Bombers OC Paul LaPolice regrets short-yardage calls in loss to Lions

Paul LaPolice had something important to say to Andrew Harris.

After a practice this week, the Blue Bombers offensive co-ordinator told reporters about a conversation he had with the star running back after last Saturday’s 20-17 loss to the B.C. Lions.

“At the three-yard line, I should have gotten you one of those two touches,”’ LaPolice said of his words to Harris.

The Bombers were up 17-0 in the third quarter and it was second down from the three-yard line. Backup quarterback Chris Streveler kept the ball twice and was denied, leading to a turnover on downs.

Winnipeg also faced another key short-yardage situation with eight minutes to go in the fourth and a 17-10 lead.

On third and one, Streveler unsuccessfully ran around the edge, rather than going straight ahead.

That was a different scenario, LaPolice said.

“I don’t think many people in the Canadian Football League, on third and one, hand the ball to the tailback,” he said.

Harris finished the game with 13 carries for 139 yards and two touchdowns.

“He’s like, ‘No problem coach, no problem,”’ LaPolice said of Harris’ response to his misjudgement.

“Andrew touches the ball more than anybody else on any CFL team, so we understand how to give him the ball. Sometimes he won’t always get the ball, but that’s how it rolls.”

Harris leads the league with 68 carries for 449 yards in five games.

Fans have been pointing fingers at the reasons for Winnipeg’s second-half collapse.

“I do kick myself that one of those two calls at the goal-line should’ve been giving Andrew the opportunity, so I could have done a better job there,” LaPolice said.

There were also questions about why the team didn’t attempt field goals in those third-down situations to pad its lead.

“(LaPolice) knows that when it’s third and short, I want to go,” head coach Mike O’Shea said.

He had no problem with LaPolice’s play calling.

“We’ve got a lot of confidence in our short-yardage package and I don’t want (LaPolice) to second guess any calls that he’s making,” O’Shea said.

The Bombers (2-3) travel to Toronto for a Saturday afternoon tilt against the Argonauts (1-3).

Winnipeg quarterback Matt Nichols doesn’t want to repeat his performance against the Lions. He was 17-of-28 passing for 242 yards, but threw three interceptions.

Quarterbacks coach Buck Pierce helped him get it over.

“It was one of the harder ones to flush, but after we watched the film we kind of have our grade sheets and everything and Buck took mine from me, ripped it up and said, ‘This is over with,”’ Nichols said.

“From that moment, we both were done with it and moved on to this one (against Toronto). You have no time to feel sorry for yourself in this business. Professional football is a complete roller coaster. You can never get too high or too low.”

Winnipeg’s defence also took some costly penalties against B.C. in the second half that kept the home team’s drives alive. Two were for roughing the passer and one for a horse-collar tackle.

“Any time you let up, every team has an opportunity to come back and win,” defensive co-ordinator Richie Hall said. “It has nothing to do with them coming back?

“We’ve got to continue to work to get that killer instinct. When you’ve got a team down, you go for the jugular vein and you put them out of their misery.”

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