Uncertainty surrounds Ticats play calling duties

Four days before the Hamilton Tiger-Cats home opener against the B.C. Lions and quarterback Zach Collaros isn’t exactly sure who’ll be calling the offensive plays.

Head coach Kent Austin was on the headset during last Saturday’s loss to the Saskatchewan Roughriders but coordinator Stefan Ptaszek performed the duties week one against the Argonauts.

Austin wasn’t in the mood to clarify after Tuesday’s practice.

“It is a collaborative effort. I did call the plays, it doesn’t mean that I’ll do that going forward,” Austin said. “There’s always reasons for that, depending on the responsibilities of the other guys and that will continue.”

That said, Austin and Ptaszek won’t share play-calling duties going forward.

“I don’t think that will be the case. We want consistency with that. Some of that has to do with preparation and viability to prepare as well, in light of my other responsibilities,” Austin said. “It will be determined based on all the other factors that I’m not going to get into right now, going forward, based on a level of consistency in that regard, that gives us the best chance to win football games.”

Ptaszek, who spent ten years as the head coach of the McMaster Marauders, was hired in May of 2016 after the sudden departure of Tommy Condell. But while he held the title, it would be a stretch to say that he fulfilled the duties of offensive coordinator in the traditional sense last season as Austin did the lion’s share of the game-planning, ran the offence during practice and called the plays during games.

That was supposed to change this season with Ptaszek taking a larger role in the offence, including play calling, but it lasted just one game before Austin took over against the Riders.

Regardless of who’s been in charge, the Ticat offence has struggled this season. They’ve scored just one offensive touchdown through two games and are averaging just 11.5 offensive points per contest, by far the worst mark in the CFL. Of the 20 major offensive categories tracked by the league, the Ticats are last in 14 of them.

Collaros, who has been critical of his own play so far this season, says who calls the plays matters little to him.

“I don’t think it affects me at all. I’m just doing what I’m coached to do and I think that’s really all I can be asked to do,” Collaros said. “I would feel comfortable with coach Austin or coach Ptaszek. That’s not a decision for me to make.”

Drew Edwards

Drew Edwards

Drew Edwards is into his eighth season covering the CFL and the Ticats for the Hamilton Spectator. He is the founder and editor of 3DownNation.
Drew Edwards
Drew Edwards
About Drew Edwards (1392 Articles)
Drew Edwards is into his eighth season covering the CFL and the Ticats for the Hamilton Spectator. He is the founder and editor of 3DownNation.

40 Comments on Uncertainty surrounds Ticats play calling duties

  1. Jeff May // July 11, 2017 at 6:29 pm //

    A victory will solve a lot! From bottom to top this week!

  2. Scottsask // July 11, 2017 at 6:32 pm //

    We know how that feels here, winning cures all. It’s only week three, plenty of ball left to be played.

  3. Sea of Dead // July 11, 2017 at 6:35 pm //

    It’s what Collaros is not saying that would be more significant here … Could care less who is calling the plays as long as he has an OL that gives him at least 4-5 seconds of protection per play so that he doesn’t get concussed and/or injured again.

  4. If you have done your job hiring the right guy for OC, then give him the job – that’s what he’s getting paid to do. If you’re doing the play calling yourself, you are the de facto OC. It seems to me that Austin likes to micromanage things. It isn’t fair to the OC. If you’re taking over in the 2nd game, people assume you have no faith in your OC, regardless of what you say. Actions speak louder than words. Condell is missed. He was excellent but who knows what happened really. Left the team & not long after comes back involved on offence with hated rivals, the Argos. How’s that working out so far?

    • The problem is that Ptazek came out of the minor league – the CIS. He’s in way over his head. They should’ve hired an experienced CFL coach or an ex-NCAA or NFL guy.
      It’s not just about play calling, you have to teach and know how to handle pros

      • GoCats! // July 12, 2017 at 9:06 am //

        An experienced CFL guy would still be shackled to Austin’s “just run a bit, pass most of the time” offense. Austin has been clear that he wants his offense and his offense only run.

        Until Ptaszek is given freedom to work as he sees best with what he has – I don’t think we know anything about his abilities as a CFL OC.

