Ratio round-up: Ticats, Redblacks, Als

The Ratio Round-Up is a three-part series looking at the way in which each of the CFL’s nine teams will approach the ratio in 2017. Click here for part one of the series (Lions, Esks, Stamps) and here for part two (Riders, Bombers, Argos).

Hamilton Tiger-Cats

The Ticats approached the ratio with uniformity a season ago, starting national players in the same seven spots barring injury.

2016 Ratio Structure

Position Starter Primary Back-Up
Wide Receiver Spencer Watt Mike Jones
Slotback Andy Fantuz Giovanni Aprile
Left Guard Peter Dyakowski Brandon Revenberg
Centre Mike Filer Mattieu Girard
Right Guard Ryan Bomben Brandon Revenberg
Defensive Tackle Ted Laurent Michael Atkinson
Safety Courtney Stephen Mike Daly


Hamilton will look to make one ratio change in 2017 following the departure of Andy Fantuz. Fantuz, who may yet rejoin the Ticats after becoming a free agent last month, will be rehabbing a torn ACL well into the regular season.

2017 Ratio Projection

Position Starter Prospective Back-Up(s)
Wide Receiver Spencer Watt Mike Jones, Giovanni Aprile, Matt Uren
Left Guard Brandon Revenberg Landon Rice
Centre Mike Filer Mattieu Girard
Right Guard Ryan Bomben Everton Williams
Defensive Tackle Ted Laurent Michael Atkinson, Evan Gill
Cornerback Courtney Stephen Elroy Douglas
Safety Craig Butler Mike Daly, Jay Langa, Tyler Storie


Hamilton’s best option to maintain seven starting nationals is by playing two in the secondary, something the club did frequently prior to the knee injury that forced Craig Butler to miss the entire 2016 campaign. Courtney Stephen is a serviceable strong-side cornerback and starting alongside Emanuel Davis or Abdul Kanneh should aid in his adjustment from safety to corner.

The Ticats’ greatest strength with the ratio is the club’s flexibility. Hamilton started four players along the offensive line at times last season when rookie Brandon Revenberg kicked out to right tackle, while Ted Laurent and Michael Atkinson teamed up to create an all-Canadian interior defensive line for a stretch as well. Justin Capicciotti, acquired from the Riders late last season, is also a legitimate starting pass rusher should the club be forced to sit John Chick or Adrian Tracy.

Look for the Ticats to target an offensive lineman or defensive back in May’s CFL draft.

Ottawa Redblacks

The Redblacks were the CFL’s only club to consistently start eight Canadians all last season. Starting eight nationals — one more than the required seven — is a major advantage for CFL clubs as it allows them to replace a Canadian starter with an American should an injury occur in-game.

2016 Ratio Structure

Position Starter Primary Back-Up
Slotback Brad Sinopoli Scott MacDonell
Left Guard J’Michael Deane Matt Albright
Centre Jon Gott Alex Mateas
Right Guard Nolan MacMillan Alex Mateas
Right Tackle Jason Lauzon-Seguin Matt Albright
Defensive End Connor Williams Arnaud Gascon-Nadon
Defensive Tackle Zack Evans Ettore Lattanzio
Safety Antoine Pruneau Dan West

J’Michael Deane departed for Toronto via free agency, opening the door for 2015 first overall selection Alex Mateas to enter the starting line-up at left guard.

2017 Ratio Projection

Position Starter Prospective Back-Up(s)
Slotback Brad Sinopoli Scott MacDonell, Jake Harty, Riley Wilson, Jamal Kett
Left Guard Alex Mateas Kadeem Adams
Centre Jon Gott Matt Albright
Right Guard Nolan MacMillan Kyle Fraser-Audit
Right Tackle Jason Lauzon-Seguin Randy Beardy
Defensive End Connor Williams Arnaud Gascon-Nadon, Andrew Marshall
Defensive Tackle Zack Evans Ettore Lattanzio
Safety Antoine Pruneau Dan West, Adam Berger, Jean-Philippe Bolduc, Mikael Charland

Featuring solid starters across the board, Ottawa’s national talent is arguably the CFL’s best. Brad Sinopoli is probably the CFL’s best Canadian receiver, while Connor Williams’ ability to play any of the four positions along the defensive line is a huge asset. Jason Lauzon-Seguin also provides nice versatility in his ability to play both guard and tackle.

The Redblacks lack depth along the offensive line, but being able to replace a Canadian starter with an American lessens the immediate need for hog help. The addition of Adam Berger in free agency was a sneaky-good move, giving the club an experienced back-up national safety.

Montreal Alouettes

The Alouettes were one of two CFL teams to feature an all-Canadian offensive line a season ago, a long-standing tradition of Montreal football.

2016 Ratio Structure

Position Starter Primary Back-Up
Wide Receiver  Samuel Giguere  Alex Charette
Left Tackle  Jacob Ruby  Ryan White
Left Guard  Philip Blake  Jake Piotrowski
Centre  Kristian Matte  Luc Brodeur-Jordain
Right Guard  Philippe Gagnon  Jake Piotrowski
Right Tackle  Jeff Perrett  Ryan White
Safety  Marc-Olivier Broulliette  Dominique Termansen


Montreal’s new general manager, long-time CFL assistant/head coach Kavis Reed, quickly did away with the Alouettes’ all-Canadian offensive line. Reed has quickly put his stamp on Montreal’s roster, revamping his Canadian content to a greater extent than any other CFL club this off-season.

