Four weeks, plus a day, this city waited to see its Favourite Sons in the flesh and for a while, it was all sweetness and light.
Then the darkness, the eclipse that has shadowed this team throughout this young 2017 season, rolled in. With a 41-26 vengeance.
When a team is fragile — and that’s what the Hamilton Tiger-Cats are at this juncture, although most of them deny it – it doesn’t take much to stumble from the sunshine into the shade.
For nearly a half of football, the Ticats stayed with, and ahead of, the B.C, Lions but then? In analytics, they call it regression to the mean. So a good start by the Hamilton offence, which also finished well, the emergence of a viable running game, some concrete pressure from the defensive fronts, and a pair of interceptions and a fumble return by cornerback Richard Leonard, all in the first half, may have provided encouragement to those in uniform but to the rest of us, turned out to be mere teases. A glimpse of what could be but which definitely is not and may never be.
So a good start by the Hamilton offence, which also finished well, the emergence of a viable running game, some concrete pressure from the defensive fronts, and a pair of interceptions and a fumble return by cornerback Richard Leonard, all in the first half, may have provided encouragement to those in uniform but to the rest of us, turned out to be mere teases. A glimpse of what could be but which definitely is not and may never be.Once Travis Lulay got his feet under him after replacing starting BC quarterback Jonathon Jennings, who was intercepted and hurt on his first play from scrimmage, the Ticats defence, especially the back six, were benevolent hosts. They did make three
Once Travis Lulay got his feet under him after replacing starting BC quarterback Jonathon Jennings, who was intercepted and hurt on his first play from scrimmage, the Ticats defence, especially the back six, were benevolent hosts. They did make three picks, but were far more often picked on.Head coach Kent Austin, himself being harshly
Head coach Kent Austin, himself being harshly criticized by the hard-core fans, promised he would not keep groups together just for continuity’s sake, so it’s safe to assume there will be changes in the defensive backfield for Thursday’s massive undertaking against the Edmonton Eskimos.
The passing yardage (over 1200 yards) that three veteran quarterbacks have amassed against this defence in three games is unspeakable and the next three weeks they’ve got the Murderer’s Row of Alberta coming to the plate: Mike Reilly, Bo Levi Mitchell, Reilly again.
The defence had held the Lions to just six points through the better part of two quarters. But a couple of near-sacks that Lulay eluded in his own end stimulated a 95-yard touchdown drive that proceeded with little resistance and gave B.C. a lead it would never surrender. Pressure on the quarterback and hard coverage in the defensive backfield became more or less a memory after that.
If you’re losing and delicately balanced, as the Ticats are, those kinds of things happen and begin repeating themselves. A small item like a near-miss snowballs into a big item like a long and successful drive. That drive leads to another because confidence builds for one side and shrinks for the other.
It happens on the other side of the ball too. The tap turns off with almost no warning.
The offensive line generally gave Zach Collaros more time than he had in the first couple of games and they scored a pair of majors in the first 16 minutes, but after that the offence completely lost itself for a full half-hour of play. After one two-and out, they were held to another, then another.
Their nine possessions in the middle two quarters produced seven two-and-outs, an interception which led to the Lions’ second touchdown in 59 seconds, and only one first down, although that did result in a field goal.
A decent fourth quarter by the offence has to be viewed in the light of the Lions’ 18-point lead at the time.
Sudden negative turns can be functions of a number of factors including, but not limited to, an erosion of self-belief; better in-game adjustments by the opponents; or talent which is not equal to a 60-minute challenge. All of those have shown up this June and July.
Sports history has repeatedly demonstrated that when little leaks lead inevitably to floods, a brittle team can sub-consciously find itself fearing the leaks….and even waiting for them. The Ticats may not be there yet but you wouldn’t want to see them get any closer.
Some of the Ticats pointed out afterwards that there were many ways in which they were better than in the previous two games, and that is true, but that bar was pretty low, no? And when the game was most on the line, there was enough regression to put it well out of reach.
And Travis Lulay didn’t need that kind of help.
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