Technically I’m on holidays, so I took the rare opportunity to watch tonight’s game on TSN instead of at Estadio McMahon and came away very impressed with the work of TSN play-by-play man Matt Devlin, who filled in for Rod Black, who’s calling the London Olympics. Devlin is hardly a rookie, having called NFL games in the past, and that pedigree showed tonight.
So, too, did the pedigree of the B.C. Lions’ offence, which simply dominated the Stampeders’ D. It was a wonderful game plan put together by Jacques Chapdelaine, which kept the Stampeders off balance all night. A perfect example of the class shown tonight by the Lions: they converted 22 of their 29 second-down plays into first downs, a staggering 75.9 per cent success ratio. The league average entering Week 5 was 45.1 per cent.
Even worse: the Lions were 12-for-17 when they were facing second and six yards or more. Those are wonderful numbers if you’re a Lions fan; appalling for a Stampeder fan.
The Stamps’ offence, on the other hand, was MIA. The running game is a disaster right now, and Jon Cornish hasn’t been a factor. Especially troublesome is the body language he’s showing as he sees no daylight on a repeated basis. You have to wonder if this is wearing thin with his teammates, but at the same time, it’s hard to blame him for being frustrated.
The two play calls in the third quarter — handing the ball off on second and one instead of having Bo Levi Mitchell sneak the football, and then faking the third-down punt — will be second-guessed, and quite rightly so. But in both cases, I took more issue with the execution rather than the play calls. And the execution was lacking — typical for the evening.
You have to wonder, too, about the confidence level of Johnny Forzani. He had two drops last week — one on the underthrown pass in the first half and the other late in the fourth quarter — and a horribly timed fumble tonight, and you have to think bye week is a perfect opportunity for him to take a deep breath and relax.
The same can be said for the entire Stampeder team. This has not been an ideal five-week stretch of football. Yes, losing your starting quarterback in the fifth quarter of the regular season hasn’t helped matters. But too often, the Stampeders have shot themselves in the foot with poor discipline, in the form of penalties, turnovers and missed tackles.
This is not a bad football team. But it is a football team that played badly this evening. That’s a fine distinction but an important one. The Stamps are fortunate in that they have company in the West Division when it comes to finding consistency. But it’s obvious some solutions have to be found in the next week and a half before the Stamps return to action in Hamilton.