Lions coach calls Elliott 'best in league'

BC Lions head coach Mike Benevides wears a Wally Buono t-shirt during their CFL football game...

BC Lions head coach Mike Benevides wears a Wally Buono t-shirt during their CFL football game against the Saskatchewan Roughriders in Vancouver, British Columbia August 19, 2012. (Reuters/ANDY CLARK)

HOSEA CHEUNG, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:09 PM ET

VANCOUVER - Mike Benevides is pumping the tires of his opponents again.

Having trumped the Saskatchewan Roughriders as "the best team in the league" -- ahead of his own team -- during Week 3, the B.C. Lions head coach had nothing but praise for new Winnipeg Blue Bombers starting pivot Joey Elliott this time around.

"He's the best quarterback in the league in terms of how he performed last week," Benevides said ahead of the Lions match in Manitoba on Friday. "He threw the ball vertically, he's confident, he's got a very nice touch on the ball, and obviously he's been waiting his turn. Now he's got his opportunity, and a lot of times, when guys wait for that opportunity, they want to make good.

"And last week, he was outstanding and he did a heck of a job against that Hamilton team."

In his first start this season, Elliott completed 33 of 43 passes for 406 yards and a touchdown in the Blue Bombers' 32-25 win over the Tiger-Cats last Thursday. But a much-tougher test awaits the 26-year-old quarterback -- the best defence in the CFL.

The league-leading Lions have not allowed a touchdown in 13 quarters and have given up a total of 22 points in their last three games. They also lead in a majority of defensive statistical categories, including the lowest average yards of offence against per game and the most quarterback sacks.

Even so, the veteran B.C. defensive unit aren't basking in their success.

"I'm really not concerned with the streak or whatever," said cornerback Dante Marsh. "All of that will take care of itself. As soon as you start drinking the Kool-Aid, that's when the wheels start falling off. It's a marathon, not a sprint. We're just taking it one week at the time."

The Lions are also playing their second game in six nights -- and are in the midst of three games in 13 nights -- which makes for less recovery time. But it's not a concern for Benevides.

"You try to make the best of the situation," he said. "You try to take momentum, and you try to move with it. There's not a lot of time to practice, so you got to let the men rest physically and mentally."

Quarterback Travis Lulay, who threw for one touchdown and ran in another on Sunday, credits the coaches for getting the team ready through such a hectic schedule.

"Fortunately, this came right after the bye and it allowed the coaches a little bit of a chance to look ahead," Lulay said. "Just in terms of game plan in a short time frame, the coaches were ahead of the ball."


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