2017 Ratio Projection

Position Starter Prospective Back-Up(s)
Wide Receiver  Samuel Giguere  Alex Charette, Kyle Graves, Seydou Junior Haidara
Left Guard  Philip Blake  Jacob Ruby
Centre  Kristian Matte  Luc Brodeur-Jordain
Right Guard  Philippe Gagnon  Jake Piotrowski
Nose Tackle  Keith Shologan  Don Oramasionwu, Ray Drew
Defensive End  Jabar Westerman  Michael Klassen, Jesse Joseph
Interior Linebacker  Nicolas Boulay  Frederic Plesius, Christopher Johnson

Montreal is expected to compensate for the decision to start just three Canadian offensive linemen by playing two nationals along the defensive line. Jabar Westerman, Keith Shologan, and Don Oramasionwu were added in free agency, two of whom should start. Expect Shologan to start at nose tackle with Westerman at defensive end. Westerman had the least-productive season with the Lions at defensive end in 2015, but playing in Noel Thorpe’s 3-4 defensive scheme should suit his 6’2, 280 pound frame.

Starting Westerman and Shologan along the defensive line would mean a change of scenery for John Bowman or Gabriel Knapton. Some NFL pass rushers — including Dwight Freeney, John Abraham, and Robert Mathis — have extended their careers by becoming outside linebackers in 3-4 schemes. Could Bowman, now 34, do the same?

The Als also lost veteran safety Marc-Olivier Broulliette to Saskatchewan in free agency, replacing him with international Ryan Phillips. Expect Montreal to make up the difference by starting a Canadian in their linebacking corps, replacing international Winston Venable who signed with Toronto. Special teams dynamo Nicolas Boulay and Frederic Plesius — acquired via trade with Hamilton — should duel for the starting job in training camp.

John Hodge

John Hodge

John Hodge is a lifelong follower of the CFL who has been writing about the league since 2014. He is a two-time finalist of the Jon Gott lookalike contest.
John Hodge
John Hodge
About John Hodge (384 Articles)
John Hodge is a lifelong follower of the CFL who has been writing about the league since 2014. He is a two-time finalist of the Jon Gott lookalike contest.

8 Comments on Ratio round-up: Ticats, Redblacks, Als

  1. Great series and great analysis John

  2. Agree – great series. I should mention Reed had previously publicly commented that the Als would be going away from the 3-4 defence this year to the more traditional 4 down linemen. We will see if that happens. That would also allow Westerman to play inside where he is more comfortable &, dare I say, effective. It also allows both Bowman & Knapton to be on the field @ the same time. Keep in mind with Venable gone, they now have Woods, Cox & Hebert left @ LB with the latter 2 turning 34 & 37 during the season. They’ve got some old-timers there so the 4-3 might suit them better.

  3. Jimmy Breslin // March 17, 2017 at 5:05 pm //

    I’m surprised Reed did not shore up his Canadian receiver depth during free agency I guess he wants to go all import there. If you compare Ottawa, (Sinopoli, Macdonell & Harty) to the Als (Giguère, Charette, Graves and Haidara) that is some drop off. While Sam Giguère is a solid performer Brad Sinopoli is for sure the best Canadian receiver in the league. Behind him Macdonell and Harty, both steady proven special teamers, probably start on some other teams whereas Charette and Graves in Montreal remain largely untested and Haidara, with Ottawa last year and eventually released, wasn’t going to replace anyone already on Ottawa’s roster. Montreal better pray Giguère stays healthy. Then there’s the Ticats without Fantuz and only Spencer Watt as a legit starter it seems.

    • Marc Lebut // March 20, 2017 at 9:49 am //

      Alouettes have lots of options. If Luc Brodeur-Jourdain can come back 100% healed up, that would add lots of flexibility on the ratio. Alouettes could then go with 4 O linesmen (Matte, Brodeur-Jourdain, Gagnon and Blake). I doubt we’ll see as much 3-4 D than we’ve seen in the first 12 games of 2016. In his 2nd week as interim HC, Chapdelaine said he asked Thorpe to balance better his D with his 3-4 and 4-3 schèmes, which meant more 4-3. And it worked quite well for the last 4 games. So the Alouettes could fill with 2 D linesmen. The unknown card is the possibility to play Dominique Termansen as DB. He did well in a promising load of young DBs last season. Termansen could win a job, but the problem would be backing him. Kwame Adjei could have a shot at that better than Maïko Zepeda. This is unlikely as the schemes rather looks like 4 OL, 2DL, and 1 WR. I doubt the Alouettes won’t start any of Hebert, Woods and Cox.

      Now, I can’t see Michael Klassen playing DE. He’s not fast enough for that job. He’ll back Shologan or Oramsionwu inside.

  4. Courtney Stephen will be returning to his CB position after spending last season at safety because of Butler’s absence. It isn’t a new position for him as seems to be implied – he played there very well in 2015. I’m also wondering if the Ticats might decide to start 2 nationals along the DL since they allowed Nevis to leave in fee agency and have not looked to replace him with any experienced player to date. Of course they may have another plan in place for filling the vacant spot on the DL.

  5. The Iceman // March 18, 2017 at 6:38 pm //

    Nice write up but all bets are off until after the draft.

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