Friday, August 24, 2018
LIONS VIEW SASK GAME AS "MUST WIN"
But defensive end Odell Willis said the battle at B.C. Place on Saturday will be just like any other game.
"Every game's a must win,'' he said. "Every game you want to put yourself in a better position whether it's fighting for a home playoff game or the first-round bye. Every game's a must win.''
Just two points separate the Leos (3-5) and the Riders (4-4) in the standings. A win for B.C. could vault them into playoff contention while a loss would leave them scrambling for post-season play.
The Lions are coming off another frustrating loss, dropping a 24-23 decision in Toronto last week after going up 10 points in the third.
"Losing isn't fun,'' said head coach Wally Buono. "It would be different if we felt we had a team that couldn't win, if we didn't have enough skill sets or enough leadership.''
The problem, the coach said, is too many careless and preventable offensive penalties, like having veteran players getting called for infractions like time counts.
The Lions offence gave up 43 yards on six offensive penalties in last Saturday's loss.
"These are focus penalties, these are focus mistakes. You've got to stay focused,'' Buono said.
"(Offensive penalties) take you out of everything you want to do, because running helps you establish the line of scrimmage.''
With nine games left in the season, time to make corrections and atone for past mistakes is running out, Buono said.
"If there's an urgency, it should have been last week, should have been the week before, should have been the week before,'' he said. "I think in professional football, there's an urgency every time you play.''
The Riders may have some swagger going into Saturday's game after they handed Calgary its first loss of the season last weekend. Buono said the Stampeders beat themselves in the 40-27 defeat, and Saskatchewan was simply more ready to play.
"When you throw an interception for a touchdown and have a blocked kick early in the game in an environment like Regina, it sets the tone for the game. And I think it did,'' he said.
In a tight league where a single win can make or break a team's season, a few factors make all the difference, including preparation, mistakes and the strength of your quarterback, the coach said.
"There's not much difference between the teams other than maybe the quality of the quarterback,'' Buono said. "If your quarterback makes you score points and doesn't turn the ball over, you're usually in the hunt. If he does, you're screwed.''
Lions quarterback Travis Lulay said he knows how important it is to get a win this week, especially against a division foe.
"We know what's at stake, what's on the line,'' he said. "But regardless of records or anything, you know you're going to have to play a physical game against this team and you just have to earn every single win on game day.''
That means playing fast and ultimately making more plays over a team that prides itself on defence, Lulay added.
"When we're playing in our building, we want to be the aggressors,'' he said. "We want to be the ones to establish that physical framework of the game.''
SASKATCHEWAN (4-4) at B.C. (3-5)
Saturday, B.C. Place
HOME WINS: The Lions will be looking to protect their unbeaten at home streak. B.C. has won all three home games this season, but lost all five road matches. The Riders away record is 1-2 so far.
PASSING PROWESS: Saskatchewan quarterback Zach Collaros hasn't thrown an interception since he came off the injured list for the Riders 19-26 loss to the Eskimos on Aug. 2. The 29-year-old has thrown for 531 yards in his last two games.
A TALE OF TURNOVERS: Turnovers seem to have dictated games for both B.C. and Saskatchewan last week. The Riders forced five turnovers in their win over Calgary, while the Lions gave up three on their final three possessions.