Andrew Harris wants to become a dictator.
Coming off a stunning loss to the Montreal Alouettes last week, the B.C. Lions running back said after Monday’s practice that his team needs to impose its will on opponents to be successful.
Harris also rejected the suggestion, which has been aired numerous times since Thursday’s last-second setback, that the Lions offence is too predictable.
“If you have confidence and everyone’s on the same page, even if (your opponents) know what you’re doing, you’re still going to be successful,” he said. “That’s just the attitude that we need to have and the attitude that we have now. And, it’s going to change and we’re adapting to it. We’re making those changes and (simplifying) things down.
“So no matter what they’re doing to us, we should have an answer for it and just be better than them on that given play. ... You’ve got to be a dictator in that situation.”
Harris said the Lions need to take that approach when they host the Hamilton Tiger-Cats (4-4) on Friday. He also wants to make more of an impact after playing primarily a blocking role against a blitz-happy Montreal defence that sacked quarterback Travis Lulay five times while pressuring him constantly.
Harris rushed for a season-low 19 yards on just eight carries against Montreal and hopes to be more involved.
“I’m just looking to make an impact,” he said. “It has nothing to do with if I get the ball or not. ... It just depends how the game goes.
“Obviously, as a competitor, you want to get the ball in your hands and make plays. That’s definitely something I want to do. But no matter the impact or the role I have to play in any particular game, you’ve just got to go back there and do your job.”
The 19-yard output came after he rushed for just 20 in a season-opening loss to Calgary. Meanwhile, Lulay has yet to throw for 300 yards in a game, and a young receiving corps has not lived up to some lofty expectations after general manager Wally Buono unloaded veterans Geroy Simon (traded to Saskatchewan) and Arland Bruce (released and signed by Montreal.)
The offensive line, riddled with injuries as it was last season, has also struggled to find cohesion.
But Harris said critics of the B.C. offence do not realize how close it is to achieving more success.
“It’s easy for people to criticize us,” he said. “They’re not on the field. They don’t understand what’s going on behind closed doors and the work we put in. The thing about us is, we’re working hard and it’s just little things that are making a difference between winning and losing games.
“But we are 5-3. We are busting our butts every day, and we’re continuing and we’re looking to attack more now as an offence.”
He chalked up his lack of attacking activity to Montreal’s heavy blitzes and his additional blocking duties.
“I had to pass-protect 19 or 18 plays in that game, and that’s unheard of,” said Harris.
Lulay said the Lions hope to get the ball more often to Harris early against Hamilton while agreeing with the tailback’s contention that B.C. needs to dictate more of the offensive flow.
“When you’re playing too much on the up-front, you have to find a way to answer a bit better, or plant some of that stuff down and, maybe, put a little bit of fear into their defence,” said Lulay. “That’s why we came up a bit short (against Montreal), I think. It was just not being able to have an answer early in that football game.”
Chances are the Lions will throw in a few different offensive wrinkles against the Tiger-Cats, who beat Winnipeg last weekend. Lulay said he will look to utilize Harris earlier in the game and work more screens.
Harris and Lulay are not worried about becoming locked into a B.C. offensive system.
Both noted that offensive co-ordinator Jacques Chapdelaine and head coach Mike Benevides welcome suggestions from players.
“I definitely want input,” said Benevides. “I think input matters in anything.”
If it were up to Harris, he would curb the extra criticism that Lulay has faced.
“He gets paid the big bucks, and he’s the face of the team, so that’s what happens,” said Harris. “But it’s a team effort. I see Travis. I know how hard he works. He’s the first guy here (at practice), the last guy to leave, and I know how much the game means to him and how much this team means to him.”
Lulay’s abilities to handle an increased leadership role and excel on the field at the same time have also come into question following Simon and Bruce’s departures. But Harris said the Lions’ offensive struggles are not about the system or the personnel.
“It’s just a matter of coming together and being a team — and attacking,” he said.
It will also be about defending after the Lions allowed the Als to connect on a 57-yard pass that set up their game-winning field goal. If everyone makes one more play successfully defensive back Korey Banks said B.C. will be fine.
He said, who said the onus is on the players to excel rather than anything the coaches might do system-wise, also defended the team’s offence. With Simon and Bruce gone, the offensive unit just needs time to “grow.”
“They’re gonna find a way,” said Banks. “That’s the bottom line.”
Notes: Banks sat out practice after suffering a charley horse in Montreal, but said he will play against Hamilton. ... Offensive lineman Jovan Olafioye (back) also rested and also said he will play. Linebacker Anton McKenzie was absent while getting a sore hand examined by a doctor, but Benevides also expects him to be available.