BC won a close game in Hamilton thanks to another Sean Whyte game-winning field goal. Takeaways from the game and thoughts on the Lions moving forward as they prepare to make a run for the Grey Cup.
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The Passing Game
I have little say because this has been consistently an area of excellence for the BC Lions. Vernon Adams Jr. had another day putting up great numbers. The interception was perhaps too aggressive throwing the ball 25 yards downfield to Hatcher in double coverage. Overall I thought Vernon Adams Jr. played very well completing 21 of his 30 passes for 296 yards and 2 touchdowns with 1 interception.
Dane Evans played well also coming in relief of Adams completing all 4 of his passes for 42 yards helping to set up the game-winning field goal in the 4th quarter.
Keon Hatcher frequently did a good job fighting for extra yards and led the team in receptions with 6 catches for 92 yards, 44 of which were YAC.
Alexander Hollins was 2nd in yards catching 7 passes for 85 yards and a touchdown. He made a great catch on a 12-yard play laying out for the ball.
Jevon Cottoy had 5 catches for 59 yards and has had at least 40 yards in each of the last 8 games.
Lucky Whitehead had 3 catches for 40 yards and Dominique Rhymes had 1 catch for 5 yards. BC has one of the most well-rounded and talented receiving group among their starting 5 with a surplus of talent.
BC’s Run Game So Far This Season
A common topic of conversation has been BC’s lack of a running game this season among Lions’ fans. Heading into last weekend BC had the league’s second-lowest yards per rush attempt at 4.8 but this fact is made less detrimental when you consider they are not that far behind Toronto’s 5.2 yards per rush attempt who were 4th in the league in this metric and are considered a good rushing team. What BC has truly been lacking in respect to the ground game is the frequency at which they run the ball. BC has the 2nd most pass attempts in the league at 546 but they have the least rushing attempts in the league at 272.
A Note on Taquan Mizzell’s Season
BC fans have often stated online this season that they felt they needed a better running back. However, Taquan Mizzell has had quite a few strong games on the ground and has averaged a healthy 4.9 yards per carry. He has rushed 157 times for 773 yards and 3 touchdowns. It may have felt at times like Mizzell was performing poorly as he has had 6 games in which he averaged under 4 yards per carry. However, of those 6 games, Mizzell had 7 or fewer carries in 4 of those games as BC would at times abandon the run prematurely.
Over the 9 games in which Mizzell has 10 carries or more, he has rushed 124 times for 651 yards averaging 5.25 yards per carry in those games.
JaQuan Hardy’s First CFL Game
Hardy did not have an impressive statline on the ground rushing 8 times for 26 yards averaging 3.3 yards per carry. However, I do believe he played well and passed the eye test. I was impressed by his pass-blocking abilities which he demonstrated very early in the game by throwing a heavy block on Casey Sayles knocking him to the ground. He did a good job recognizing where the pass rush was breaking through and got in position to make his blocks throughout the game.
He demonstrated his physicality again later in the game when he pursued Dexter Lawson Jr. on a long interception return and shoved Chris Edwards off his feet into Lawson knocking them both out of bounds.
Hardy’s 9 Carries
1. The first run got 2 extra yards after contact with 2 defenders closing on him on a 5-yard run outside to the left.
2. 2nd rush was for 4 yards and was just a really solid tackle from Thurman on another outside run to the left.
3. Broke a tackle on a 2-yard outside run play
4. Broke a tackle on an 18-yard run down the middle
5. Broke a tackle at the line but then got tackled behind the line of scrimmage losing 3 yards trying to bounce outside.
6. 0-yard run up the middle with nowhere to go and Casey Sayles and Simoni Lawrence taking him down.
7. The 7th carry was a 3-yard loss getting smoked by Simoni Lawrence the moment he got the ball. Simoni got into the backfield rather cleanly on this play.
8. Sayles plugged the hole on a 3-yard run and he tried to bounce outside but Burke closed in for a tackle.
9. Hardy broke a tackle on a 6-yard run outside to the left but the play had holding negating the play.
Hardy’s 3 Receptions
Hardy also caught all 3 of his targets for 40 yards with 34 YAC.
1. Did a good job picking up extra yards on a 10-yard reception.
2. 13-yard reception mostly YAC.
3. 17-yard reception 2nd half turning up the field quickly to take advantage of open space.
