Sports

B.C. Lions not panicking after slow start

Kevin Glenn came to camp as the BC Lions
Kevin Glenn came to camp as the BC Lions' second-string quarterback, and is now starting in place of the injured Travis Lulay. BC is 0-2 to start its 2014 CFL season.
— image credit: The Canadian Press

By Joshua Clipperton, The Canadian Press

SURREY, B.C. - Kevin Glenn wants everyone to take a deep breath.

Despite guiding the B.C. Lions to a sluggish 0-2 start to the CFL season — including an anaemic offensive performance in last week's 24-9 road loss to the Montreal Alouettes — the club's veteran quarterback is confident things will turn around soon.

For a team that has designs on playing in the Grey Cup game set for its backyard, they better.

"I wouldn't push the panic button just yet. It's a long season," Glenn said after Tuesday's practice. "There is a sense of urgency and I think everybody understands that around here just because of the nature of our profession. We don't have to panic. We just have to go make sure we understand what's going on and we go out and execute in the game."

Starting in place of injured No. 1 quarterback Travis Lulay, Glenn has thrown six interceptions and has been sacked nine times through two games. It's a small sample size, but also a troubling trend for a team that has a new offensive co-ordinator, a new scheme and a rebuilt offensive line in 2014.

"There's no excuses around here," said Glenn. "We've just got to believe in each other, believe in the systems and what we're doing and just get this thing turned around."

In truth, the Lions' offence has been ravaged by injury early in the season, with both the receiving corps and line taking major personnel hits.

B.C. head coach Mike Benevides is hoping to get receivers Marco Iannuzzi and Emmanuel Arceneaux back for Saturday's visit to Regina to take on the Saskatchewan Roughriders (1-1), but it's clear everyone on the roster has to be better.

"I think what it has come down to, and I have told the players this, is making plays," said Benevides. "It's different if we just can't get squat done. But there's points where there's a throw to be made into the end zone, let's make it. There's an interception to be made, let's make it. There's a ball on the ground ... let's all run to the ball and get the ball.

"Every single one of us, and that includes us with the whistles, we just have to find ways to make some plays. We have go gain confidence and we have to get better right away because right now it's not good enough at all."

The offensive line lost three starters to retirement in the off-season and new starting left tackle Andre Ramsey went down to injury in the season opener. The Lions brought in Ryan Cave last week, but he was victimized by Montreal's defence in the first half after taking part in just two practices with his new teammates.

Still, Benevides said Glenn — who has just two touchdown passes to go along with a 58.5 per cent completion rate — has to make the right decisions in crucial moments.

"Five sacks (against the Alouettes) are too much. The hits are too much. We have to fix that right away, but there are certain plays he has to make himself and he knows that," said Benevides. "Two weeks in a row there was a play to be made in the end zone without pressure, let's make that play. He knows that."

In his first season with B.C. after being acquired at the CFL draft in a trade with the Ottawa Redblacks, Glenn has been through his share of ups and downs in his career and said the Lions are still a confident bunch.

"We've got a lot of guys here that believe in each other and I think that's the biggest thing," said the 35-year-old. "If you still have guys that believe in each other and know that it's going to get done ... it's going to get done."

Answering questions about early-season struggles is something many of the Lions have had to deal with in the not-too-distant past. The 2011 team started 0-5 before rallying to not only make the playoffs, but win the Grey Cup at B.C. Place Stadium — the same field where the big game will be held in November.

That doesn't mean they want to take the same route in 2014.

"At the end of the day we've got a lot to build on. Our foundation is still solid and everybody still has confidence in the locker-room. We just have to apply it to the field," said veteran defensive back Ryan Phillips, before cautioning: "Everybody should be concerned to some degree. We can't go off the past and say we've been here before and things like that.

"Our backs are against the wall right now and that's the reality of it. You're only as good as your last game."

On top of looking for their first victory of the season this weekend in what is sure to be a hostile environment in Regina, the Lions will take on a Roughriders team that ended their season in 2013 before capturing the Grey Cup.

"We are pissed off, we've lost two in a row. They are going to play at home," said Benevides. "It's loud and it's hard to play there. Our guys have done it before and challenged them really well. I really don't care about the opponent. It's about us performing better.

"There is no need for any extra motivation right now. We suck. We haven't won two games in a row and we have to win right away."

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