What we learned in Hamilton’s 41-26 loss to the B.C. Lions

Despite playing their best game of the season by far the Hamilton Tiger-Cats still fell by the score of 41-26 to the B.C. Lions at Tim Hortons Field. The loss drops the Ticats to 0-3 on the season and keeps them as the lone team yet to register a point in the standings. Here is what we learned.

They need to play perfect to win
The numbers look pretty darn good: 424 yards of offense, including 361 through the air, three total turnovers, and just seven penalties. So why then did the Ticats loss by 15?

For starters, they allowed Travis Lulay to throw for 436 yards after coming on in relief of Jonathon Jennings after Jennings left the game after one pass attempt. Those 436 yards are a record for a player coming on in relief. Lulay is a former MOP and Grey Cup MVP, but if you had told people that the Lions would lose Jennings on the team’s first play, a lot of people would have given the edge to Hamilton. But Lulay dialled back the clock and gave a vintage Lulay performance, shredding the Ticats en route to a big road win.

The Ticats also allowed Nick Moore to have a massive game, catching 10 passes for 220 yards and a touchdown. Moore is the fifth player to crack the century mark receiving against the Ticats and his 220 yards is the most for any player so far this season in the CFL, surpassing the 210 yards S.J. Green had against the Ottawa Redblacks. The Ticats held B.C.’s other two stud receivers in check, with Manny Arceneaux and Bryan Burnham combining for just seven catches for 45 yards, but that still wasn’t good enough.

What this game showed is that Hamilton pretty much has to be perfect if they are going to win, especially against the league’s best teams. The Ticats had a lead, created turnovers and moved the ball, yet still trailed at halftime and lost by double digits. B.C., who is one of the league’s elite teams and was on the third game of a three-game eastern road trip, played far from perfect and won the ball game handily. B.C. just has that extra something that Hamilton does not right now, and that is why the Lions have won three in a row and the Ticats have lost three in a row.

Offense doesn’t help the defense
Hamilton’s offense did some great things against the Lions, but they didn’t do them at the right times. The Ticats could have put a lot of separation between themselves and the Lions in the first half after Hamilton forced three turnovers and two punts on B.C.’s first six drives, but all that good work netted the team just 13 points, and they went two-and-out after three of those drives. If the offense had found a way to move the ball and at least get three points on each of those stalled drives, the game could have gone a lot differently. Instead, the offense wasted the best defensive effort the team has put out all season.

Defense doesn’t help the offense
The defense isn’t off the hook here either, though. For as good as they were for most of the first half, they pretty much completely fell apart late in the second quarter and never recovered. The Lions scored two touchdowns in less than a minute late in the second quarter to take a lead they would never relinquish. But despite that, the Ticats still had a chance early in the fourth quarter after Zach Collaros threw a touchdown pass to Jalen Saunders, and then connected with Mike Jones on a two-point convert to pull within 10. On the Lions next series, they march the field rather easily and score on a Jeremiah Johnson run to make it 41-24. Ball game. The offense wasted a great defensive effort in the first half, but the defense had a chance to keep this game close late and failed.

Jalen Saunders is a keeper
If we are looking for bright spots, we need to look no further than Jalen Saunders. After having a very good game against the Riders a week ago, Saunders exploded against the Lions for 147 yards on five catches and a touchdown. Saunders has been excellent for Hamilton in his two games and is just the latest example of this team being able to find quality rookie American receivers.

Richard Leonard has a breakout performance
The secondary is going to take a beating, but it can be hard to find fault in the game Richard Leonard had. You can’t ask for much more than two interceptions and a fumble recovery. It was the first really good game from anyone in this patchwork secondary and it deserves a shout out.

Ethan Davis probably shouldn’t get too comfortable
Ethan Davis had a rough night, as he was the guy constantly matched up against Nick Moore, and as I said earlier, Moore went off for 220 yards in this game. Davis got into the lineup after Week 1, and after his game against the Lions, I have to think he has played his way out of the lineup. Abdul Kanneh is hopefully going to be back in a week or two, which means someone in the secondary has to be replaced. While Kanneh and Davis don’t play the same position, moving Davis off the roster and another DB into his spot, while Kanneh goes into his familiar boundary halfback spot, would be the logical move based on Davis’ play against B.C.

