Upon review, CFL technology working for Lions

Travis Lulay’s young kids won’t get much opposition if they want more iPad time in the future because what their dad did with a tablet at work during the B.C. Lions’ last game played was a direct result in a victory.

Advancements in recent tablet technology as it pertains to the CFL have been well documented but never was it more evident than at a pivotal moment of the Lions’ 23-16 road win over the Montreal Alouettes.

Quarterback Jon Jennings had just thrown a deflected interception in the third quarter of a defensive struggle that would have resulted in great field position for the Als without Lulay’s nimble fingers.

Lulay suspected Als defender Kyries Hebert impeded the progress of Lions receiver Nick Moore and sprinted from his spot on the sidelines to the bench. He located the replay on a tablet and showed it to Lions coach Wally Buono, who threw a challenge flag that successfully overturned the play on review.

B.C. continued the offensive series, which resulted in a field goal, instead of potential points for Montreal. The entire process on the Lions sideline, Lulay estimated, took in the order of 10 seconds.

CFL teams were allowed iPads on the sidelines starting last year, but though it is not consistent in every league venue the download speed has increased so dramatically it is effecting the outcome of three-down contests.

“It’s changed the game,” said Lulay, the Lions backup quarterback. “When the wifi is good it’s now uploading in less than 20 seconds. When we lost to Edmonton (June 24) on the big pass they hit (Mike Reilly to Brandon Zylstra) I pulled (the replay) up before the next play. That was the first time it was up that quick.”

Fans at B.C. Place Stadium have the second-largest video replay screen in creation to watch replays but teams don’t rely on network television feeds but video streamed to a server, which results in inconsistency.

“Montreal hardly shows any highlights. When you’re on the road you hardly see anything,” Buono said. “The tablet has leveled the playing field. It’s a case of using technology to make your product better.”

If the iPad is welcomed at Lulay’s house it’s clear the technology being tested by the Lions this week would really receive a reaction. All week during practice sessions the club worked alongside cameras that provide a 360-degree view, with players testing virtual reality glasses. Similarly, the Lions also experimented with a drone at training camp in Kamloops, in the hope that their players would one day be allowed to get a better look at their world around them.

“It’s one thing for a quarterback to see a play on film; it’s another to see it from a quarterback’s eyes,” said Lulay. “It would shock people to know how much we don’t see.”

He saw enough to help his team stay close enough to help provide a win last time out.

LIONS TALES: With the idea he might save some salary in order to add a player or two from upcoming NFL training camp cuts, Buono this week released veteran free agent kicker Swayze Waters without so much as seeing him in a regular season game. Rookie import Ty Long won the confidence of the Lions through three games and camp and will handle kicking chores again Saturday when the team tries for its third straight win in the East Division against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. Long and former Lions kicker Richie Leone were high school teammates in Roswell, Ga. “I’m a different kicker than most people,” said Long, who handled field goals while Leone, now with the Arizona Cardinals, did punting. “I try to do what suits me and do what I do well.”… DeQuin Evans, who has been partly responsible for the upturn in defensive line pressure this year, hurt his shoulder against Montreal. He’s expected to be replaced in Hamilton by second-year import Andrew Hudson.

Lowell Ullrich has covered the Lions since 1999 and was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 2014. He is also a contributor to TSN1040.