PREVIEW: LIONS clash with RedBlacks in the Nation’s Capital

OTTAWA — Week 4 action will continue this Saturday night with the BC Lions travelling to TD Place to take on the Ottawa REDBLACKS.

 

Through two games so far into this young season, the story of the 2021 Ottawa REDBLACKS has been the performance of their defence.

 

After holding the Edmonton Elks to just 110 rushing yards and hauling in three interceptions, highlighted by the impressive performance of Abdul Kanneh, who had two of those picks, the team followed it up again against the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

 

Saskatchewan scored 23 points against Ottawa in Week 2, the most the undefeated Riders have been able to tally so far, but it did not reflect the challenge Ottawa’s defence imposed. One of the reasons why Ottawa was able to make things difficult for Saskatchewan was their ability to end drives, only allowing one scoring drive in 29 possessions.

 

While the REDBLACKS offence has yet to find peak efficiency so far this season, there have been areas of success, primarily their ability to keep teams guessing while they’re on offence.

 

After being held touchdown-less against the Elks, the REDBLACKS rushing attack found the end zone against a very formidable Roughriders defence with DeVonte Dedmon.

 

Of the REDBLACKS players’ ability to generate a big play, R.J. Harris was the sparkplug the REDBLACKS’ offence needed last week. Recording over 100 receiving yards on the night and hauling in an incredible catch, the Matt Nichols-R.J. Harris connection will pose a threat to the BC secondary. This is something Lions’ head coach, Rick Campbell has his eye on ahead of Saturday.

 

“We’ll game plan, but the focus really has to be on us and making sure we got all our ducks in a row, so to speak,” said Campbell.

 

BC’s defence has also made a name for themselves in their own right as in three games so far this season, the Lions have recorded an interception or more in every one of them. Sitting atop the CFL in takeaways with six on the campaign, including four alone against the Calgary Stampeders, BC’s ball-hawkers have come to play.

 

Saturday will also see Rick Campbell return to his old Ottawa stomping ground; the team his head coaching career started with.

 

“I think it won’t be a big deal,” said Campbell on the 1st and Now BC Lions podcast. “That was a big part of my life. That was my first time ever being a head coach, so I appreciate all that. I’m sure it’ll be an emotional thing when it happens, but honestly, I’m kind of on a one-track mind right now just finding a way to win a game.”

 

Campbell joined the REDBLACKS coaching staff as the first head coach in franchise history during the 2014 inaugural season. Prior to filling that role, Campbell spent time with Edmonton, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and Calgary Stampeders. Having spent five years in the nation’s capital, Campbell is very familiar with the team’s touchdown tradition. With that in mind, it is something he wants to minimize this week.

 

“We’ll keep that touchdown chainsaw quiet this week,” said Campbell.

 

On the offensive side of the ball, Campbell is looking forward to what he believes will be a solid performance from his playmakers. Having been two types of games: a nail-biter and a shootout, Campbell knows his offence, led by Michael Reilly and the CFL’s leading receiver Lucky Whitehead, can run with any defence in the league.

 

“I think we have a lot of weapons, I think we’ve moved the ball really well at times, we haven’t cashed in on touchdowns as much as we’d like,” said Campbell. “We always want to be able to run the ball effectively that’s an important part of it.”

 

You can catch kickoff on Saturday night at 7:00 p.m. ET on TSN and ESPN+. You can also follow along with all the action on CFL.ca’s Game Tracker.