VANCOUVER - It's good to be Mike Benevides these days.
Ten games into his first year as head coach of the B.C. Lions, the 44-year-old has his squad sitting atop the CFL with a formidable 7-3 record, with five wins in their last six games. More impressively, he has made his Leos a force on both sides of the ball, averaging the most offensive yards per game and allowing the fewest yards against this season.
While it can be argued that Benevides was fortuitously handed the reins to the Grey Cup champions — already a team with a diverse offence and an experienced core on defence — the former defensive co-ordinator deserves credit for taking that same group of veterans, intermingled with several youngsters, and making them look even more the favourites to repeat.
Recent convincing victories speak volumes to just how much better the Lions are this season, but that doesn’t mean Benevides is at all satisfied.
“I want to see more of what we saw (Saturday against the Montreal Alouettes),” said Benevides, who succeeded general manager Wally Buono on the sidelines. “I want to see a balanced team, I want to see a dominant team. I want to see a physical, aggressive team. And I want to see a team that plays with poise and discipline. This is a long, long season and every week is a different journey and we have to prepare to improve.”
The Lions’ dominant 43-10 victory over the Alouettes during the weekend was their most “complete game” this season, added Benevides. Even without leading receiver Geroy Simon, who sat out with a hamstring injury, the offence exploded for five touchdowns — including four thrown by the 2011 Most Outstanding Player, quarterback Travis Lulay.
The defence was again their phenomenal self, limiting Als pivot Anthony Calvillo to one touchdown and 152 passing yards while keeping Montreal off the board for the final three quarters. That’s what the first-year coach wants to see every game for the rest of the campaign.
“I was proud of them because they played the way we need to play,” Benevides said. “They did what was required. I told them, enjoy this for 24 hours but we have to get ready for next week (against the Toronto Argonauts on Saturday). If we want to stay on top of the mountain, we got to prepare and play like that every week.”