Lions rookie Awe knows his game must change

Micah Awe defended himself in the first interview he conducted Saturday after personally introducing himself to a large sampling of the Calgary Stampeders offence, to say nothing of the ire he stirred up around the CFL.

Among the first players to talk to the rookie B.C. Lions linebacker after the game was Bo Levi Mitchell.

“Ironically, after the game I had Bo and a lot of Calgary players say ‘good job; like, you’re a physical player.’ I know if I was really a dirty player no one would have come up to me. Player to player I felt like I had some respect.” Awe said.

Awe knows differently now. He still undoubtedly has some respect but he’s also aware he can’t continue to operate Friday against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats at B.C. Place Stadium as in the manner in which he did his last game.

Awe was fined one-half his game cheque by the CFL Wednesday and as a repeat offender already this season is probably fortunate to have escaped a suspension for the three monster hits he applied on Jerome Messam, Anthony Woodson and Roy Finch of the Stampeders.

The Messam and Finch hits were cited by the league in imposing the fine. In each case Awe led with his helmet, and was part of the biggest day of Lions malfeasance since Rob Murphy, Jason Jimenez and Sherko Haji-Rasouli terrorized three-down football.

On a day when he thought he had been seriously injured, Chris Rainey was fined for a separate retaliation hit. David Menard was also fined for a tourist hit, the league’s definition of hitting a defenceless opponent, on a special teams play.

Small wonder coach/GM Wally Buono stood in front of his team before practice Wednesday and said it might be a good idea to discontinue what took place lest his team would like to start a rogues gallery on a wall at league headquarters.

Nobody knows that better than Awe, who initially defended his hit on Messam, which prompted a response from the Calgary tailback labeling his blow as a cheap shot, but has heard from so many in and out of the Lions organization in the days since to realize he knows he has to change.

“It hurts. It’s not like this is nothing. That’s my whole paycheque basically. I’m not sitting here saying I feel so good about myself I’m going to do it again,” said Awe, who was also fined earlier this season for what the league deemed a reckless hit on Saskatchewan’s Duron Carter. ”I’m going to adjust. That’s going to be the hard part.

“I see what the CFL is saying, but at the same time these are decisions that aren’t going half-speed. I don’t know about car (racers) but I’m sure they have to make split second-decisions and sometimes they make the wrong decisions. That’s what I need to work on.

“Tackling doesn’t just happen. Tackling is technique and I’m going have to work on my technique. I’ll be keeping my head up and trying not to hurt anyone but at the same time I’ve got to be physical. I can’t do anything about this fine but I can do something about keeping my head up and doing it the right way.”

Surely at this point there need not be another reminder that Awe has a college degree at Texas Tech. The guy is a go-to quote even when he’s being repentant.

But if the Lions ever needed yet another reminder that their first-year weak-side linebacker seems to be carving out a career similar to how Solomon Eliminan started, it was with the blows he delivered Saturday, however illegal, even if they weren’t penalized.

It prompted Elimimian to think back to the days when he was routinely summoned before the league for the punishing hits he delivered before he changed his approach to tackling.

“Micah is going to understand the refs are looking at (him) every time. Refs watch tape because their job is to protect players. They (refs) will find you. They know who you are. You don’t get the same benefit of the doubt. He won’t for I don’t know how long. It’s just life,” Elimimian said.

“Hits like that 10 years ago probably were celebrated. Now it’s frowned upon. Football is changing whether I like it or not.”

Football changed for a 23-year-old rookie Lions linebacker Wednesday. The game against Hamilton will be the first chance to gauge his response.

LIONS TALES: The idea that Canadian David Foucault could hold down the starting right tackle spot lasted only one game, as the Lions will go back to Kelvin Palmer against Hamilton. Foucault, who began training camp working briefly at left tackle, has now lost two positions on the offensive line. It’s the sixth straight week Lions quarterbacks have lined up behind a different offensive line alignment. Newly signed Alex Bazzie will start Friday, but rookie Ken Boatright will still be part of the defensive line rotation. B.C. has used 12 defensive linemen, not counting players used exclusively on special teams, this year so far. Keynan Parker returns to the lineup for the first time since dislocating his shoulder July 21, playing a support role in the secondary ahead of Buddy Jackson.

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.