VANCOUVER — The BC Lions will be back at home in BC Place for just the second time this season and after a week off, they will be picking up where they left off, facing the Ottawa REDBLACKS.
The Lions got the best of the REDBLACKS in a rain soaked 24-12 win in the nation’s capital in Week 4 of league action.
Despite the weather, the Orange and Black offence exploded, especially in the passing game. Michael Reilly looked phenomenal in the game, gashing the Ottawa secondary for 301 yards passing, including a 46-yard touchdown to Jevon Cottoy to put the game out of reach in the fourth quarter.
In the wake of the great outing from the Leos, BC head coach Rick Campbell knows that his team will have to compete hard on Saturday as they get set to face Ottawa once again.
“It’s always hard to beat anybody twice, because it’s pro football,” said Campbell. “This game just doesn’t feel like that, they’ve played a game in between, we’ve had a bye week, so it really feels like two independent games, that other one is in the rear-view mirror and we’re just going to focus on Saturday.”
As the Lions prepare to defend BC Place against the REDBLACKS they will be doing so without two of their primary pass catching options in Dominique Rhymes and Lemar Durant, both of whom suffered injuries in the Week 4 matchup in Ottawa.
Rhymes and Durant have been a complimentary part to the BC offence, combining for 284 receiving yards on 24 receptions. Behind Lucky Whitehead and Bryan Burnham, Durant has accumulated the third most receiving yards for the Lions, while averaging 12.8 yards per catch.
However, the loss of Durant and Rhymes may provide opportunity for some of the other BC wide receivers to make an impact.
“It sucks to see when your guys go down like that, seeing Rhymes go down and seeing Lamar go down,” said BC receiver Shaq Johnson. “But, that’s the business right, we have to pick it up and it’s next man up.”
Second year wide receiver, Cottoy had a breakout game against the REDBLACKS in their previous meeting catching all five of his targets for 93 yards. Cottoy’s 93 yards and 31 yards after catch led all Lions receivers for Week 4.
The Orange and Black have also begun working running back Shaq Cooper into their offensive scheming. In his first two games of the season, Cooper has carried the ball 20 times compiling 106 yards on the ground.
Against the REDBLACKS in Week 4 Cooper saw a significant boost in his role with the team. The first year Lion was the feature back for BC, carrying the ball 14 times for 71 yards and an average of 5.1 yards per carry.
Saturday’s matchup will feature new faces on offence for the opposing REDBLACKS as well. Following an impressive outing in Week 5 against the Montreal Alouettes, Ottawa has decided to start Dominique Davis at quarterback in place of Matt Nichols.
The REDBLACKS lost 51-29 in a battle with the Alouettes, however the silver lining for Ottawa came in the form of their back up quarterback.
When Davis’ number was called, he answered with authority. The sixth-year quarterback completed 23 of his 33 passing attempts for 291 yards and two touchdowns. Davis would also add 38 rushing yards and a rushing touchdown to his 2021 season debut. Davis’ 291 passing yards are the most thrown by an Ottawa quarterback this season.
The presence of Davis under centre provides some flexibility for the Ottawa offence that they may be looking to exploit against the Lions on Saturday. Davis is not afraid to air out the deep ball and is a threat to score with his legs in red zone situations.
As the starting quarterback for Ottawa in 2019, Davis threw for 2,216 yards and five touchdowns, while carrying the ball 31 times for 115 yards and 6 touchdowns. However, the Achilles heel for Davis has been his inability to limit turnovers, throwing 14 interceptions in 2019.
Davis’ performance for the REDBLACKS in Week 5 provides some optimism for the Ottawa offence, however for the Lions, they remain focused on playing a complete game regardless of who is under centre.
“I think we have to play well to beat either one of them,” said Campbell. “I don’t see them changing much up of what they’re doing scheme wise, regardless of who’s in there.”
BC boasts an aggressive defence headlined by rookie linebacker Jordan Williams. Williams’ play has him at the centre of the Most Outstanding Rookie conversation. His 28 tackles are among the league leaders in the category, he has reeled in an interception and has found the backfield for a sack.
The Lions defensive unit will be looking to capitalize on forced turnovers and takeaway opportunities. The Lions have forced the second most takeaways in the league with 12.
However, the Lions secondary surrenders an average of 255.5 passing yards per game, which may provide the REDBLACKS with an opportunity to take chances down field. Though teams who decide to throw against BC should do so with caution.
The BC defensive backfield leads the league in interceptions, totalling seven through their first four games of the season. They also play stout defensive football around their own goal line, allowing just three passing touchdowns on the season.
The Week 6 rematch between the Lions and REDBLACKS will feel like a brand new game featuring significant changes for both sidelines, including a change at quarterback for Ottawa.
The REDBLACKS are looking for lightening to strike twice with Davis, while the Lions are still hunting for their first home win of the season.
Kickoff is slated for 10:00 p.m. ET on TSN, RDS and ESPN+ or can be followed along on CFL.ca’s Game Tracker.
– With files from BCLions.com