        After observing for Austin’s tenure, I am confident the same thing would be said for a CFL experienced OC.

        • richinbanff (Rich Wilson) // July 12, 2017 at 4:12 pm //

          This is the key problem. Until the Ticats can make a defence think they may run once in a while, Zach will be in danger. Only passing is too hard on the lineman. It looks on TV like the O-Line are terrible, but they aren’t being given a chance.

      • The problem isnt Ptazek. The man is micro managed and neutered.
        He was hired because he was agreable.

  5. Matt Duckworth // July 11, 2017 at 6:52 pm //

    Coach Austin should Coach, Ptaszek offensive coordinator calls the plays and Zach Collaros should only call the plays he’s given.

  6. Wrong answer Zack you were only comfortable with condell calling the plays and since he left you haven’t been the same and lets not mention that knee injury. Austin and platzek are not creative play callers which this team needs to be successful since the run game in no where to be found . I believe this team needs to use a 2 quarterback system to be successful this season if not they will just suck!

    • GoCats! // July 12, 2017 at 9:08 am //

      Having watched Ptaszek be creative when he had the freedom to call what he thought best – I’d say Austin is not creative period.

  7. Would like to see them utilize more 2back sets with gable, schuerman, banks, Saunders and prime. Could cause some confusion, extra blockers and decoys coming out of backfield. Just a thought

  8. Shame that Ptaszek left a good gig at Mac to work with Austin.
    If you hire a competent coordinator then let him do his job!!

    • That’s the problem, he came out of McMaster a minor league. He’s in way over his head in the pros

  9. Ticat Mike // July 11, 2017 at 8:07 pm //

    “I’m just doing what I’m coached to do ” . Exactly why Zach looks frustrated so far.
    As for the OC — either he’s the OC and does his job (game plan, play calling) or he’s not needed. This is embarrassing to Stefan who left a great job for this mess. Come on Kent — you have to live by your decisions. Speaks volumes as to why Condell left.

  10. Hors E Power // July 11, 2017 at 10:12 pm //

    What ever happened to the days of Al Bruno? Grover Covington? Rocky Dipietro? Ben Zambasiani? Nurse? Earl the Pearl? Tony Champion? Mike Kerrigan?

    • Humber River // July 11, 2017 at 10:26 pm //

      They’re gone.

    • Did you just wake up?
      That was 30 years ago, none of the current players were born!!

    • Ticat Mike // July 12, 2017 at 9:26 am //

      Although I wouldnt put Nurse in that group of impact players — you’re basically right — the level of talent pales in comparison to those athletes of the past. I remember when Mike Wilson, Larry Butler and Henry Waszcuk anchored one side of the O line — they were dominant — could run, pass protect. LOL – that was eons ago, but I just don’t remember a dominant O line in recent years. Nor, do I rmember a dominant D line — last one may be Covnington, Walker, Sauve….not sure.. This is what we’re reduced to — walking down memory lane to when football was great in Hamilton.

  11. It’s my way or the highway, it looks like an consistent way Austin, runs ship. He was hired as GM, VP, and H.C. and he took on ALL these rolls. Obviously Austin, wanted all this control, when he signed on with Ti-Cats. Tillman has supposedly taken over for GM, and Austin “promoted” or created V.P. of Football Operations. Austin hired Ptasek, as an successful C.I.S. H.C. into a O.C. to replace Condell. Austin, didn’t let him have the reins, the 1st year, to learn the complicated system? One game, and he takes back O.C. There’s definitely a problem here, too much power? Really Buono handles it, maybe he has a better relationship, with his players. Nothing but room, for improvement, here, as something, has to be decided and done, in Tigertown. SOON!

    • I agree too many jobs, and why would they hire a CIS coach as their OC?
      With so many roles for Austin they should’ve hired an experienced OC not a minor league coach. Austin is probably running the offense and teaching Ptazek and calling the plays.
      Time to hire a manager and a pro “O” coach

      • GoCats! // July 12, 2017 at 9:29 am //

        A “pro O coach” won’t make any difference as long as Austin dictates his offense be run, without variation.

