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November 14, 2015

Playoffs get under way

David Moll

By Mike Hardiman
Stampeders.com

The Pregame

The Calgary Stampeders play host to the BC Lions in the CFL’s Western Semi-Final as the 2015 playoffs kick off this week.

The Stampeders are hosting the game after finishing second in the West with a 14-4 record while the Lions finished third with a 7-11 mark. Calgary has played in six semifinal games since 2005, posting a 2-4 record, but has won the last two semis at home (2009 and 2012). The Stamps are a perfect 5-0 against the Lions in West semifinal games (all played at home), with the most recent being in 2001, a 28-19 win for the Stamps.

Calgary is 8-3 all-time in playoff games against the Leos with the last game taking place in 2012 in the West final at BC, a game won 34-29 by Calgary.

Calgary swept the season series in 2015, winning 35-23 at home in Week 13 and 33-16 on the road in Week 20.

The Stamps finished tied for the league’s best home record at 8-1 and are 8-2 against the West while the Lions are 3-6 on the road and are 4-6 against West teams. 

The Kickoff

When/Where: Sunday, Nov. 15 at 2:30 p.m. MST at McMahon Stadium in Calgary
Television/Live-streaming: TSN, ESPN3, YouTube
Radio: Newstalk 770, SiriusXM Channel 167
Internet: www.newstalk770.com

The Stampeders

Calgary enters the playoffs on a bit of a roll, winners of three straight games and winning all three contests by at least 12 points.

The Stamps offence has averaged 32.3 points per game in those wins, 370.6 yards of total offence and scored 11 touchdowns while committing only two turnovers and allowing just three sacks. The Stampeders are doing a terrific job of protecting the football and playing clean, leading the CFL in fewest penalties taken (10.6 per game), fewest giveaways (32) and fewest sacks allowed (33).

The Stamps offence has scored the most touchdowns in the red zone (31) and was third in total red zone scoring and TD percentage. Slotback Eric Rogers continued to lead the way down the stretch, catching 15 passes for 264 yards in his last three games and slotback Anthony Parker had a career-high 122 receiving yards last week while wide receiver Joe West had 102 yards receiving in his last start to give the Stamps depth in the passing game.

Calgary’s offence placed five players on the West all-star team — QB Bo Levi Mitchell, RB Jerome Messam, Rogers, OG Spencer Wilson and C Pierre Lavertu.  Mitchell was named the West Division’s Most Outstanding Player.

Calgary’s defence is also on a tear of late, finishing the season second in points allowed and first in fewest touchdowns allowed. The Stamps defence allowed less than 20 points in their last four games (averaging just 14 points per game) after allowing less than 20 points three times in the previous 14 games. The Stamps defence totalled 18 interceptions in 2015, but spread the wealth around with 10 different players collecting a pick; led by defensive back Keon Raymond’s four. Twelve different Stamps registered sacks and defensive ends Freddie Bishop III and Charleston Hughes accounted for 21 of the team’s 49 sacks. Hughes and safety Josh Bell were both named to the West all-star team.

Kicker Rene Paredes capped off an impressive season with the West Division’s nod as top special teams player, an award he also won back in 2013, after finishing second in league scoring with 156 points. 

Who to watch:

Jerome Messam – RB, #33
2015 stats
– 163 carries, 1,006 rushing yards, 6.2 yard average, 2 TDs – third in CFL rushing, second career 1,000-yard rushing season; Western all-star
Last game – 13 carries, 59 rushing yards, 4.5 yard average, 0 TDs – Week 20 at BC
2015 vs BC
– 40 carries, 248 rushing yards, 6.2 yard average, 0 TDs – four games

Bo Levi Mitchell – QB, #19
2015 stats
– 555 attempts, 364 completions, 65.6% completion rate, 4,551 passing yards, 26 TDs, 13 INTs,  96.8 QB rating – career highs in passing attempts, completions, yards and TDs; West Division MOP, Western all-star
Last game –
29 attempts, 21 completions, 72.4% completion rate, 247 passing yards, 3 TDs, 0 INTs,  132.4  QB rating –  Week 19 vs Ssk.
2015 vs BC
– 34 attempts, 21 completions, 61.8% completion rate, 268 passing yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs, 106.0 QB rating – Week 13 at Calgary

Eric Rogers – SB, #80
2015 stats
– 87 receptions, 1,448 receiving yards, 65.9 % reception percentage, 16.6 yard average, 10 TDs – led CFL in receiving; Western all-star
Last game –
7 receptions, 96 receiving yards, 13.7 yard average, 2 TDs – Week 19 vs Saskatchewan
2015 vs BC
– 6 receptions, 115 receiving yards, 19.2 yard average, 0 TDs – Week 13 at Calgary