We are probably never seeing C.J. Gable in a Ticats uniform again
Ross Scheuerman got his second start in place of C.J. Gable, and while the numbers weren’t eye popping, it was easily Hamilton’s best rushing performance of the season, and their best in longer than I can remember. Scheuerman had eight carries for 58 yards and a rushing touchdown, as well as catching three passes for nine yards. Again, not exactly amazing numbers, but good enough to keep C.J. Gable glued to the bench for the foreseeable future.

People calling for firings don’t know what they’re talking about
So with the team at 0-3, we are starting to see the calls for people’s heads. Fire the coach, cut all the players, bench the quarterback. Whenever a team hits a rough patch, you will hear the cries for massive changes, but if you think that anyone should be fired, you simply do not know what you are talking about. This isn’t hockey; firing a football coach now, or at all during the season, will not turn the team around. It is basically waving the white flag and giving up on the season. And anyone who thinks any team in the CFL is out of it after three games must be new to the league. No one is out of the race after one-sixth of the season, no matter how bad they have looked.

And I say all this while freely admitting that I don’t think this Ticats team is very good, but that doesn’t mean I am in favour of sacking the entire coaching staff after four weeks. Even with my overly pessimistic assessment of the team, I wouldn’t dare suggest the team should fire its coach or bench its starting quarterback. That’s just plain foolish.

But some think the team should can Austin, and to them I say, “OK, you want him fired, so who’s replacing him?” There is no one out there to take over, save for maybe the team’s defensive coordinator who you are also calling to be replaced. So unless you have a viable, realistic option, just zip it with the fire-everybody talk.

Looking ahead
It doesn’t get any easier for the Ticats as they are not only on a short week, but their next opponent is the last unbeaten team in the league, the 3-0 Edmonton Eskimos.

This might sound crazy, but Edmonton hasn’t looked like a juggernaut and I think this is a game the Ticats could actually win. They had flashes against the Lions, and if they can somehow find a way to put it together, I truly believe they can beat the Eskimos on Thursday. It probably wouldn’t be a pretty win, but any win at this point will look like Kate Upton in a string bikini to the Ticats and their fans.

Josh Smith

Josh Smith

Josh has been writing about the Ticats and the CFL since 2010 and was sporting his beard way before it was cool. Will be long after, too.
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Josh Smith
About Josh Smith (251 Articles)
Josh has been writing about the Ticats and the CFL since 2010 and was sporting his beard way before it was cool. Will be long after, too.

39 Comments on What we learned in Hamilton’s 41-26 loss to the B.C. Lions

  1. Thank you Josh I have been saying this all along. 0-3 in the CFL far from means youre out of it. Its not how you start its how you finish. Also everyone calling for Austins head. What a joke. Yes he has a temper yes he demands perfection. You think Kent likes losing? Really? Hes the boss and if you dont do your job or like it well theres the door.

  2. Im with you 100% Josh ,way to early to throw in the towel,Ti-Cats will come around it may take a few games but things looked better last night at least it gives us some light at the end of the tunnel …..Go Cats Go !!!!!!

  3. Team is bad and no you cannot fire the coach at this time and I would not bench Collaros because he has become gun shy. Who wouldn’t with all the missing protection since last year. It is a bad team and it clearly falls on Austins shoulders. This was an excellent team two years ago and what happened? The only constant is Austin, since Condell left all hell has broken loose. Why would Steinhauer who played his whole professional career here and his coaching career here whom I believe was being groomed to be the heir apparent suddenly go back to the states. “Austin?” This is a bad team I would not be surprised to see a 2 or 3 win season here. Already we are saying what is going to happen next year?

    • GoCats! // July 17, 2017 at 9:22 am //

      If Steinauer “played his whole pro career here”, why can I find references for playing eight years for other teams (Ottawa and Toronto) versus the four years he was in Hamilton?

