Interview with Tibo Debaillie, defensive tackle of the BC Lions. Discussing the upcoming matchup against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in the West Finals. Topics include the game day preparations as well as thoughts on various players and teams throughout the league.
Tibo Debaillie has been a key element of the BC Lions’ interior defensive line playing at nose tackle and defensive tackle. On the season, Tibo has 14 tackles and a sack over the regular season. He had a run stop last week against Calgary tackling Ka’Deem Carey for a 7-yard loss.
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Congratulations on the big win last week against Calgary. Do you have family coming to the West Final as well?
“No. Unfortunately, not. No, my girlfriend and her brother tried to make it, but The flight tickets were just ridiculously expensive.”
Last week, what do you think the best elements of BC’s game were in that win?
“I think, like, we got off to a rocky start on defense. They scored pretty quickly, but everybody just stayed calm, and, we had a good couple of good stops. You know. And then the offense started scoring as well, and if our offense gets rolling, it’s pretty hard to stop them, so it was just overall, it was just a really good team.”
“When we kept our heads cool, and, we didn’t make the moment bigger than it was, and it worked out at the end, and I’m happy that we have the opportunity now to play for to be in the Grey Cup tomorrow.”
What do you think were maybe the lesser elements of BC’s games that have been being focused on to improve upon?
“Well, we always focus on the same. You know. We always as as a D-line we always try to stop the run first. I’ve said it before probably, but we just focus more on us than anything else.
“We just try to stop the run, tomorrow as well with Brady Olivero having a great season, we gotta make sure we stop them and make sure that they become 1 dimensional. And we gotta get after the quarterback as well, which is gonna be a hard task, but we’ve done it before. In the 1st game, we played him really well, and we’re gonna try to do that again tomorrow.”
Back in August, you mentioned that, about playing in Winnipeg that you love the environment with the fans, it’s often packed and loud. Does the environment have an effect on the game day preparations at all?
“No. No. Not at all. Personally, I just like to play there because the fans are so loud, and, they’re a bit more crazier than other fans. You know. And me being from Europe, I’ve been to a lot of soccer games, and the fans, they are crazy too. They just love the sport. They love their home team, I just love the energy and I try to feed off that.”
At the the time in August, you mentioned that Winnipeg’s offensive line, so far that season was the most exhausting to face. Do you still feel like that answer would be the same now?
“Yeah, yeah. I still feel the same way about them. You know, if you play Winnipeg’s offensive line, you know they’re gonna play hard for 4 quarters. You gotta make sure that you’re ready to play a team like that because if you’re not, they’re just gonna, simply said, they’re just gonna dominate you and and and put you on the ground. So you gotta Make sure you know that’s what’s gonna happen, so you gotta make sure you come up to play and, put your hand in the dirt and go as hard as you can every play. Otherwise, it’s gonna be, a long night playing against their O-line because they play so so well together. Like, they block well together, they play really hard, so you gotta make sure you’re ready to go.”
Coming back to the environment of the Winnipeg fans, how are you personally feeling about going back there for another playoff game?
“Well, it’s like it’s just it’s like the same scenario as last year, you know. So, of course, it’d be great to have the Western Final back in BC, but It’s not, so we gotta accept that and go out there tomorrow and give our best, and that’s about it, you know. That’s that’s all we can do. Play as hard as we can, for 4 quarters, and I hope we can come up with a win, tomorrow.”
Do you think that either team is more suited to play in cold weather?
“Well, we have a lot of guys out that have played in CFL for a while, so they’re used to the cold. And they have a lot of guys that have been around the league for a while, so. And we were at the stadium today just, trying to fill trying to feel the the grass and everything, and for me personally I don’t think it’s as cold as last year. Last year was pretty cold for me. That was probably the coldest game I’ve ever played in, so now it’s not even gonna be freezing at game time. So, it shouldn’t have that big of an effect, to be honest, on either team.
I’m gonna open the door for a little controversy, feel free to decline this question. I asked you previously [in August interview], I asked you which was your least favorite city to visit, and you said it was Winnipeg. What are your least favorite things about the city of Winnipeg?
“Well, there’s just not a lot to do here. You know? We’ve got the arrows around the corner, and that’s about it. So there’s not, if you go to Toronto, we can just walk around and explore the city a little bit the day before the game, and it’s a nice city, but there’s not a lot to do. And there’s snow everywhere and stuff, but I still love to play here. Like, it’s it’s still the best, other than BC plays, of course, it’s the most fun to play in.”
