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Lions defence stresses need for communication ahead of Ticats tilt

SURREY, B.C. — Following a close loss to the Saskatchewan Roughriders, the message on the B.C. Lions defence is the need for better communication.
BC Lions quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. (3) throws against Saskatchewan Roughriders during the first half of CFL football action in Regina, on Sunday, August 20, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Heywood Yu

SURREY, B.C. — Following a close loss to the Saskatchewan Roughriders, the message on the B.C. Lions defence is the need for better communication.

The Lions secondary was hammered by Roughriders third-string quarterback Jake Dolegala, who finished the game 18-29 with 239 yards and three touchdowns.

"Every time you see us giving up big plays, it's not guys being out of position, it's communication," said corner Garry Peters. "They gave us everything they had, you can't wait until the second half to show up."

But the loss that dropped the Lions to 7-3 wasn't for a lack of trying.

Quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. found himself with almost no time in the pocket for most of the game but still threw for 455 yards, three touchdowns and an interception, going 26-41.

"We kind of expect to win every week and when we lose, it hurts that much more," said Peters.

Part of the issue was an offensive line that struggled with the pass protection from the Roughriders defence, but it's still an area of the team that Lions head coach Rick Campbell says he has confidence in.

"Our O-line still did very good things, I think the crowd noise might have been an issue," said Campbell. "We're always concerned about everything and improving, but I like our (offensive line) and their overall body of work."

Players like wide receiver Keon Hatcher stayed behind at a previous practice to work on throws he had missed in the game against the Roughriders, in a bid to ensure it wouldn't happen again.

"A lot of our guys have been itching to get back on the practice field," said Campbell.

The Ticats (3-6) are coming in to the tilt after losing to the Edmonton Elks, the Alberta club's first win in 13 attempts.

"Every team is capable … there's no bad team where you throw on the film and say 'these guys just don't look good or just don't have good players," Campbell said. "We haven't seen these guys in a long time. We only played them once last year in Vancouver, which I think was over a year ago. It's fun to see a new opponent."

It also marks the return of former Lions tailback James Butler, who left in the off-season for Hamilton.

"At the end of the day, they’re a professional team. They've got James Butler … and you know how J.B. is going to come in. He’s going to want to run the ball,” said Peters. “They've got a lot of good weapons around the quarterback, so we’re not going to take them lightly. It’s a big challenge; we want to come out and make a statement.

"We don't want to put two losses on the board, back-to-back."

Part of what drives the defence, Peters acknowledged, is the Lions' streak of having only given up one touchdown at home all regular season.

"Lots of guys get here early on home game days," said Peters. "There's no greater feeling than playing at home in front of your fans."


BETTS WATCH: Mathieu Betts now has 11 sacks for the season, and the sole one in the game against the Roughriders and is still in the hunt to break the record for most sacks by a Canadian player.

EX-LIONS RETURN: Saturday's game marks the return of former Lions tail back James Butler as well as Joel Figueroa — although he won't play due to being on the injured list — as well as defensive back Chris Edwards.

HOME COMFORTS: The Lions are undefeated at home this season and have only given up one touchdown at B.C. Place during that time.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 25, 2023.

Nick Wells, The Canadian Press