      The whole coaching career also doesn’t fit as he has as many years as an Argo coach (DBC or DC) as he does as a Ticat (DC only).

      I agree there’s no point in firing anyone until later in the season – that doesn’t stop some influencing for Austin to take a more limited role.

      As for Collaros, switching up series with Masoli can’t hurt IMO as that would let Collaros see what the opposing defense is doing.

      • I had wondered the same thing about Steinhaurer unless Frank was simply referring to Southern Ontario rather than the Ticats since very little of his playing career was in Hamilton (unfortunately).

        • Southern Ontario or Canada would fit.

          Of course part of the equation is that with Tedford reportedly pulling in $1.6 million US or so a year plus incentives, I suspect Steinauer received an upgrade in pay, without considering reported other stuff like a pension.

  4. manny oliveira // July 16, 2017 at 5:54 pm //

    For us who think it’s only 3 games, look back to last year, how did we finish?? Yeah 1-7, so it’s actually 1-10 in last 11! Who the hell hires and OC and strips him of duties 1 game in? Are you kidding me! Wally doesn’t even were a headset cause he TRUSTS his coordinators! Wake up Austin is toast! Just ask Steinauer and Condell! 2 studs gone cause of Austin! Fire his ass! But ill continue to support these guys, even though I don’t agree with coaching staff but through thick n thin im there wearing my colours! Hoping for the best but 1-17 season, been there done that, cheers! Love my Cats, hate losing!

  5. neil kennington // July 16, 2017 at 5:54 pm //

    Great article Josh! Tom Higgins ex Montreal, Edmonton and Calgary HC is available to be the head coach if the Ti Cats choose to go that route. I heard he is coaching a high school team in New Jersey.

    • I actually like the idea if it ever comes to firing Austin. Austin was supposed to be more media savvy than his predecessor but he is not much more so. Tom Higgins is the ultimate gentleman and would be a great replacement but I am not yet ready to fire Austin.

      • GoCats! // July 18, 2017 at 2:48 pm //

        Maybe … I’d also want to check how happy Noel Thorpe is about being passed over by Montreal for HC position. I believe his contact expires this year with Montreal.

        It might take care of HC and DC in one swoop.

  6. Peter Dyakowsky pardon the spelling was cut and eventually ended up in sask is a stud! Cats could really use him now.

  7. Nanaman // July 16, 2017 at 6:10 pm //

    I’m siding with KA.

    They were competitive against the Lions while missing Kanneh, Tolliver, Fantuz, Butler and Emmanuel Davis.

    I’d like to think they would’ve been a much much better team with 3 of the 5 back in playing.

    Still early… Hopefully, the return of a few will result in some Ws

  8. Not fire …re allocate lol.

  9. Some one tell me the last time this organization had more than 12 wins? Ok now tell me how many times they finished above 500 since 1999?
    Its a long history of bad football here in Hamilton. We have never had a solid football ops team since I can remember. This will not change as long as Mr. We only throw the ball is in charge.

  10. Jennings can take a holiday for a bruise.An insult to the Tiger-Cats? The Cats will get him next time! He is fine as soon as the game is over.
    Pamper him…Wally!!

    • Hamilton had to operate the team on a low budget while other teams like in Alberta had oodles of money to lavish on teams.Hamilton was proud to take on these rich teams with the lower budget little, steel city team.The Cats, too, had their heroes.

  11. manny oliveira // July 16, 2017 at 7:02 pm //

    Milner think it’s been 5 winning seasons since 99! And I know football, don’t insult me! Wanna talk football anytime anywhere I’m insulted at the state of this franchise!