        I doubt Austin would stick around if GM was taken away so it’s really about replacing all Austin’s hats.

  12. Austin’s non-answers on the play-calling questions were laughable. If he’s going to refuse to answer, be should be honest about it rather than trying to pretend he answered. That was some Mike Kelly grade B.S.

  13. Hors E Power // July 11, 2017 at 11:04 pm //

    Lets send Austin and Jones on a long trip to get lost

  14. Too much panic in Tiger Town. Austin always figures it out. Saskatchewan is a better team than most people realize as well, Hamilton will come back.

    • Sea of Dead // July 12, 2017 at 7:48 am //

      And don’t forget to put your ‘soothers’ in between beers … That may help to alleviate the pain.

  15. Well said.

  16. The best chance to win when the oline can’t stop anyone is Masoli. Not saying he is better than Collaros but he is better when the pocket collapses.

    • richinbanff (Rich Wilson) // July 12, 2017 at 4:16 pm //

      He makes a couple plays then fumbles or does some other dumb thing with the ball. Changing plays will be more effective

  17. Jim Mathieson // July 12, 2017 at 9:45 am //

    I’d like to see Zac call his own plays ,old school , not the whole game but part of the game .

  18. I’m an Argo fan but I wouldn’t write off the Tiger-Cats yet. They need
    to bolster a few positions with stronger players from the late NFL cuts but
    if they do that they will be competitive with the rest in the east, who aren’t exactly setting the world on fire. Early season football is always full of mistakes and shoddy play, as these games are replacing what used to be a four-game exhibition season. It’s true the offensive coordinator was
    probably in over his head. A position as important that should have been given to an experienced CFL coach.

    • Trouble is … Austin doesn’t want an OC who deviates from his offense that skips a running game. I don’t see any reason to be believe a “Pro OC” would be given any more freedom.

      Without that freedom – I don’t think the results would be different or that anything beyond the Austin offense scheme would be known.

  19. Just a general comment about 3DownNation. Since discovering it, I have been reading it regularly. The future of CFL coverage is in good blogs like this as the mainstream media (there are exceptions) is just not providing the coverage it once did. The Toronto Star for example, now only runs the odd
    token story, many of them written by freelancers or Canadian Press writers.
    The Star considers the CFL irrelevant, forgetting that the dwindling number of newspaper readers are largely baby boomers, which are also the main demographic of the CFL in Toronto and elsewhere. The Sun actually does a
    good job with CFL coverage, drawing on its beat writers in covering the game in other CFL cities. The Globe’s sports coverage was gutted many years ago and it doesn’t provide much coverage of any sport. In the old days the Star, Toronto Telegram (later The Sun) and the Globe went head-to-head for CFL stories and this competition helped fuel demand for tickets. Oh for the good old days of Jim Proudfoot, Milt Dunnell, Dick Beddoes, George Gross, Bob Pennington, Jim Hunt etc

  20. Marty-Moose // July 12, 2017 at 1:35 pm //

    CIS- minor league? John- pull your head outta your butt and take a breath. Top CIS coaches are far more likely to be ready to contribute on a CFL coaching roster than ex NCAA or even NFL coaches. The Canadian game is so different than the American game. A former CIS coach is not the biggest problem in the Hammer. Offensive philosophy held by Austin probably needs to adapt. And the defense is brutal. If any coach is “in over his head” it would be Reinboldt calling the D. They look ineffective. A coach must adapt scheme to fit personnel. Missing two all-star DB’s cannot bring down an entire defense. But it certainly looks to be doing just that in Hamilton.

    • It isn’t just missing THREE all star DBS (you forgot about Butler maybe as well as Kanneh and E Davis) but the fact that the replacement DBs are lacking experience – not talent – and have been pitted against 2 very experienced QBs and mostly well-experienced receivers. They have had little time to gel together as a unit but they WILL get better.

      • Tiger man // July 13, 2017 at 10:27 am //

        Think back to last season and the difficulty we had in the secondary with so many DB’s on the shelf. Again, we had to bring in players with little CFL experience. It really hurt.

        This season is looking to be no different.

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