Jermaine Copeland on Nik Lewis vs. Chad Owens
By MIKE GANTER, QMI Agency
|Best friends Jeremaine Copeland of the Argonauts and Nik Lewis of the Stampeders share a moment before a CFL game at McMahon Stadium in Calgary, Alta., July 1, 2010. (AL CHAREST/QMI Agency)
TORONTO - You can make the argument that Jeremaine Copeland has played with, against and for more members of Sunday's Grey Cup than just about anyone still associated with the CFL.
As the receivers coach with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats this past season, Copeland even got acquainted, either through film or directly in conversation, with many of those who he didn't previously know.
All of which is a roundabout way of pointing out that Copeland knows these two teams very, very well.
And fortunately for our readers, he's more than willing to share some of his insights into the teams.
Not surprisingly, Copeland, given the choice, selects the receiver/defensive back he is most intersted in watching, although he does touch on a few other battles.
"Tthe best thing about this game that I'm going to keep my eye on is the Nik Lewis and (Brandon) Isaac matchup because they played together," Copeland said. "They have been on the same team so there's going to be a lot of trash talking going on between these two guys. Isaac is a major trash talker and Nik knows it. Nik wants to get at him anyway."
Copelands feels secure in predicting that will be the matchup because he knows Argos defensive coordinator Chris Jones loves to match up his cover guys with the opposing receivers and based on what he has seen he expects rookie Ahmad Carroll drawing Maurice Price, leaving Lewis for Isaac.
"Carroll's on Price since he is the one heating everything up the past couple of weeks," Copeland said. "With Carroll, who I think is one of the top DBs coming into this league as a youngster, I definitely think that will be another to keep your eyes on because Carroll could easily keep him to one catch."
But Copeland's point is that with Carroll on Price, it's a very good bet that Isaac will be on Lewis.
Copeland expects Lewis to be extremely motivated this weekend in light of his game in the Western final, which he barely impacted at all.
"I know he was not a factor in the Western championship and I definitely know he is going to come out ready to play this week for sure," Copeland said.
Copeland, though, doesn't see a repeat of that performance in the offing for Lewis, as unique a receiver as the CFL has to offer.
"Nik's not really fast," Copeland said. "He's not like the average receiver. He really doesn't have speed. Yeah, he has OK strides but Nik is never really fast. But if you're in a run play, Nik will bulldoze you. He will run you over. He will come downhill with the same waggle that he uses on his releases and he'll run right through you. Now the DB is on his toes. He's going to have to back up and now when the DB tries to jam you, with Nik being so big and having so much weight, the jam just winds up knocking Nik into his route. That's why Nik is always wide open."
Copeland's advice is don't even try to get physical with the Stamps' leading receiver. At least not until the ball is either on its way or in his hands.
"You can't put your hands on Nik because that's what he wants you to do," he said. "He's so much bigger and stronger than any DB out there that the DB winds up throwing him into his route anyway and if he's catching the ball on all cylinders you're in trouble."
Not that Isaac needs any advice, but Copeland says the best strategy with Lewis is to let him initiate the contact, absorb it, drop back and then cut underneath him when he makes his break.
Copeland, though, expects Isaac won't be the only one keeping an eye on Lewis. He'll be getting some help, but more about that later.
As for the Argos and the reigning Most Outstanding Player Chad Owens, Copeland can't say for sure who will be on him because it is not Calgary's style to match up on defence. If that's the case, Owens could see a variety of defenders.
"If they do decide to match up, which I don't think they will, and wanted someone on him they would put Keon Raymond on Owens," Copeland said. "He's the only person on that whole defence that I think would have a chance to take Chad out of a game. To me Keon is playing the best football I have ever seen him play. He has become a vet in this league, he understands how to play and he's already got great hands anyway. This is the best season I've seen him have since he's been in the CFL."
The route Copeland says the Argos have to fear and be ready for is one he called the Ottawa pump.
In the play, Lewis lines up four yards deep, builds up his momentum and hits the line in full stride. The Stamps will normally run this play on second and eight and it's run off the 10-yard out he spends a good part of the game running only this time he'll make his break at 10 yards and then turn back up to the middle of the field.
"He surprises people by running an out and up which means he's breaking out, and once you break underneath it he's coming back to the middle of the field," Copeland said. "He has caught a couple of touchdowns on it and plenty of first downs on it already this year."
The key for the Argos in defending it is that when Isaac bites on the out he have help over the top in safety Jordan Younger, who Copeland expects to be playing a shallow midfield for exactly this purpose.
The Stamps' key defensively is obvious, Copeland says.
"Taking Chad out will be a huge factor and I'm sure Huff (head coach John Hufnagel) is saying the same thing," Copeland said.
Nik Lewis vs. Chad Owens
Age: 30, 30
Height/weight: 5-10/240 lbs., 5-8/180 lbs.
Receptions: 100, 94
Yards: 1241, 1328
Avg: 12.4, 14.1
TD: 10, 6