Argonauts in Week 4, they went on to lose their next three contests. They were on the wrong side of a 33-6 final against Edmonton in Week 5 and then dropped both halves of a home-and-home series against Saskatchewan. Now coming out of a bye, they’re looking to avoid dropping their fourth straight contest when they travel to Tim Hortons Field for a showdown with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats on Saturday.
BC Lions head coach DeVone Claybrooks waits in the tunnel with his players before they take the field (The Canadian Press)
There’s been a lot made of the BC offensive line, which has allowed a league-high 25 sacks on quarterback Mike Reilly over their first seven games of 2019. They’ll have a slightly different look in Week 9, as Suhk Chungh is slated to return at right guard and new acquisition Justin Renfrow will also compete for the starting right tackle spot. The Lions will also be without Peter Godber, who was placed on the six-game injured list.
“We’re shuffling the lineup up front. There will be some new pieces there and we’ll see how they gel. Nothing is set in stone at this moment,” Claybrooks said. “We’re still trying to see what five (players) we’re going to go with, so we’re just plugging and playing, seeing which five fit and gel, which five we’re comfortable with on the offensive staff, and we’ll go from there.”
The head coach stressed that his team needs to figure out how to both protect their quarterback and get after opposing quarterbacks. The former is of utmost importance, as Reilly is the key to helping the team turn around their season.
“The difference between a great play and a sack comes down to percentages of a second. So anytime you get a bit of extra time, that can make all the difference in the world,” quarterback Mike Reilly said. “You can’t let that stuff affect you, otherwise, you’re not going to be ready to make a play when you do get the time. If you’re expecting every play that you’re not going to have enough time, you’re not going to be able to play well.”
Getting back into the win column will be easier said than done this week, however, as the Tiger-Cats have one of the best defences the league has to offer. The last time they played in front of their home faithful, they handed the Winnipeg Blue Bombers their first loss of the season.
Despite the loss of quarterback of Jeremiah Masoli, the Tabbies nearly won against the Saskatchewan Roughriders in Week 8. Claybrooks said that the team self-scouted one another in the film room during the bye, with the offence and defence acting as though they were playing one another.
“The ball has been going the other way. We understand that we have to flip the script and flip our luck, and we do that with hard work and effort.”
– DeVone Claybrooks
BC sits last in the West standings but a victory in Week 9 could go a long way to righting the ship.
“The talent in the room is probably the most frustrating thing. As talented as we are, the record doesn’t display that. That’s on us, we’re a 1-6 team right now and we understand that, but we’re trying to go 1-0 this week and that’s the goal,” Claybrooks said.
“… We understand that we’re playing Hamilton at home, but we’ve played our better games on the road and we’re looking forward to the challenge.”
– With files from BCLions.com
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