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Columbus Lions coach Jason Gibson promises changes on defense

The Professional Indoor Football League is off this week, and Columbus Lions coach Jason Gibson gave his team the week off as well following a 74-64 loss May 19 to the Richmond Raiders.

However, some of the Lions -- particularly those on defense -- might not have an enjoyable Memorial Day weekend, because Gibson said changes are coming when the Lions resume practice Tuesday.

"We're close," said Gibson, whose team next plays June 2 at the Louisiana Swashbucklers. "But we're going to be making some moves on the defensive side of the ball, and we have to do it to get us to where we need to be. We're not scoring any defensive touchdowns at all. If we could get a few more stops and some points out of our defense, we could be deadly. There definitely will be some changes coming."

Against Richmond, the Lions led 23-22 with 8:38 to go before halftime after a 30-yard touchdown pass from Randy Hippeard to Maurice Dupree, but three straight turnovers led to 29 straight points for the Raiders and a 51-23 lead early in the fourth quarter. Columbus scored six touchdowns in the final 13:21 to try to make a miraculous comeback, but Richmond scored just enough to stay ahead of the Lions.

"In some aspects, it was one of our worst games of the season," Gibson said. "But we did have some good moments. Turnovers on offense are what killed us. We had one sequence where we fumbled the ball in their end zone and it was called a fumble, and then they went down the field and had a fumble in the end zone and it was called a touchdown. That's a 14-point swing right there. As long as Richmond can play at home, they're a really tough team. Get them on the road, and they're vulnerable, Richmond is a really tough place to play."

The loss dropped the Lions to 5-4, two games behind Richmond (7-2) for second place and three behind the

league-leading Albany Panthers (8-1). Columbus is still one game ahead of Louisiana (4-5), which has the fourth and final playoff spot and three ahead of the fifth-place Alabama Hammers (2-7).

With just three games left in the regular season, Gibson knows his team's chances of getting a home game in the opening round of the playoffs are remote at best, so he is aiming to have the Lions playing their best football when the time is right.

"If we'd beaten Richmond, we'd still have had a chance to get a home game, but now it's just a matter of whether we're going to be a No. 3 (seed) or a No. 4," Gibson said. "Barring a miracle, I think we're in the playoffs. Just because we're in, though, doesn't mean these last three games are going to be easy. We want to win these games, and, now that we're in, we're wanting to build our roster the right way and get ready for the playoffs."

Gibson noted the Los Angeles Kings, who started the National Hockey League playoffs as a No. 8 seed and now have advanced to the Stanley Cup finals, as a good example of a team that has gotten hot at just the right time.

"Take a look at the L.A. Kings," Gibson said. "It doesn't really matter what you do in the regular season as long as you make the playoffs. We've pretty much made the playoffs. Now, we just have to work on getting ready for the playoffs."