SPORTS

New head coach Jeff Tedford says tempo will be key for B.C. Lions

04/30/2015 02:48 EDT | Updated 08/08/2015 03:59 EDT
SURREY, B.C. - B.C. Lions head coach Jeff Tedford stands in the middle of the field and shouts at no one in particular to get moving.

His players rush to the line of scrimmage and get the snap off, mimicking a game situation against an invisible defence as best they can during a chilly late-April practice.

The Lions wrapped up a three-day minicamp for their offence this week and the message from the team's first-year coach about the pace he expects in practices and games was as evident as the giant digital play clock that repeatedly ticked down on the sidelines.

"We're going to be able to run all types of tempos," Tedford said after one of the sessions. "We can go very fast or we can slow it down, whatever it may be. Tempo will be a big part of what we do."

The 53-year-old was hired in December and joins the club after a successful career south of the border that included an 11-season head coaching stint in U.S. college football with the California Golden Bears.

Tedford is known for his offensive schemes, and along with co-ordinator George Cortez started to implement some of his principles during three practices ahead of the main training camp, which begins May 31 in Kamloops.

"It's always the mental part that comes first," said Tedford. "You can't play fast unless you're unconscious. If you're out there thinking too much it's like paralysis by analysis. You're just always wondering what to do and you can't play fast.

"This is their first time with it. They'll get introduced to it, they'll take it with them for a month and then we'll do it all again and they'll be more comfortable."

A former quarterback and assistant coach in the CFL, Tedford is credited with developing the skills of a number of pivots at the collegiate level, including Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers.

"He knows the quarterback position," said Lions QB Travis Lulay, who continues to rehab his injured throwing shoulder. "He played it, has coached it for a long time. I'm excited to see when he gets a defence on the other side to see how he coaches some of the nuances of playing the position.

"I don't care how long you've been in the game, you're learning stuff from people who have been around the game every single day."

Tedford — who was hired to be the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' offensive co-ordinator last season only to leave team because of health issues — said tempo will be dictated by not only the offence, but the defence as well.

"Speed the game up, get as many plays as we can, but also play to how the flow of the game is," he said. "It's very important to play a team game. It's not just an offensive game, it's a team game."

The players seem to already be buying into Tedford's style as the club looks to rebound off a disappointing 2014 season.

"He's high-energy, he's in your face, and he's really business-like and professional. I'm really impressed with him so far," said running back Andrew Harris. "The way we're doing things is a whole new way of looking at an offence and how we're going to attack. It's really high-tempo and I think it's something we're going to catch defences with in mismatches."

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