Toronto Argonauts (9 - 9) at Hamilton Tiger-Cats (9 - 9)

Sunday, November 14 - 1pm et/10am pt on TSN and


Go to the Western Semi-Final Match-up Page

Argonauts Team Page/Statistics | Roster Tiger-Cats Team Page/Statistics | Roster

Season Series

8 Aug 20 Hamilton 16 at Toronto 12 Recap | Boxscore | VOD
10 Sep 6 Toronto 13 at Hamilton 28 Recap | Boxscore | VOD
16 Oct 15 Hamilton 30 at Toronto 3 Recap | Boxscore | VOD

When the Tiger-Cats have the ball

Passing Game: Kevin Glenn has experienced a renaissance this season with arguably the best season of his career. He was voted the most underrated player in a TSN poll of CFL players but the Argonauts know exactly what he is capable of. In three games against Toronto, Glenn averaged more than 250 yards passing and one touchdown. He finished the season with 5,102 yards and 33 majors.

Running Game: After a solid rookie campaign last year, DeAndra' Cobb established himself with an even better season this year. The yardage (1,173) is almost identical with more touchdowns (8) and fewer fumbles (4). Despite Cobb leading the league in rushing attempts with 227, as a team, the Tiger-Cats ranked last in that category (300) as well as average yards per game (95.1). Against the Argos, Cobb scored a touchdown in each of the three games this season.

Receiving Game: Few teams can boast the arsenal of the Tiger-Cats. Arland Bruce recorded his sixth 1,000-yard season. Outstanding Canadian nominee Dave Stala has enjoyed his best season as a pro and become a favourite target of Glenn, especially in 2nd downs situations. Marquay McDaniel, who was injured in the season finale, excelled in his second season in Steeltown with 994 yards and seven touchdowns. And Maurice Mann makes the fearsome foursome complete. All four receivers have had some success against the Argonauts this season.

Offensive Line: Centre Marwan Hage anchors an outstanding all-Canadian offensive line that allowed just 26 sacks, tops in the league. The rushing numbers are not as impressive but with the receiving corps at his disposal, keeping Glenn on his feet is their most important role.

Special Teams: What more can be said of rookie returner Marcus Thigpen? He returned the season's opening kickoff 93 yards for a touchdown. Later in the curtain raiser, he ran back a missed field-goal attempt 118 yards. The Argonauts would be wise to keep the ball away from Thigpen. Kicker Sandro DeAngelis struggled early on but the veteran knows what to do in the playoffs and punter Eric Wilbur has been solid since joining the Tiger-Cats in mid-season.

Argonauts' Defence: The defence ranked last in yardage surrendered with 388 per game, due in part to a struggling offence that left them on the field too often. However, the bend-don't break method seems to work because they were among the league leaders in points given up with just 25 per game. The cause for concern comes from the fact the Argos were next-to-last in the league against the pass and the Tiger-Cats can certainly air it out. Defensive end Ronald Flemons and linebacker Kevin Eiben have been bright spots.

Matt Dunigan says the Tiger-Cats win if... they shut down Boyd, shut down Boyd and you guessed it, shut down Boyd!!! The defensive line of Hickman, Baggs, McIntyre, Bolden, Reid and now Steele (as Matt Kirk is injured) will have to plug the holes in the interior so Floyd, Knowlton and Johnson can fly around and take their shots on Boyd. If the Ticats can force Lemon into second and long situations, their chances of winning will increase dramatically.

The Ticats need to force Lemon into beating them with his arm and the passing game which has struggled this season. This has to be done by mixing things up and not allowing the big play over the top. Don't let Lemon have the opportunity to play pitch and catch with one receiver, meaning, don't put yourself in position to get beat deep. Keep Dylan Barker back their head hunting!!!

Defensive coordinator Greg Marshall likes to mix his coverages up, confusing the opposition with different looks. This will be extremely important in getting Lemon to hold on to the ball that split second longer allowing the pressure to get home.

Special teams cover units must do another great job of containing and laying licks on Chad Owens. Beswick, Carter, Mariuz, Barker, James, Brown and company must be aggressive and gang tackle. Be on their toes 24/7 looking for trickery in all phases of the special teams. Get out of the gate early and play from a lead. Put majors on the board when given the chance as singles and three's don't get it done against the Argos. Double cuts and flooding the Argos zone coverage will be paramount for the Ticats success. Great first down production is important against the Boatman. Hang on to the ball, too many drops lately and this week, there is no room for error.