    • GoCats! // July 17, 2017 at 9:40 am //

      Which winning season did I miss as I was able to find:
      1) 2001 @ 11-7
      2) 2004 @ 9-8-1
      3) 2013 @ 10-8
      4) 2015 @ 10-8

  12. Christopher // July 16, 2017 at 7:26 pm //

    Ottawa at 0-2-1 are far from out of it this Season… but the TiCats at 0-3 are toast… anyone who thinks this team is going to turn things around certain knows nothing about Kent Austin and his inability to perform… Austin should have been fired 2 years ago…. And Josh Smith… firing a coach mid season has never helped a team??? Just look at the Montreal Alouettes in 2016… If they had fired Popp sooner. The Ticats would never have made the playoffs… Maybe Austin would have gotten fired then…

    • Not sure the Popp firing made that much of difference for their upswing at the end of the season as they faced mostly terrible teams or teams fielding their practice rosters as they were heading into the play-offs. Chapdelaine seems to be too conservative as a coach to give any city a Grey championship team.

  13. Great article Josh.
    Totally agree with your comments on Austin and Collaris.
    So many have for forgotten where we came from.
    Let’s support and cheer for our Ticats as they work to become better.
    We were close to losing out team.
    Tearing it apart is a totally crazy idea.
    Go Cats Go !!!

  14. Nice summary Josh. Agree with the kudos to Saunders and Leonard.

    The team showed much better, but let things spiral away on both O and D and against the kind of great team BC is that just can’t happen.

    I don’t understand giving the run game some life then not keeping the blood flowing. I don’t understand why we don’t put the receivers out more than 5-8 yards from scrimmage (especially on second and long). I don’t understand why we rush three but cannot cover with nine.

    However I feel better about things, but am far from being positive… not yet. Still 15 games to go, but it’s time to build on what advanced and chuck the things that regressed or stayed stale.

  15. OSKEE WEE WEE // July 16, 2017 at 7:50 pm //

    Good Article…. OSKEE WEE WEE

  16. I can’t say that I’m at all surprised by Lulay’s performance as he’s had PLENTY of time to rehab/rest the shoulder that had been hurt and now gets little use – at least until last night. I think playing against him and his veteran savvy might have been more difficult than Jennings who is a bit more susceptible to making errors. Lulay wasn’t afraid to take off with the ball. That said, I do agree with pretty much everything in the article. Getting some healthy experienced starters back, Zach having more time to toss the ball and get used to his re-made receiving corps (Tasker IS the only one out there who’s played continually with Collaros – the other receivers have played only occasionally or are totally new) and a little more running using Scheuerman (even Zach took off a couple of times – yeah!) are all going to help the team to look better and begin to see numbers in the win column. I’m sure hoping that they can pull off the W vs Edmonton on Thursday!

  17. Philski // July 16, 2017 at 8:21 pm //

    3rd game in a row that the TC’s have been beaten by a 100 year old QB. This time however the 100 year old QB in question, Lulay, not only set a personal best record but also a league record for most yards completed by a QB in relief. Inexcusable. Where the hell were the adjustments at half time? Everyone knows this guy runs like Fred Flintstone. PRESSURE him. The $550,000 man didn’t fare that much better either. The pic with 90 seconds left in the first half was horrible…WTF are you thinking man? You know the Lions are opportunistic and like to clog the middle. So either throw real deep, or to the sidelines. Especially when you have an average arm. When this game was slipping away in the 3rd quarter and the $550,000 man was stone cold, Austin should have put Masoli in to change things up. Usual stubbornness as usual got the better of him however. Banks is a shadow of himself – trade him. And by the way, next time you have a promotional gig to have families go onto the field after the game, Mr. Caretaker, please have a decent number of TC’s out there to meet and greet. Blessings to #33 (Davis) and #93 (McGough), but they are not exactly star studded players. More embarrassing was the fact that there were more BC Lion players out there then TC’s. But then again, that itself reflects the current state of affairs for the Austin regime.

    • He sure was not running like Fred Flintstone when he was chasing down Richard Leonard on the 2-point play.

      • I’m still in shock about that one. Believe me Mark I have watched this guy play numerous times at BC Place throughout the years and this guy couldn’t even outrun the water boy. Where he got this new found burst of speed I have no idea – maybe he ate his “Wheaties” in the morn. The only thing I will say though is that unfortunately Leonard slowed down, just for a half second while in stride, and that probably enabled Fred to narrow down the angle. Even with that Leonard should have still outrun him – unbelievable.

