SPORTS

B.C. Lions eager to push the pace under new head coach Jeff Tedford in 2015

06/24/2015 12:40 EDT | Updated 06/24/2016 05:59 EDT
VANCOUVER - Tempo and speed have been buzz words around the B.C. Lions since Jeff Tedford was hired as the team's head coach.

The only problem is someone forgot tell the CFL schedule makers.

Among of the quirks in an unbalanced nine-team league is that one has to sit out each week. The Lions drew the short straw this time around and will start the 2015 season in neutral with a bye before finally hitting the field on July 4 in Ottawa against the Redblacks.

Nearly a month of intense training camp battles in front of a new boss followed by this sort of lull is something players aren't used to, but are embracing, at least on the outside.

"It's going to be a little bit weird because we're amped up, right?" said quarterback Travis Lulay. "The whole thing ramps up to the regular season and now we have to sit for a week. The positive spin is we've got a few little nicks with some guys that are going to get a chance to be healthier and ready to play."

A coach who runs his practices with military-like precision, Tedford also said the time off will work to the Lions' benefit.

"We will utilize the off-week well," he said. "We have a lot of work to do and the team knows it."

The break will also give Lulay, who is coming off two seasons marred by injuries to his throwing shoulder, and running back Andrew Harris (ankle surgery) a little extra time recover from camp and get even more comfortable in Tedford's new offence. Both played the first half of B.C.'s 18-3 exhibition loss to the Saskatchewan Roughriders on Friday and declared themselves ready for when the games matter.

Lulay and Harris are key components in the fast-paced style that Tedford, the former head coach of the NCAA's California Golden Bears, is trying to bring to the CFL. The Lions want to keep defences off balance with no-huddle packages — new substitution rules should help with that — and were encouraged by their opening series in that pre-season loss to Saskatchewan.

"We were running play after play after play and by the time we got down there and scored that touchdown they were huffing and puffing," said Harris. "We want to catch teams in those kinds of situations where we're dictating what's going on."

Tedford, who replaced the fired Mike Benevides after the Lions followed up a 9-9 regular season in 2014 with an embarrassing 50-17 playoff loss to the Montreal Alouettes, has brought in offensive co-ordinator George Cortez as his No. 2, the third man to hold the position in as many years.

"It's different and you're dealing with a different personality, a different mind and a different play-calling style," said Harris. "There's a lot of things that factor in, but at the end of the day it's all football.

"It just comes down to understanding each other and trusting each other as far as the coach and the player."

One player who won't be around for the first time in a long time is veteran kicker Paul McCallum, who was cut five days into camp. Richie Leone won the job over fellow American Anthony Fera and will handle both kicking and punting duties, something McCallum was unable to provide.

On offence, the Lions added former NFL receivers Austin Collie, who counts as a Canadian because he was born in Hamilton, and Cameron Morrah, while the defence will again be led by linebackers Solomon Elimimian — the league's most outstanding player last season — and Adam Bighill.

That defence kept the Lions alive in many games last season and Lulay knows the offence will need to be better if there's going to be a turnaround in 2015.

But first, they will all have to sit and wait.

"We'll take a little bit of a breather right now, because this is when you're going to get it," said Lulay. "It's a long season. We'll watch the games. The new guys to the CFL can kind of get a feel for the regular season with the games on television and whatnot and go from there."

---

Follow @JClipperton_CP on Twitter

MORE:cpSports