Last Sunday the Ticats defence faced the CFL’s best scoring offence in Montreal. Come Saturday, it won’t get much easier as B.C. brings the second ranked scoring offence to the Steel City. The Lions have averaged 28.6 point per game this season and more impressively, B.C. has averaged over 32 points during their current eight-game winning streak. Pulling the trigger for the explosive Lions attack is third year pivot Travis Lulay.
“He’ll run and throw or he’ll take off and gain yards by himself and extend drives. Those are the toughest guys to play against because they have that extra dynamic,” head coach Marcel Bellefeuille said. ”He’s accurate and he looks to run when he doesn’t have his first or second read — he makes plays doing that.”
Ticats defensive end Stevie Baggs got a glimpse of the potential in Lulay, who has put up better numbers than every other quarterback in the league this season save for Anthony Calvillo, when the Lions made a visit to Ivor Wynne on November 6 last year.
”I saw his ability when they came here last year and beat us,” Baggs said.
Even though number 55 knows him and the defence have their work cut out for them, it is a match-up Baggs and his defensive mates are looking forward to.
“It’s a great challenge,” he said. “They’re on a great winning streak right now.”
Before the Lions hit their wining stride over the last eight games, they had managed just one win over their first seven games. One of the six early season losses B.C. suffered was courtesy of the Tiger-Cats.
In week four Hamilton earned a 39-31 victory on the left coast. A game in which the Ticats offence had a banner day. Kevin Glenn put up over 300 yards in the air and Avon Cobourne hit the century mark, to go along with two touchdowns on the ground for the first time as a Ticat.
“We beat them before and I feel like we can do that again,” Cobourne said after a chilly final day of preparation at Ivor Wynne Stadium on Thursday.
Come game time, the Lions will be missing a key contributor in the middle of their defence. 2010 CFL Rookie of the Year, middle linebacker Soloman Elimimian, who is second among all tacklers in 2011 with 81, has been ruled out for Saturday’s game with an ankle injury.
B.C. will put a mini two-game Ivor Wynne win streak on the line Saturday. The Lions snatched a 23-21 victory in the final game of the regular season last year and in 2009 put an end to the Ticats campaign, prevailing 34-27 in the East Semi-Final. Although, Stala says what’s in the past can’t be changed.
“That’s done with. We already beat them this year and we’re going to try and put a stop to their winning streak,” he said. “People are saying they’re the best team in the league so it would be nice to put a little shock to them and get on a roll ourselves.”
Hamilton will continue to change the pace against the Lions defence, using a combination of Glenn and Quinton Porter at the pivot position.
”Both guys are still going to play,” Bellfeuille said. “We’re going to find the right formula going into playoffs.”
Hamilton’s head coach knows what he would like to see out of his team against the Lions.
“You have to fight fire with fire a little bit,” he said. “We have to be in a situation where we’re taking care of the football and making them earn every yard that they get.”