CFL Playoffs: Can the Stampeders Get Past the Lions Without Tate?

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CFL Playoffs: Can the Stampeders Get Past the Lions Without Tate?
(Photo: Darren Dyck, Stampeders.com)

After a dramatic late-game victory over the Saskatchewan Roughriders, the Calgary Stampeders are now setting their sights on the BC Lions in the Western Final.

But do they have enough to put the Lions away in Vancouver?

Judging by the regular season, it doesn't look good.

Calgary lost two out of three against BC and the Lions' stifling defense held the Stampeders to just 71 points in those games combined, an average of 23.7 per game.

When you consider that the Stamps had the second-best offense in the CFL this year and averaged just a hair under 30 points per game on the season, the fact that BC was able to do such a good job of containing them is a bad sign.

On top of that, the Lion's held running back John Cornish in check on the ground in all three games, including a dismal minus-one yard in their first meeting.

Cornish, who led the CFL in rushing yards with 1,457, was only able to make his per-game average in their last meeting, the one time Calgary beat BC. 

Add to it the fact that quarterback Drew Tate, fresh off his big comeback from an early-season shoulder injury, broke his forearm late in last weekend's tilt.

But wait, there's more.

Stampeders head coach John Hufnagel announced on Friday that All-Star middle linebacker Juwan Simpson is doubtful for Sunday with a foot injury.

(Photo: David Moll, Stampeders.com)

None of this is good news, obviously.

There are two glimmers of hope, however.

The first is last game's result. Calgary earned a convincing 41-21 victory while the Stampeder defense forced three fumbles out of BC backup QB Mike Reilly.

The second is that Calgary's No. 2 quarterback option, Kevin Glenn, has done a fine job running the Stampeders' offense in Tate's absence. Glenn passed for a solid 4,220 yards this season, putting up numbers that were very similar to Lions' No. 1 QB Travis Lulay.

Speaking of Lulay, he will be in the starting lineup for BC on Sunday after missing most of the last three games with a shoulder injury. Although he only threw a handful of passes in the Lions' final game of the regular season, he's apparently good to go and feeling rested and healthy.

The biggest difference between Glenn and Lulay was that Glenn threw six more interceptions, and that could be a concern. Glenn will have to make fewer mistakes if the Stamps are to have a chance.

Calgary also has to figure out a way for Cornish to have an impact on the game. If he can rush for 80 yards or better and keep BC's offense keyed on the run, the Lions will have trouble containing Calgary's many weapons.

On the other side of the ball, Calgary's defense will have to step up and contain Lulay. A big part of that will be rookie Deron Mayo filling Simpson's shoes and sealing up the middle of the field.

If they can do those things, the Stampeders have a puncher's chance of making it to the Grey Cup 100. 

If not, they'll be watching the Grey Cup from the stands.

 

Follow me on Twitter @calgaryjimbo.

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