When the Argonauts have the ball

Passing Game: Much has been made about the struggles of quarterback Cleo Lemon. Among starters who played the bulk of the season, the former Miami Dolphins pivot ranks last in most categories, including yardage (3,433), touchdowns (15) and quarterback rating (78.1). As a team, the Argos averaged just 214 yards per game trough the air, last in the league.

Running Game: Most Outstanding nominee Cory Boyd was voted by his peers to be the toughest player in the CFL. Despite battling injuries on the field and personal tragedy off the field, Boyd captured the rushing title with 1,359 yards. If the Argos are to advance to the East Final in Montreal, the rookie will need to have his best effort against the Tiger-Cats.

Receiving Game: With Lemon's troubles at quarterback, it's no surprise there were no Argos receivers in the top 20 by season's end. To put it in perspective, Jeremaine Copeland led the team in receiving with 639 yards, despite missing four games due to injury. Second on the team was Andre Durie and third was special teamer Chad Owens, who picked up half his 576 yards while Copeland was out.

Offensive Line: With names like Rob Murphy, Dominic Picard and Taylor Robertson, one would expect that pass protection would be a strength of team. However, the Argos gave up almost three sacks per game, adding to Lemon's problems adjusting to the Canadian game. On the ground, the team fared much better, averaging 6.3 yards per rush.

Special Teams: As good as Marcus Thigpen has been for the Tiger-Cats, Chad Owens has been even better. He is the fifth player in CFL history to record 1,000 yards in both punt and kick-off returns and has been the team's most electrifying player. Newcomer Noel Prefontaine, who sat out the season finale in Montreal with an apparent injury, does double duty as punter and kicker and has the league's longest field goal this sasson at 57 yards. On a sour note, standout Bryan Crawford will miss Sunday's game with an adductor injury.

Tiger-Cats' Defence: The Argonauts' lacklustre passing attack will be going up against the Ticats' equally lacklustre passing defence. Hamilton gave up almost 300 yards per game through the air to rank last in the league but the late-season addition of Stevie Baggs has improved the pass rush a great deal. The rushing defence is better but Cory Boyd could cause some problems. Defensive back Bo Smith, who rejoined the team from the NFL in late Spetember, is on the 9-game injured list.

Matt Dunigan says the Argonauts win if... they adhere to their template for success which all season has been:

  • 1. Play exceptional defence
  • 2. Dominate special teams (rely on Chad Owens for unreal returns)
  • 3. Be disciplined, don’t take unnecessary penalties
  • 4. Ride Cory Boyd and that outstanding O-line
  • 5. The biggest one of them all is to hang onto the football

So if they can stick to that overall game plan then they typically win football games. When Jim Barker made the decision to go with Cleo Lemon this year, it was based on a number of positive qualities including his poise, maturity and ability to make good decisions. When the Argos ship has been sunk this season, it has been when they lost the turnover battle. When the Argos win this battle they are a perfect 7-0, when they lose 1-9. The last time the Argos played the Ticats, the special teams unit was shut down. They must sustain blocks in the East Semi-final to let Owens do his thing! The Flyin' Hawaiian is next to unstoppable and needs to produce some big returns for a shorter field for the offence to capitalize on.

Defensively, they must not jump the first move by the Hamilton Ticats receivers and continue to be patient in the secondary. Lastly, the Argos must ride their nomination for Most Outstanding Player, Cory Boyd. When the Argos can establish the line of scrimmage and get Boyd in a groove, it's been magic and extremely effective to the tune of 1,359 yards on 226 carries. The benefits in doing so are many: keeps the defence rested, lets the O-line deliver shots as opposed to receive and keeps the ball away from Kevin Glenn and his big-strike offence.

Jim Barker chose to rest his top guns in the last regular season game vs Montreal and I believe that will pay big dividends for his troops. The D-line has been banged up lately and the return of Adriano Belli will boost an already fantastic group with the likes of Flemons, Buzbee, Taylor, Foley and if they can get Big Huntley back in uniform, they can cause some serious pressure problems for the Ticats.

Schultz Against The World

The Tiger-Cats have the better quarterback playing at home, and that QB will have his best receiver back in Arland Bruce.

One underestimated aspect of Ticats football is that they have very few stars, as opposed to just a group of good players.

You know that Hamilton will overload the box and try to take Cory Boyd out of the game. They did it previously, they can do it again

TIGER-CATS 29 ARGONAUTS 19... Take the challenge!

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