Players study films and coaches point out tendencies. Nobody likes surprises.
That's why the B.C. Lions were very cautious when talking about what to expect from Steven Jyles when he starts at quarterback for the Toronto Argonauts in Saturday's CFL game.
Jyles will be a bit of an unknown when he leads the Argos onto Empire Field. He missed the first nine games of the season with a shoulder injury, but was given the starter's job when Cleo Lemon was released earlier in the week.
"There is an element of surprise," B.C. defensive end Brent Johnson said Friday after the Lions practised at their training facility.
"It's hard to prepare for something you haven't seen in a while and you don't know what he's thinking. He's a guy that probably wants to come in and make an impact."
Bruising linebacker Solomon Elimimian said Jyles might act like a triple espresso to an Argonaut offence that snoozed through a 29-16 loss to the Lions last week.
"Maybe it gives the team a little bit more confidence," said Elimimian, who leads the CFL with 59 tackles.
"He has a good arm. He's very smart and knows where he wants to go with the ball. He uses his feet and that's something we haven't had to watch out for.''
For his part, Jyles is excited about the chance to help an Argonaut team that has gone 2-7 so far this season.
"I just want to bring some energy, come out and lead my team,'' he said. "I just want to be productive and put up some touchdowns.''
Toronto obtained Jyles, a six-year CFL veteran, in a trade from the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. In 16 games last year for the Bombers, Jyles threw for over 2,800 yards, 19 touchdowns and seven interceptions. He also rushed for 452 yards and four touchdowns on 65 carries.
Running back Cory Boyd likes the energy Jyles has brought to practice this week.
"He brings a lot of inspiration to a team,'' said Boyd, who has rushed for 308 yards and four touchdowns on 63 carries this season. "He gives a lot of his players hope. He has been spiritually positive.
"We're not asking him to be Superman. Just manage the game, something he is known for doing, and make plays with his feet, something this offence hasn't seen a quarterback do for some time.''
Toronto has scored 200 points this season, the second least in the CFL.
After a slow start the Lions (3-6) have won three of their last four games and begin the weekend third in the CFL West. The B.C. defence hasn't allowed a touchdown in two matches.
"I honestly think our focus really doesn't matter on allowing touchdowns," said Johnson. "It's more we want to win games.
"Right now we are focusing on getting to .500 and getting some more wins. We know touchdowns are going to happen."
Jyles thinks there are holes to be found in the Lions defence.
"I have a lot of respect for those guys," he said. "The bottom line is, on offence we know what we are doing. They (B.C.) have to react.
"All we can do is come out and take care of our responsibilities and try and get some touchdowns on those guys."
The Argonauts not only lost last week, they looked terrible doing it. Lemon was pulled after throwing for just 57 yards in the first half. Backup Dalton Bell tossed four interceptions in the second half.
It's a memory the Argos want to erase.
"I think that was one of the worst offensive outings that I have experienced,'' said Boyd. "It wasn't anything that B.C. did.
"We knew exactly what they were going to do. It wasn't like they threw any wrinkles in there. We are looking forward to going out there and playing our style of football. Play mistake-free football and try and keep the ball in our hands.''
One player the Lions know a lot about is kick returner Chad Owens. He had 245 return yards against B.C. last week, including a 91-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.
Wally Buono, the Lions coach and general manager, said his special teams must be better.
"Last week I thought our effort was lacking and we paid the price for it," said Buono. "The fortunate thing is it didn't cost us a win.
"The players have a responsibly to play a lot harder than they did."
The game will be the Lions' last at Empire Field, a 27,500-seat temporary facility the team has used for the last 15 months while B.C. Place Stadium underwent US$565 million in renovations.
The Lions have a 4-9 regular record at Empire Field, and many of the players won't be sad to leave the facility.
"I have good memories of the crowd and the intimate setting,'' said Johnson. "I'm not going to cry too much.
"It's going to be nice to get back to a legit locker room and play back at home."