VANCOUVER — Winnipeg Blue Bombers head coach Tim Burke undoubtedly has a long wish list for his 1-4 club heading into Monday’s game at B.C. Place Stadium against the 3-2 B.C. Lions.
One of Burke’s biggest wants is more turnovers from his defence, which he has put under considerable scrutiny during the recent three-game losing streak.
During this time, the Bombers have created just one turnover, while descending to the league’s worst turnover ratio, -12.
"I think the No. 1 thing is to be assignment-sharp," Burke said today at the stadium. "That’s the thing that’s hurt us the last couple of weeks. Really, some little things like alignments and we had some mental mistakes in the last game that gave up some big plays.
"We’re playing hard and our effort to the ball is great.
"The other thing I’d like to see from them is create more turnovers. We haven’t created any turnovers the last couple of weeks."
The coach did bring a little optimism with him as well.
He said he’s very much looking forward to having three key players back in the lineup this week, defenders Desia Dunn and Jeremy McGee and wide receiver Chris Matthews.
"We had a good week of practice," Burke said. "We’re trying to iron out the problems we have. We get some people back healthy this week so that’s going to help us, too."
The Bombers will be facing a Lions’ squad that was bounced 38-12 in Toronto on Tuesday.
That the other team’s unhappy is a story most coaches and teams hear several times a month.
"You can’t control the other team," Burke said. "You can only control yourself. That’s what I tell our guys every week."
B.C. is 16-2 at home since the stadium was renovated and re-opened nearly two years ago.
"It’s a tough city to play in," said veteran tackle Glenn January. "They always say Montreal’s a tough city to play in because all the young guys have the potential to be pulled out and have their thoughts somewhere else.
"This is a gorgeous city, has a lot of draws that can pull you away from focusing on the game. Whenever you walk into a fantastic facility like this, that’s another thing. And we have an off-week coming up.
"There’s a lot to overcome and I think that kind of falls on the shoulders of the vets who have been here, done that. I think we’ve done a fairly good job expressing to the guys that this is a fantastic team we’re playing and we have to understand we have a job to do when we come out here, otherwise we’re going to go into an off-week with a very bad taste in our mouths that could set us up for more difficult times down the road."
Winnipeg will start the game with its new No. 1 quarterback, Justin Goltz. Goltz did start last week at home but was given the "official" promotion just four days ago.
Earlier today, Lions quarterback Travis Lulay said that the move will likely foster a lot of confidence for Goltz.
"I think I’d respect Travis on that opinion," January said. "The quarterbacks are all in their own little fraternity and they know each other’s goings-ons better than anybody.
"I can tell you that just any player, whenever you have the confidence of your coach to step up and say you’re the man and you’re going to be the face of the organization moving forward, that’s a huge confidence builder. I think he’s ready for it and he’s certainly put in the time.
"I’m excited to see what the kid can do."
January said there weren’t monumental changes in Bombers’ practice this week because of it.
"Having him here for so long, it was kind of business as usual," he said. "It’s not a massive transition.
"You can’t really think too big-picture at this point. It’s one step at a time and right now, we’re in a position with a young quarterback with a heck of a lot of upside."
NOTES: The Bombers have moved strong-side linebacker Johnny Sears Jr. to the nine-game injured list. He got into just one game this season. "Johnny’s a very talented guy," Burke said. "You don’t get too many guys with as much talent as him and so when he’s out, obviously that hurts you."