  18. I hate that the Ticats are losing but I saw glimmers of hope in this loss. The team still lacks consistent performace.

    Hopefully with return of Kanneh and other defensive backs that will improve. The offensive needs to develop a rythmn with quick short passes, screens and occassiinal running plays. By consistently getting downs and scoring their output might improve. Go Cats go!!!

  19. Marc Thigpen // July 16, 2017 at 10:55 pm //

    Banks & Collaros should be benched – now both shadows of themselves.

  20. Banks doesn’t look like his old self. Might be the end of the road soon for him, sadly. He’s been fun to watch. (Except when he shit kicks my BC Lions) I loved Kent Austin as a QB and as a coach for a few years. Just on FIRE a lot of the time and I think that worked back then. But young guys these days don’t get motivated by controlling hard asses. I think they tend to tune them out more than in the past. Young guys need more of a relationship with the coaches than they did in the past in order to feel motivated. I don’t think KA is all that good at that. Might be near the end for him too unless he can change. Too bad because he was great when he fist came back to the CFL.

  21. Brian Eggleton // July 17, 2017 at 6:34 am //

    Where is Rich Stubler…..best defensive coordinator in the league for years….

  22. NotJoshSmith // July 17, 2017 at 6:59 am //

    Once again… You’re an idiot Josh!

  23. The scary thing is they’ve only played one elite team, and have played two against whom they should be competitive. They have to wait for NFL cuts, and shore up the O-line and DBs. Won’t be pretty, but I suspect they will be competitive in the second half of the season. But it’s tough to see how anyone else in the East will finish behind them. Too bad; the Ticats have great fans and a very good game-day experience.

  24. Ticat Mike // July 17, 2017 at 9:21 am //

    Excellent analysis. The frustration is with the perennial slow starts, lack of adjustments within games, poor starts, and the deficiencies that seem to never get addressed as a result of injuries, poor recruitment, overevaluating the talent at hand, and, quite frankly, very questionable schemes and use of personnel at times. I’m not advocating getting rid coaches as the season should play out, and Austin has had a knack of getting the team into a groove by mid season — although inconsistent play is also a hallmark of the past two years. Having said that — I’m really not impressed with the predictability of our game, the ease of defending or attacking our offense & defense, the disappearance of anything “special” about our special teams. Ok – let’s give this team some space to get the injured back and sort things out. Make me a believer. Restore hope. Right now — not impressed & it is deja vu all over again.
    Decades of ineptitude take their toll.

  25. Flying Wing // July 17, 2017 at 9:35 am //

    I can’t figure Richard Leonard out. He seems to have football smarts and has a nose for the ball but man is he slow for a defensive back or what. When he returned the blocked field goal in Toronto he barely crossed the goal line before being caught after having a clean 10-20 jump with the ball. On Saturday he scooped the two point attempt and simply ran out of gas after about 60 yards of return. I also can’t believe the play of Ethan Davis and how the BC receiver blew by him on a straight fly route. Did he not see the guy coming at him at full speed? I have zero speed but at least I could see what was happening even from the stands.

  26. You may be right about the Eskimos – they have won 3 games by a total of 9 points. But there’s 2 ways of looking at it. They haven’t unleashed their passing attack yet & they have excellent receivers. They have passed 58% of the time so have great balance in their offence. There have only been 2 RB’s with 100 yard games – White & Van. They’ve won the time of possession with 35 minutes each of the last 2 games. So, yes, they have narrowly won 3 games which is the good news. The other side of the coin is they’re due to get their passing attack in gear & I’d be surprised if Maas won’t be testing the TiCat DB’s with Bowman, Zylstra, Hazleton etc. with more of a passing game than in the previous 3 contests. It will be interesting.

  27. Tiger man // July 18, 2017 at 3:21 pm //

    “The loss drops the Ticats to 0-3 on the season and keeps them as the lone team yet to register a point in the standings.”

    Ottawa is 0-3 as well.

    And they “won” the grey cup last season…

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