VANCOUVER – The B.C. Lions know their next opponent has more to show than the CFL standings may suggest.
The Hamilton Tiger-Cats take a 1-4 record into their Thursday matchup in Vancouver, but the team remains a serious threat, said Lions defensive back Garry Peters.
“We’re not taking them lightly at all. Their record doesn’t show how good (they are), how much talent they have on their team,” he said. “So we’re just preparing like every week, like we’re playing Winnipeg, Edmonton, whoever else we’re playing.”
After another week off – their second bye week of the young CFL season – the Lions (3-1) are simply “itching” to play this week, said head coach Rick Campbell.
“We had a good prep week and I think we’re excited to play,” he said. “It’s been a while since we’ve played and we just want to get out there and playing football again.”
B.C. hasn’t suited up for a game since July 9 when they were trounced 43-22 by the league-leading Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
While the Lions have moved past the loss, quarterback Nathan Rourke there are still lessons to be taken from the defeat.
“You can’t make as many mistakes as we did against championship teams like that,” he said. “We’ve learned from them, we’ve grown, we’ve gotten better. It was good to kind of have a week to let that marinate a little bit.”
The Ticats, meanwhile, head to Vancouver on a high after beating the Ottawa Redblacks 25-23 on Saturday for their first win of the season.
It’s a game that could mark a turning point for Hamilton, said Steven Dunbar Jr.
“I think that we’ve just been consistently working at it. And I think this past weekend, things just kind of clicked for us,” said Dunbar, who made a stunning one-handed catch in the win.
Ticats quarterback Dane Evans threw for 342 yards, including two touchdowns and no interceptions. The performance, which earned a CFL performer of the week nod, marked the 10th time in his career Evans recorded more than 300 passing yards in a game.
On the other side of the field, Hamilton has long been known as a tough defence to crack, despite giving up an average of 28.2 points per game this season.
The Lions will have their hands full when they hit the field, Campbell said.
“We’re going to do our thing and run our offence,” he said.
“We’re not afraid to let our receivers try to make plays.
“But they’re a good group, a good defence. They’ve got good (defensive backs) and some experienced guys. We’ll have our hands full. But we’ve just got to go do our thing and find ways to win.”
HAMILTON TIGER-CATS (1-4) AT B.C. LIONS (3-1)
Thursday, B.C. Place
RED-HOT ROURKE: It’s been a blistering start for Lions quarterback Nathan Rourke. The 24-year-old Canadian has averaged 318 passing yards over the first six games of his CFL career and posted a 4-2 record. Just three other QBs have averaged more than 300 yards in their first six starts – Jeff Garcia (364), David Archer (323) and Dave Dickenson (311).
TURNOVER TROUBLES: Hamilton has had more turnovers than their opponent in all five games to start the season. It’s a departure for a team that lost the turnover battle in just nine of Orlando Steinauer’s first 32 games as head coach.
ROAD WOES: The Ticats are 0-2 away from Tim Hortons Field this season. Hamilton follows a trend across the CFL, with the home side holding a 14-9 record through the first six weeks of the season.