Canadian Football League

CFL Preview - British Columbia (2-3) at Calgary (4-0)



From The Sports Network

By Gregg Xenakes, CFL Editor

DATE & TIME: Friday, August 1, 10 p.m. (ET).

GAME NOTES: The last of the unbeatens in the CFL takes the field on Friday night as the Calgary Stampeders play host the British Columbia Lions in a Western Division showdown at McMahon Stadium.

While the Lions are all alone in last place in the division, the only team among the five with three defeats already, Calgary continues to cruise along with an unblemished record.

For the first two games of 2014 the Stamps were untouchable, beating up on both Montreal (29-8) and Toronto (34-15), but then they were given a scare by Hamilton (10-7) and barely slipped by Edmonton last week (26-22). Against the Eskimos, Calgary had to hold on late in order to sustain victory, the team scoring just a pair of field goals after intermission.

The Stamps were held to only 13 first downs and 239 yards of total offense, partly due to the fact that they were flagged for 15 penalties, leading to a loss of 135 yards. Quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell managed to match former Calgary signal caller Jeff Garcia with seven straight wins as a starter to begin his CFL career, although his numbers in this particular meeting were far from impressive.

Mitchell, a former Walter Payton Award winner, completed just 14 of his 29 pass attempts, resulting in 124 yards and a single touchdown.

From a scoring standpoint, kicker Rene Paredes helped to shoulder the load as he knocked through all four of his field-goal chances and finished with 14 points.

Keenan MacDougall stepped up on special teams to block a punt and return it to the end zone in the first frame for the Stamps as well.

In news off the field for the Stamps this week, the team signed running back Hugh Charles to the practice squad. Charles was with Saskatchewan earlier in the campaign, playing in one game before being cut on July 16. The back has appeared in a total of 49 games during his CFL career, producing 2,170 rushing yards and 15 TDs on the ground, adding another 995 yards and six majors on 82 pass receptions dating back to 2008 when he broke in with the Riders.

As for the Lions, they went from crushing the Montreal Alouettes in Week 4 action (41-5) to being trounced by Winnipeg last week in a dismal 23-6 final in front of the hometown crowd. The only scoring for BC came from kicker Paul McCallum who converted field goals of 11 and 19 yards in the second quarter, keeping the team close in a 9-6 halftime bout.

Quarterback Kevin Glenn hit on 18-of-31 passes for 232 yards, but was picked off two times and sacked on five occasions. The Lions did not help themselves, committing 14 penalties for a loss of 122 yards.

Defensively, the Lions did well to limit Winnipeg to only 300 yards of offense, shutting down drives time after time. However, like McCallum for the Lions, the Blue Bombers brought kicker Lirim Hajrullahu out to make all five of his field-goal opportunities, en route to 16 total points.

British Columbia is currently third in the league in points allowed, giving up 18.4 ppg and while the unit has surrendered a league-high 13 field goals, most teams would take that number as long as the squad is preventing foes from getting into the end zone too often.

As for Glenn, a seasoned veteran, he seems to be taking a few too many gambles with his pass attempts and those have led to a league-high eight interceptions, while his TD passes are a bit lower with five.

There are a couple of silver linings in the BC defense though, with Solomon Elimimian and Adam Bighill placing first and second league-wide in tackles with 39 and 23, respectively.

Tied with Bighill with those 23 stops is Calgary's Brandon Smith, who had a total of 60 takedowns all of last season. Also not to be overlooked is Charleston Hughes, who has posted four sacks and is the league-leader with three forced fumbles.

Because of the efforts of Hughes and his teammates on that side of the ball, Calgary ranks first in the league in scoring defense, permitting a mere 13.0 ppg.

In terms of the all-time series between the clubs, one that takes into account only regular season battles stretching back to 1954, the Stamps are ahead by a count of 97-79-5, although BC has won two of the last three encounters. The most recent of those victories for the Lions was a 26-7 decision last November in Vancouver.

Even with Mitchell struggling last week, the Stamps found a way to come out on top and there's no reason to think the team can't make that happen again this week at home against a BC group that has had a couple of questionable efforts to this point.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Calgary 27, British Columbia 18

07/30 10:31:23 ET

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