The teams have taken different routes to putting points on the board, with the Lions going over their opponents while the Alouettes just go through them

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Over or under? Bettors in Saturday’s B.C. Lions-Montreal Alouettes game are probably best served taking the over in the clash between two of the Canadian Football League’s highest-scoring offences.

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But the two teams took different routes to their scoreboard output. The pass-happy Lions (25.8 points a game) go over their opponents, and the Alouettes (28.3), well, they don’t go under — they just go through.

Montreal averages a CFL-high 141 rush yards per game; running back William Stanback is second in rushing yards at 346 yards per game, while quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. has 157 — 10 more yards than B.C.’s starting tailback Shaq Cooper, and on two fewer attempts.

B.C. gets its yardage in big chunks. Despite having the second fewest pass attempts, the Lions have more pass yards per game (297.4) than anyone else thanks to Michael Reilly and his league-leading QB efficiency. The Leos’ averages of 9.5 yards per pass, seven yards per play and 7.8 yards per first down play are all the highest in the league.

“There’s a lot that can go into that,” Lions offensive co-ordinator Jordan Maksymic said of the stats.

“Defensively and special-teams wise, they’ve done a good job of setting us up with short fields, so we haven’t had to put together 70-, 80-, 90-yard drives to get field goals or to get touchdowns.

“We’ve been able to put some points up on the board, but the numbers don’t necessarily reflect it as far (number of plays from scrimmage).

“At the same time, we know we got to do a better job of sustaining some drives and limiting the two and outs and stuff like that.”

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Maksymic wasn’t taking the bait — or the bet — when asked about the over/under this weekend, especially when going up against a Barron Miles defence. The former B.C. Lions player and coach spent four years with Edmonton, his office right across the hall from Maksymic’s.

“A shootout? Yeah, I don’t know about that,” he said. “We respect the heck out of who they are defensively. They have good personnel over there. Up front, their front seven is definitely formidable,  and they’re really good on the back end. They’ve got some veteran guys that, personally I’ve been around and gone against in practice for a number of years, like Tyquwan Glass and ‘Money’ (Monshadrik) Hunter. We definitely know what they’re capable of defensively … and we know it’s gonna be tough sledding, but we think that if we go out there and execute, then we should be able to put some points up on the board.”

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Juicing up the Lions’ run game would go a long way to that end. The Als have 13 sacks on the year, second most in the CFL, and scored more points (41) off turnovers than any other team.

Adding in an offensive balance is something the Lions are working on. Their 71.4 rushing yards and 77 rush attempts per game are better only than Ottawa and Hamilton, respectively.

Cooper, who missed the first two games of the season to injury, was limited in practice this week. James Butler has been taking the bulk of first-team reps in his stead.

The Lions have yet to crack the 100-yard barrier as a team, let alone have a player make it into triple digits, and Reilly has B.C.’s three rushing touchdowns — all on quarterback sneaks. Butler’s four-yard touchdown catch from Reilly in the season opener against Saskatchewan is the only major scored by a running back this year.

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NEXT GAME

B.C. Lions (3-2) at Montreal Alouettes (2-2)

Saturday, 4 p.m. PT, Percival Molson Memorial Stadium.

TV: TSN. Radio: AM 730.


“I feel like, with such a pass-heavy offence … it’s working. If it’s not broke, don’t fix it,” said Butler. “But I definitely feel like us being such a pass-heavy team, teams are gonna have to key on that. There are going to be lighter boxes and that’s only going to open up the run.”

“We’ve just got to keep plugging away on that. It’s something that definitely we’re cognizant of,” added Maksymic. “I think we put together really good plans every single week as far as the run game goes, and for one reason or another it just hasn’t gone (well). We’ve done some deep dives on it … to try and get to the bottom of things, and there’s no one overwhelming cause. It’s just one here, one guy there.

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“We’ve got to go 12 for 12 as far as guys executing their assignments. But we’re not stressed over it or anything like that. We’re going to keep putting together a plan and keep trusting that we’ll have that breakthrough game.”

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