Ticats to tweak secondary against Esks

With a short week and just two practices, the  Hamilton Tiger-Cats will make only two changes in their defensive configuration for Thursday night’s home game against the undefeated Edmonton Eskimos.

 Will Hill’s return from a one-game suspension means he can resume his role at SAM linebacker, where versatile Keon Lyn filled in last week. Lyn, more naturally suited to cornerback, moves to boundary corner, which removes Ethan Davis, the starter in last week’s 41-26 loss to the BC Lions, from the roster.

Terrence Frederick, who started nine games in Winnipeg’s defensive backfield last year and was signed as a free agent last week, comes onto the roster as a back-up defensive back.

Otherwise, the defence remains the same as the one picked apart by Lions’ quarterback Travis Lulay. There will be no changes to the offence’s starting dozen…

“It’s what we feel right now is the most competitive group on the field,” Austin said of the secondary. ‘”That doesn’t mean there won’t be more changes going forward. Obviously, we’re still waiting for (injured starting defensive halfbacks)  Abdul  (Kanneh) and Chop (Emanuel Davis) to come back, and that will have a domino effect on the roster.” 

Built for short side?

Lyn, who played indoor football in 2016 but last week made his first start in an outdoor game in nearly four years, stayed on the field by himself for heavy sprints after Tuesday’s practice.

“I’m playing catch-up right now.” says the 6-foot-1, 205-pound 25-year-old out of Syracuse. “I saw enough last week to make me want to work, so I have to get some extra conditioning. I’ve got to be able to go a full game and not feel winded.”

Lyn played the wide side of the field in college ball and in NFL camps, but is more suited to the short side here, he says, because of his body type.

“Boundary corner is where you get most of the throws,” he reasons. “That’s where the standard No. 1 (receiver) is mostly stationary. It’s best for a long guy to press him, so that’s my role in this game.”

 But he’ll probably play quarterback 

Mike Reilly is ranked only sixth in CFL passing yards, but the Eskimos are off to a 3-0 start, despite mounting injuries. Uncannily accurate, Reilly has the second highest completion percentage in the league and hasn’t thrown an interception.

Hamilton defensive end Adrian Tracy, who rushes the passer but also drops off in coverage at time, is well aware of how dangerous Reilly can be.  The Ticats actually controlled him quite well — cumulative 369 passing yards and 56 per cent completion rate– in two home games late last season, including the “eastern’ semifinal, but the Eskimos won each game by three points.

“He’s a dynamic quarterback, he’s a champion, a proven winner, extremely competitive and tough,” Tracy said. “No matter where he is on the field—I don’t care if he lines up at quarterback, wide receiver or offensive lineman—you have to keep your eye on him and make sure you know what his strengths are.”

They didn’t ask but…

Free of charge, here are a couple of suggestions for the Ticats Thursday night: to enable you to stretch the field more with viable throws to Jalen Saunders, use C.O. Prime even more than he has been as a tight end or second blocker in the backfield. It doesn’t help for Zach Collaros to have an extra receiver if he doesn’t have time to be selective.

And stop sending defensive tackle Ted Laurent, on 70-yard trips from the bench to the deep red zone for one or two defensive plays. Of all the defenders, he’s the one whose energy you need to conserve most.

Steve Milton

Steve Milton

Steve Milton is a long-time columnist for the Hamilton Spectator and was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame media wing in 2012.
Steve Milton
Steve Milton
About Steve Milton (173 Articles)
Steve Milton is a long-time columnist for the Hamilton Spectator and was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame media wing in 2012.

13 Comments on Ticats to tweak secondary against Esks

  1. Suuure, Mr. HoF thinks he knows best ‘eh. :-). Nicely done…hope they take it for what it’s worth (alot).

  2. Great article Steve.

  3. David Carswell // July 18, 2017 at 8:21 pm //

    I have been wondering for quite some time now why the TiCats don’t utilize Prime more often for those quick outs when Collaros finds the pocket collapsing or as an added receiver on some plays. He has shown in the past that he can catch the ball and with his size could probably fight his way to some decent YAC yards….

  4. Lindsay Wilcox // July 18, 2017 at 8:47 pm //

    Agree with all the points, also want to see C.O. Prime AND Scheuerman used more in the running game.

    • Used more and when successful … keep doing it instead of assuming it is safe to switch to almost all passing!!!

  5. Sounds like some positive changes – maybe some heat and humidity will help the Ticats and slow down the Eskimos that are not as much used to it (although I realize many of these guys on both sides grew up in the south and this is not that hot to them).

  6. Great points Steve thanks again for your top notch analysis !

  7. Ticat Mike // July 19, 2017 at 7:59 am //

    Great article Steve. Great point that having extra receivers with no time to throw makes little sense. Extra blocking — re-introduction of a FB and/or TE into the offense can work and give the offense more options — blocking/running/short passing game/ screens — all things the Cats rarely do or do well.

  8. Steve, 100% correct re: C.O Prime and Laurent. Get in Austin’s ear hole next media scrum. Doesn’t take a genius to make simple adjustments such as these.

  9. Jeff May // July 19, 2017 at 11:25 am //

    Uh, and run! Just run! Run, run run!! One guy hikes it. The guy that gets it gives it to another guy and he runs! Some big guys block. Try it! All football teams are doing it! You’ll like it. Try it!

  10. Probably a good idea to keep changes to a minimum and only switch out some players. I thought Lyn played qell enough filling it at SAM to warrant another opportunity on the field – this time at CB. Hoping he can get the job done. Looking forward to being at the game too.

  11. rockfish // July 19, 2017 at 12:35 pm //

    Great points Steve. Why has the fullback become almost extinct in the CFL?
    I think having Prime as an extra blocker will give Collaros more time to find an open receiver. Why was Tyms underutilized last game…he’s a big, capable target who has shown what he can do in the past. Stop throwing to Junior Collins all the time!

  12. Hey Rockfish Tyms was playing out of position at the wide out spot. His best position is at one of the slots and he seems to be able to generate yards after catch but someone needs to play Tolliver’s position in the meantime. And Tyms at 6’3″ is more suited to how the wide out is deployed in the CFL. It’s a difficult 40 throw to them and tall guys have an advantage that negates the distance because most DBs in the CFL are 5’8″/5’9.” That’s why Tolliver was so successful using his 6’5″ height advantage. Jr. Collins is knee high to a grasshopper and therefore plays the slot. He is versatile which is why Austin likes him but is he any good…well that’s a matter for debate. I can understand why Tyms would be upset because at the wide spot he doesn’t get hands on the ball enough but as above his versatile ability to play the wide out makes him more employable in Austin’s system.

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