I believe Hardy played well in this game despite the rushing average being on the lower side. Hamilton’s defense simply was better at run-stopping than BC was at run-blocking for this contest resulting in runs up the middle finding little success. If I was a CFL Manager I would feel comfortable with having JaQuan Hardy in my lineup based on what we have seen so far.
Please note the stats listed below from “QB Hurry” to “Pass Defend” are stats that I recorded and are not official CFL stats.
At times there were some discipline issues with Mathieu Betts taking a roughing the punter penalty and on the next play an unnecessary roughness penalty pulling off the running back’s helmet. Sione Teuhema drew an unnecessary roughness penalty in the 2nd quarter hitting the quarterback late after he threw.
Overall I felt it was a pretty good game for the Lions defensive lineman. As usual with the way they rotate some of their linemen, there were many contributors for the Lions. Woody Baron and Mathieu Betts both had 4 QB hurries. Davie Menard and Sione Teuhema had 3 total pressures with Menard picking up one of the Lions’ sacks. Teuhema and Josh Banks both had a run stop. Amir Siddiqi helped with 2 run stops. Tibo Debaillie had a QB hurry and assisted with a run stop in which he and Siddiqi quickly closed a hole Butler was trying to run through.
A big storyline out of this game was Mathiue Betts getting his 17th sack in 17 games tying a CFL record for most sacks in a season by a Canadian. Betts picked up his 17th sack against Hamilton displaying good pursuit on the quarterback as he attempted to scramble to the outside.
Bo Lokombo not only led the team in tackles last week but was effective in blitz packages with 2 QB hurries and broke up a pass as well on a blitz in the first quarter. Hladik had 2 run stops while Lokombo had 1.
Emmanuel Rugamba had a fantastic special teams tackle on a kickoff in addition to his 3 tackles. He did have a run stop in the third quarter but it was negated by a penalty. Rugamba did get knocked over when his man scored a 7-yard touchdown as cornerback Mike Jones pressed his receiver on a crossing route resulting in the receiver accidently being pushed into Rugamba creating the space needed for the score. It was a play that felt like unfortunate timing for the Lions rather than either player standing out as playing poorly.
Josh Woods made a massive contribution with a 46-yard touchdown return off of an interception by Bo Levi Mitchell.
Garry Peters did not allow any big plays his way and had 5 tackles.
Mike Jones broke up a short pass but did get beat over the middle on a play in which the receiver picked up some YAC for a 36-yard gain.
At halfback, TJ Lee allowed an 11-yard touchdown to his man on a play that was a great throw and the coverage was not bad. The other halfback, Marcus Sayles, had a couple of key plays come his way in a 5-yard touchdown to his man on a slant route and later was beat on a 30-yard gain. Sayles broke up a pass in the end zone in the third quarter. Overall I felt Sayles played well also.
At safety, Quincy Mauger provided tight coverage on a third-quarter incompletion.
It cannot be overemphasized what a tremendous asset Sean Whyte is. Last week he went 4 for 4 on field goals including a 48 yard game winner. He also made his 3 extra points. Whyte has made 49 of his 52 field goals this season with 2 of those misses being beyond 50 yards. From 40-49 yards he is remarkably 22 for 23. He has attempted 23 field goals from this range.
His accuracy is above and beyond what is expected out of NFL kickers. If you compare him to the most accurate kicker from distance in the NFL last year, Eddy Pineiro, who made 13 of his 14 field goals from the 40-49 yard range in 2022. Pineiro was 2/2 from 50+ yards while Whyte is 2/4 this season. Pineiro did miss one of his 17 attempts from 30-39 yards in 2022 while Whyte remains perfect on his 12 attempts from that range this season.
Long story short Sean Whyte is not just comparable to NFL placekickers but he stands out when compared with them.
Terry Williams had a big 49-yard kickoff return in the third quarter breaking a tackle on the way. Williams averaged 27.6 yards per kickoff return last week on 5 returns and 9.3 yards per return on 3 punts. Williams has had some strong performances this season and has been named to the Pro Football Focus Team of the Week in weeks 9, 10, and 15.
2nd to Last Play of the Game
With 4 seconds left the Lions were aiming to pick up some yards to quickly get into field goal range with the game tied 30 to 30. Dane Evans threw a quick 10-yard pass to Keon Hatcher who quickly got down to the ground so that the Lions could stop the clock in time for a field goal. Hamilton linebacker Simoni Lawrence rushed to tag him down for the tackle doing so with 1 second left on the clock. Had Simoni not rushed to tag Hatcher on the ground the time may have expired and this game could have gone to overtime.
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