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Ticats, Riders Week 3 Preview

 

by Marshall Ferguson

 

Lingering anxiety.

 

Thats how I would describe the Hamilton Tiger-Cats bye week and general vibe since a poor performance and week one loss at Toronto.

 

One week is never enough time to be able to understand a team and their direction, but one week of lacklustre offensive line play and old issues in the defensive secondary reappearing will naturally cause concern for a fan base weary of both problems from 2016.

 

Throw a week of not being able to rid yourself of those concerns without a game and you get a team anxious to get back on the field this week. 

 

It is as if the Tiger-Cats got blisters most of the time when they wore a certain shoe throughout 2016. In week one of 2017 they put on a new shoe and still got blisters then someone told them they aren’t allowed to wear shoes for a week. It leaves you wondering that whole week whether the blisters will reappear in Regina this Saturday night. You hope they won’t come back but history has shown you that overtime you wear shoes you get blisters.

 

The matchup coming off the Ticats bye week is entirely it’s own issue. The Riders lost a game they should have won in week one at Montreal but McMaster grad and Marauder cult hero Tyler Crapigna missed a field goal and Saskatchewan left Montreal with a sour start, but an eye on the future. 

 

The Riders returned home with a breath of fresh air opening their new green and white kingdom only to experience another late game missed field goal as Winnipeg spoiled Regina’s Canada 150 party.

 

The Ticats will be going into hostile territory Saturday night against a team desperate as any in the CFL for a win. No team wants to open their new building with a pair of regular season losses but for it to happen to the Riders and their rabid fan base? 

 

Sacrilege.

 

Hamilton has a tall mountain to climb regardless of opponent this week. 

 

Terrence Toliver made just one catch for five yards in the first quarter of week one before having a tackling helmet planted squarely into the side of his knee forcing him to miss the game and be placed on the six game injured list, likely missing the remainder of the season with a slim chance of returning in October.

 

Replacing Toliver, a six-foot five-inches tall leaper with smooth route running will not be the same regardless of who is there. Brandon Banks was used as an emergency stop gap in week one but that seemed to negatively affect his play as a returner. Brian Tyms is the odds on candidate in my opinion to become the ball dominant boundary wide receiver the Ticats need over a couple of Banks-light depth receivers in Jalen Saunders and Demarr Aultman.

 

Regardless of who is running routes in the boundary it won’t matter if the right tackle spot continues to plague protection schemes for the black and gold. CFL rookie Ryan Swindle struggled to prevent a short corner on that right side in week one but he was not the only issue. The national interior three of the Ticats offensive line all took their turns making mistakes including last years standout rookie Brandon Revenberg.

 

Last but certainly not least the Ticats secondary needs to be able to play the ballin the air better. That is not a skill learnt easily or developed over night but the reactivation of Abdul Kanneh - who is not expected to play Saturday - and Emmanuel Davis - whenever he returns from the six-game injured list - would mean the world to the Tiger-Cats pass defence. A group which will face an ever more balanced Riders pass attack Saturday with the addition of Duron Carter next to Naaman Roosevelt, Bakari Grant, Nic Demski and Robb Bagg.

 

The Riders can not start the season 0-3 with two losses in the new palace. The Tiger-Cats cannot start the season 0-2 before returning home to play the Lions and Eskimos who both appear early on to be head and shoulders above the Riders in the West.

 

It’s just week three but we’ve already reached pressure packed games for the Tiger-Cats. 

 

Going 0-2 would not signal the end of their season especially after all three east division opponents lost in week two meaning Hamilton lost no ground. What it would signal is a continuation of issues which need to be addressed soon before the games decide seeding and playoff possibilities. 

 

Going 1-1 and returning home to take on a talented, but currently unspectacular BC Lions club would put to rest that lingering anxiety and perhaps for a week put a bandaid on those 2016 blisters.