May 24, 2015


Record: 7–11–0

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Blue Bomber Report

5 story lines

Lions ride on back of their running back

VANCOUVER -- The Winnipeg Blue Bombers face an uphill climb in BC Place, playing one of the league's stingiest-ever defences and a running back named the CFL offensive star of the week for two weeks straight.

Liam Richards / the canadian press files
Lions� Andrew Harris (33) � twice in a row the CFL offensive player of the week � will be a handful for the Bombers.

CP

Liam Richards / the canadian press files Lions� Andrew Harris (33) � twice in a row the CFL offensive player of the week � will be a handful for the Bombers.

22

The B.C. running back -- and Winnipeg native -- was the CFL offensive player of the week in each of the last two weeks -- and, not coincidentally, the Lions won both times.

Lions head coach Mike Benevides said Thursday he plans to show a particularly spectacular 58-yard touchdown run Harris made in a Week-3 Lions win over Saskatchewan to his club every week for the rest of this season for inspiration.

"They've got to see it -- that's who we want to be. That's someone that's going to do more than is required," said Benevides.

How important is Harris to the Lions' fortunes? Well, consider this statistic dug up this week by CFL statistician Steve Daniel -- When Harris rushes 10 times or more in a game, the Lions are 23-2 in his career.

2

The Lions put on an almost other-worldy display of defence last week in a 41-5 win over the Montreal Alouettes, holding the Als to just 62 yards passing -- the lowest total surrendered by a Lions defence in 40 years.

How dominating was it? Well, consider this: the Als did not run a single offensive play inside the B.C. 20-yard line all game long. And the first time they got inside the B.C. 35 was on their final offensive play of the game.

"Obviously, they're impressive," the Bombers QB said. "But I like what we're doing in our game plan. I like the way we practised this week -- we were real focused and ready to go.

"It's always a fun atmosphere to play here and we're looking forward to it."

2

The Bombers tailback is tied for second in the CFL in rushing yards -- behind only B.C.'s Harris -- but he's been held to 84 yards on just 17 carries in his last two games combined as the Bombers bailed on their running game in a narrow come-from-behind win over Montreal in Week 3 and then a blowout loss to Edmonton last week.

It's tough to run when you're behind on the scoreboard, but it's also tough to get ahead on the scoreboard if you don't have an effective running game. And, as Montreal learned last week, that's particularly true against a league-leading B.C. pass defence.

2

The Lions and Bombers have both surrendered 15 sacks this season. That's the second most in the CFL, behind only the 17 surrendered by the Toronto Argos.

It's tough to run an offence effectively when your quarterback is running for his life all the time. And the icepack that Willy was wearing on his left ankle following last week's loss to the Eskimos illustrated the danger for the Bombers of playing with that kind of fire week in and week out.

But on the plus side, if the Bombers defence can get into the Lions backfield tonight, B.C. QB Kevin Glenn has a long history in this league of making the bad throw when under duress -- and Glenn once again this season leads the CFL in interceptions with six.

2

You can read about this issue in more detail elsewhere in today's paper, but it bears repeating here simply because it is such a dominant theme this season now that the Bombers are once again playing in the West Division:

If Winnipeg is going to compete effectively in the West, they are going to have to first figure out how to win in the West, something they haven't done anywhere other than BC since 2006 -- and nowhere at all since August 2011.

paul.wiecek@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @PaulWiecek

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 25, 2014 C3

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