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CFL Week 9 Talking Points: Calgary vs British Columbia

LWOS CFL writers Thomas Gunther and Kelly Bale are back! In the CFL Week 9 Talking Points the writers discuss the big takeaways from the game.

Continuing with the CFL Talking Points series, Last Word On Sports CFL writers Thomas Gunther and Kelly Bale are back with the the latest game breakdown. First in the West was on the line and the Calgary Stampeders took it with a 37-9 victory over the B.C. Lions. Thomas and Kelly address the big questions raised by the game as well as their overall impressions of each team. For last week’s recap of the first game, you can click here. Let’s get start with the key takeaways in the CFL Week 9 Talking Points.

CFL Week 9 Talking Points

British Columbia Lions

1) The Lions appeared to be outclassed in every facet of the game. Comment on what went wrong with B.C. in one of their most important games this year.

Kelly Bale: B.C. came out flat, they went into the half flat, and they were flat for the entire second half. The defence couldn’t solve the flat route Calgary threw over and over again. Untimely penalties didn’t help the Lions either and it seemed as if Jonathan Jennings wasn’t getting the protection he usually enjoys.

Thomas Gunther: It’s hard to pinpoint an area where it went all wrong because it felt like the entire team was playing at half speed. If a single aspect stood out the most it was the terrible tackling on Calgary’s flat and underneath routes. It felt like every time Bo Levi Mitchell threw it short the pass ended up going for 10+ yards, not quite a winning strategy on defence.

2) One of the Lions’ biggest strengths is their head coach Wally Buono. Looking back was there anything Buono could have done differently to get the Lions a win?

KB: Within the game it was hard to see any deficiencies Buono could have corrected. Perhaps Buono’s effort to prepare his staff and players could have been better to start the game. The Lions looked tight and lacked focus going into the game, and that’s usually a reflection of the coaches and how prepared they are.

TG: If any coach could have turned around the Lions at half-time Buono would have been the one to do it. The fact that B.C. came out just as flat after half-time is an indication of how ill-prepared the team was coming into this match-up. It may just be a blip on the radar, but it seems concerning that B.C. was not ready to play this week… at all. Buono will need to step up and light a fire under his team in future games with this level of importance.

3) Despite the loss the Lions remain in second place in the West Division. What does B.C. have to do to prevent this loss from tripping them up going forward?

KB: It’s a bit cliche but the Lions have to just move on from this loss and prepare for their next opponent. B.C. should have some extra film sessions with the corners and halfbacks on that flat route that gave Calgary so many key yards and first downs. The Lions must keep focused because the real season starts in about two weeks and they’ve got to outright beat Calgary in the standings to get first place and the bye.

TG: Burn the game tape. There is little to be learned from the collapse the Lions endured in this game and it might be better to move on as fast as possible. B.C. is a great team and will bounce back to keep pace with the Stampeders in the West, but tonight’s “effort” or lack-there-of should be forgotten.

Top Performer

KBJason Aragki takes the top performer for the Lions. He sets the all time CFL record for special teams tackles with 185 and players like him don’t get the credit they deserve often enough. Aragki is an outstanding player whom the Lions drafted and developed and he deserves the attention.

TGAdam Bighill and Solomon Elimimian split this award for the Lions. While the rest of the team seemed lost while going through the motions both players went about their business making tackles and trying to hold the team together. Real leaders play hard even when everyone else has given up and that was evident tonight with these two linebackers.

Calgary Stampeders

1) Calgary had a big challenge going up against a strong B.C. special teams unit. How did the Stampeders stack up against the Lions?

TG: Both special teams units had some mental gaffes, particularly in the fumbling department. Both teams also had solid returns from Chris Rainey and Roy Finch to help their field position. The big difference in this game was the Calgary offence was able to convert their field position into points while BC struggled regardless of where they started.

KB: The biggest gaffe was the Lions long-snapper Mike Benson leaving the box too early on a Richie Leone punt that pinned Calgary deep. The Stamps netted a 40 yard gain on the re-punt and put the Lions even further behind in their comeback effort.

2) It is a long season, but based on the past two weeks where do the Stampeders rank in offence and defence compared to the rest of the CFL?

TG: The answer is the same whether it’s the last two weeks or the entire season up to now, Calgary is #1 on both sides of the ball. You can throw the Stamps into the #1 spot for special teams as well, Rob Maver, Rene Paredes, and Finch are all playing at the top of their game. It may only be Week 9 but it doesn’t seem like anyone can hang with Calgary right now.

KB: The top special teams unit belongs to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, but outside them the Stamps rule the roost. Offensively Calgary looks like they are already in Week 20 and primed for the playoffs, and the same with the defence. The only concern for Stamps fans would be the team peaking too early, after all there is still 11 weeks to go.

3) How much did success on second-down conversions help the Stampeders victory?

TG: The Stampeders have the best in the business at converting on second down in receiver Marquay McDaniel. Combine this with Jerome Messam, a running back who can always get extra yards when needed, and the Stamps are nearly impossible to defend. If you can convert on second down your offence has another chance to score, and that is a huge reason the Stamps are cruising in the West.

KB: This was the single biggest factor in the game. The B.C. defence was on the field far too long and it really tired the unit out. If there is a consistent area of deficiency for B.C. this season it might be the low time-of-possession on offence, and it is certainly something Buono will look to improve going forward.

Top Performer

TG: It’s time to give the fullback some love. Rob Cote, one of the unsung heroes of the Stampeders over the past several years, has always been willing to do the dirty work on the Calgary offence. Tonight he was rewarded for his actions with an easy touchdown strike from Mitchell to further the Calgary onslaught. In addition, Cote also had the play of the game when he stopped Rainey from breaking a big kick return to the house.

KB: McDaniel gets the vote. There were many great players for the Stamps but time and again McDaniel had the crucial second down reception to keep the drive alive. This skill is what makes him the CFL’s most productive second-down player.

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