Juwan Simpson – MLB, #12
2015 stats –
27 tackles, 2 sacks, 1 INT, 2 pass knockdowns – missed six games due to injury
Last game
– 1 tackles, 2 pass knockdowns – Week 13 vs B.C. Lions, injured in Week 14 at Wpg.
2015 vs BC –
1 tackles, 2 pass knockdowns – Week 13 at Calgary 

Deron Mayo – LB, #42
2015 stats –
72 tackles, 5 special teams tackles, 1 tackle for loss, 5 sacks, 1 fumble return, 1 forced fumble – led team in tackles, career high in tackles
Last game
– 3 tackles – Week 20 at BC
2015 vs BC –
7 tackles – two games

Michah Johnson – DT, #93
2015 stats –
32 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, 6 sacks, 4 pass knockdowns, 1 fumble return,  1 forced fumble – third on team in sacks
Last game
– 3 tackles, 1 sack, 1 pass knockdown, 1 forced fumble  – Week 19 vs Ssk.
2015 vs BC –
2 tackles, 1 fumble return – Week 13 at Calgary             

The Lions  

BC will place its playoff hopes on the shoulders of rookie quarterback Jonathon Jennings (#10) who posted impressive numbers in only seven games. This will be Jennings’ first playoff start and first start against Calgary as he sat for last week’s game and came on in relief in Week 13’s loss.

Running back Andrew Harris (#33) rushed for his second career 1,000-yard season and had 171 yards and three TDs in his last three starts. Slotback Manny Arceneaux (#84) led the team in receiving and was also hot down the stretch, catching 18 passes for 178 yards in his last three games. Receivers Austin Collie (#17), Lavelle Hawkins (#7) and Shawn Gore (#85) combined for 136 receptions on the year, giving the Lions a balanced passing attack.

The Lions defence is young but has come together in the second half of the season. BC has seven starters on defence in their rookie or second year.

Veteran middle linebacker Adam Bighill (#44) was named the West’s top defensive player. Defensive end Khreem Smith (#94) and defensive back Ryan Phillips (#21) are the other relative greybeards on the Lions defence but youngsters Alex Hoffman –Ellis (#11), T.J. Lee (#6) and Mic’hael Brooks (#90) are all players to watch as well.

Calgary needs to be very aware of kick returner Chris Rainey (#28) after he racked up 333 return yards and scored twice on returns against Calgary back in Week 13. 

Jonathon Jennings – QB, #10
2015 stats
– 215 attempts, 142 completions, 66.0% completion rate, 2,004 passing yards, 15 TDs, 10 INTs, 99.8 QB rating – six starts, leads team in passing
Last game – 33 attempts, 21 completions, 63.6% completion rate, 259 passing yards, 2 TD, 2 INTs,  82.8 QB rating –  Week 19 at Tor.
2015 vs Cgy.
– 27 attempts, 15 completions, 55.6% completion rate, 252 passing yards, 0 TDs, 3 INTs – Week 13 at Calgary

Andrew Harris – RB, #33
2015 stats
– 22 carries, 1.039 rushing yards, 4.7 yards average, 7 TDs; 53 receptions, 484 receiving yards, 9.1 yard average, 79.1% reception percentage, 2 receiving TDs – led CFL in yards from scrimmage, second in CFL rushing; Western all-star
Last game –
8 carries, 42 rushing yards, 5.3 yard average, 0 TDs – Week 20 vs Cgy.
2015 vs Cgy.
– 20 carries, 100 rushing yards, 5.0 yard average, 0 TDs – two games

Adam Bighill – MLB, #44
2015 stats
– 121 tackles, 7 special teams tackles, 7 tackles for loss, 4 sacks, 1 INT, 1 fumble return – led CFL in tackles;  West Division Most Outstanding Defensive Player, Western all-star
Last game – 9 tackles – Week 19 at Tor.
2015 vs Cgy.
– 6 tackles, 1 fumble return – Week 13 at Calgary

Stats (through regular season)

OFFENCE

Cgy.

Rnk

BC

Rnk

Points per game

26.6

2nd

24.3

5th

TDs

44

1st

41

4th

First downs

355

6th

327

8th

Total yards per game

343.6

4th

313.0

8th

Pass yards per game

272.3

4th

250.2

7th

Rush yards per game

96.6

4th

81.3

8th

Sacks allowed

33

1st

34

2nd

Giveaways

32

1st

48

8th

 

 

 

 

 

DEFENCE

Cgy.

Rnk

BC

Rnk

Points allowed per game

19.2

2nd

27.0

6th

TDs allowed

26

1st

41

5th

Total yards per game

302.5

2nd

361.1

7th

Pass yards per game

246.6

2nd

264.3

5th

Rush yards per game

77.8

3rd

116.2

8th

Sacks

49

4th

48

5th

Takeaways

40

4th

39

5th

Semi-Final Week in the CFL

Sunday, Nov. 15, 11 a.m. — Toronto at Hamilton