Last week, you had a solid run stop against Kadeem Carey. Looking at Winnipeg, it’s been a bit remarkable how Brady Olivera, he has 260 carries. What are your thoughts on Olivera, and does playing him change the preparations at all, or are the preparations always the same?
“Yeah. For us, the preparation is always the same. You know, we always try, like, last week, we faced a great back, this week, we face a great back again, and I hope we can do the same again. And we feel confident that we can do the same again against Oliveira. If you look at the 1st game, I think we did pretty good on limiting him because once he gets going, he’s, he’s pretty hard to stop. So I hope we can do that again, tomorrow, and we’ve done the preparation to make sure that we can limit him.”
What do you think is the most dangerous part overall of Winnipeg’s game that is key to minimize for BC to get the win?
“Yeah. I feel like just as just like how we are in offense, they are in offense. Once they get going, they just, it’s just full gas all the way through the game, and they, Like, the 2nd time we played them, they scored pretty quickly. Same as our offense. If our offense can score pretty, if our offense can throw 3 touchdowns in the first quarter, it’s gonna be hard to to stop them as well, so that’s probably, their biggest threat to us.”
Last week the Lions were very successful in getting pressure on Jake Mayer. You had a QB hurry as well. And Winnipeg is a team, they’ve had obviously so much success in the passing game. Do you feel like it’s more important this week to get pressure on the quarterback?
“Well, it’s important for, it’s important every week to get pressure on the quarterback because if the quarterback can just stay in the pocket and not really worry about scrambling or worrying about getting hit. The QB is gonna have a good day, so every single game, we try to put as much pressure on the QB as possible. And even if Collaros, if he gets pressured, he’s still he’s a very good scrambler, so we gotta make sure we hit him, early and often and get him on the ground as much as we can.”
I was looking at Winnipeg’s entry list earlier. They have, Dalton Shone, Nick Demski, Jeremy Murphy, Rashid Bailey, and Jackson Jeffcoat, all listed as questionable. There was a week earlier in the season, Winnipeg had 12 players listed as questionable. And a lot of them were full practice participants and they still listed them as questionable. So BC looking at all the players listed as questionable, does that change the game-day preparations, or is there somewhat of an in-house understanding that the injury reports are sometimes used for misdirection?
“Yeah yeah exactly. Just what you said, you know. Maybe it might be used as misdirection. I think I think that they’re not dressing Schoen, which is I think that’s, official. So, that’s all, you know. Like you said, Bailey was on the game-time decision, a couple other guys Demski as well I think. But we’re still thinking that they’re gonna be a full go. So, yeah, that’s just how it goes sometimes, you know.”
Looking at Winnipeg’s defensive side of the ball, What are some players that stand out to you when you watch them?
“I think it’s pretty obvious Adam Big Hill, you know. He’s definitely the captain of that of that defense, he’s so smart. A couple of guys that play for us now have played with him, and they have nothing but praise when they talk about him. He’s a great guy, great linebacker, all over the field. Could read an offense like a book, you know.
“So, and then and then we got Willie Jefferson and Jackson Jeffcoat, they’re just very big threats on the edge as well. So they have a all-around, just solid defense, and they don’t make a lot of mistakes as well. That’s probably one of their biggest successes on both offense and defense. They’ll never kill themselves. They don’t make a lot of mistakes, and that’s I think a big part of their success.”
Coming into this game the odds makers predict Winnipeg to win, does that ever have an impact on the mentality when you’re a underdog or does it add motivation? Is there a change in the pressure? Does it impact any way in which you prepare for the game or how you see things?
“No, for me, if I see that stuff, like, the game still has to be played, you know. I think I read somewhere that we have, like a 3 percent shot of making the Grey Cup, but that’s just all numbers and just the media trying to blow stuff up and make it bigger than it is, you know.
I don’t really pay a lot of attention to that.”
“They could think whatever they want about me or our team. I don’t really care about that as long as my teammates respect me and my coaches respect me. That’s all that matters and everybody sees how much everybody’s working on the team, so don’t really care about all that stuff.”
Do you wanna make a prediction on who you think is gonna win the east finals between Toronto and Montreal?
“Yeah, so one of my one of my, best friends plays for Toronto, so I have to I have to go with Toronto, you know, so I hope I can face I can see him next week. And, after the season, we actually have a bachelor’s that we’re attending both together for a friend that plays in Edmonton. So, it’s gonna be a great bachelor party for 1 of us, so I think it’ll be fun to play against him in the Grey Cup.”
Who was that?
I appreciate you taking the time right before the game to come to answer my questions.
“Absolutely, no problem. Hope I could see you in person next week.”
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