Everyone has experienced missing out on an event that, well, develops into heavy jealousy. Whether it’s that party on a Friday night that you couldn’t make due to work, or what have you, we’ve all been there.
The CFL just like any league, prides itself on starting out strong. Television ratings have always been through the roof for the first week of the regular season, and teams love flying out of the gate with a big “W.”
Unfortunately for the B.C. Lions, they got the raw end of the deal this time around, with a week 1 bye. If you’re a pessimist, you can look at this like it’s quite the disadvantage. Having to wait one more week for the first game of the regular season is comparable to opening your Christmas presents a week later than everyone else does. Luckily, there’s almost always a silver lining to everything.
Quarterback Travis Lulay, who hasn’t been the same since injuring his shoulder on an impact play (rushing touchdown) in 2013, hasn’t showed consistent signs of his “Most Outstanding Player” self in 2011. After sitting out almost the entire 2014 season due to undergoing shoulder surgery in November of that year, Lulay, as well as running back Andrew Harris (returning from ankle surgery), have more time to adapt to the new coaching system. Enter Jeff Tedford.
This past December, Tedford, 53, was named the new head coach of the Lions. His predecessor, Mike Benevides, lasted only three years calling the shots after being promoted from defensive coordinator subsequently after the Leos hoisted the Grey Cup in 2011. Despite coaching the team to a highly-respectable 33-21 record and one Western Final berth in three seasons of action, Benevides was canned mainly in part to the fact that there simply needed to be a full-out culture change. He was a players’ coach at heart, and it was time for a drill-sergeant to replace him.
Let’s start off with Tedford’s resume, which includes coaching star QB Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers in the NFL, while being employed at California State University:
- 1993-97: Fresno State (OC/QB)
- 1998-2001: Oregon (OC/QB)
- 2002-12: California (HC)
- 2014: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (OC)
The main reason that the Buccaneers parted ways with Tedford was because of his ongoing health issues last year, which had not sufficiently improved, and in late September, he and the team agreed that he should take an indefinite leave of absence. Quite frankly, they barely got to know him, but the Lions already have.
Tempo and speed have been the main prerogatives set forth to the football club, as their whole offensive scheme has been altered.
“We were running play after play after play and by the time we got down there and scored that touchdown they were huffing and puffing,” said Andrew Harris. “We want to catch teams in those kinds of situations where we’re dictating what’s going on.”
With change comes a modified roster in itself. GM Wally Buono and Tedford have parted ways with longtime cornerback Dante Marsh, RB Stefan Logan, defensive lineman Eric Taylor, returner Tim Brown, as well as kicker Paul McCallum who was granted his release during training camp in early June – or at least that’s what Buono and Tedford will stick to saying.
Shortly after being cut, the veteran kicker with the Canadian Football Hall of Fame credentials took to Twitter and told CFL fans his side of the story:
“I don’t usually do this, but I want it to be very clear! I did not ask to be released! I was told to retire or I would be cut,” he wrote.
Whatever the case may be, McCallum’s days with the Lions were knowingly limited, and it’s great to see young guys like Anthony Fera and Richie Leone getting the chance to share the kicking and punting responsibilities, albeit they are both international players (American).
On offence, although the Lions lost a budding receiver in Ernest Jackson to Ottawa, they were still able to add former NFL receiver Austin Collie and tight end Cameron Morrah, while the defence will led once again by linebackers Solomon Elimimian and Adam Bighill. Elimimian was given the league’s most outstanding player award last season.
The Lions kick off the season on Saturday, July 4 in Ottawa against the Redblacks. They will play their home opener next Friday, July 10 against their arch-rival Saskatchewan Roughriders.
*Trevor Knapp’s 2015 B.C. Lions regular season prediction: 10-8 (wins-losses)*