Ticats count on seismic changes for first win

There’s no such thing as a simple fix when a team is 0-6, but let’s try it anyway: the Hamilton Tiger-Cats are a team that needs a little more intensity on the field and a little less intensity off it.

This is, of course, a gross oversimplification. Ticats head coach Kent Austin was asked to identify “one or two” keys to victory against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers on Saturday night at Tim Hortons Field. He gave an answer that went on for nearly two minutes and touched on, conservatively, eight different themes — and didn’t include old chestnuts like winning the turnover battle and getting pressure on the quarterback (which they also need to do.)

This has been a week of seismic change for the Ticats, some of them designed to deal with the simple things and others aimed at the deeper, more complex issues.

New assistant head coach June Jones has taken a lead role in game-planning, spending plenty of time with the quarterbacks and receivers. Austin said the play-calling duties will remain with offensive co-ordinator Stefan Ptaszek, who has handled them for much of the season, but will be done with “a lot of input” from Jones.

While Jones brings plenty of experience to the table — he has more than 25 years in coaching and is considered one of the godfather’s of modern offensive football — it may be his relentlessly positive approach that is most beneficial to a team still hanging out with “Owen.”

Austin’s intensity is on full display on most game days and Ptaszek is also wired pretty tight. Even former defensive co-ordinator Jeff Reinebold, for all his Aloha-ness, coached with a certain focused energy, both on the sidelines and behind the scenes. The loss of former co-ordinators Tommy Condell and Orlondo Steinauer — both relentlessly positive guys — robbed the Ticats of a certain equilibrium that the arrival of Jones and promotion of new DC Phillip Lolley may have restored.

“The first thing that strikes you about June is that he’s relaxed. He’s not a stressed out guy, he’s just going to talk offence and it seems like he really enjoys doing that,” said receiver Luke Tasker. “When you’re losing, you try hard not to grind and force things and get all stressed out. But it’s inevitable, so his level of calmness about the game is helpful.”

If the new coaches have brought a slightly more laid-back vibe, some of the players the Ticats have added to the roster this week are bound to bring a certain amount of swagger. Canadian safety Craig Butler will play in his first game in more than a year and half, after recovering from a knee injury; while veteran defensive back Emanuel Davis will get his first start of the season after recovering from hamstring issues.

Davis is mild-mannered in his dealings with the media, but talks his share of smack on the field and hopes to bring a beleaguered secondary a jolt of energy.

“A little bit of an attitude. Veteran status, a guy that’s been out there, that knows the game, settling down the young guys in the crucial moments,” Davis said. “A level head and a little bit of experience … and a couple of picks.”

Butler’s road back has been a difficult one, and the former all-star safety will ease himself back into the line up primarily as a special-teams player on Saturday. There’s a warm-and-fuzzy storyline involving overcoming adversity, personal tragedy and perseverance. But Butler — who has is no doubt aware of the social media “experts” who wondered if his career was over — isn’t interested in any of that.

“It’s my job, my career, my passion. It’s what I love to do. If I didn’t love to do it, I wouldn’t have worked so hard to get to where I am. I’m ready to be that guy again,” he said.

“I’m sure you guys had those worries, but I never doubted myself. Ever.

“I’m here to win a football game. It’s not about me, it’s about beating Winnipeg and being 1-6. That’s it.”

Sounds simple enough.

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.
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Drew Edwards
About Drew Edwards (1193 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.

38 Comments on Ticats count on seismic changes for first win

  1. Angelo Bruno // August 12, 2017 at 9:17 am //

    Yeah Drew … I’m one of those “social media experts” who says that Butler will not be the same player he was pre-injury. I expect him to bumble through the rest of this season & then be released in the off-season. On a more positive note, Dave Naylor has brought some sanity to the John Manziel debate, suggesting it would be wise for the TiCats to bring him in ASAP so that he can learn the system
    & helm this team next year. But I’m sure that there are readers who know more & have more insight than Naylor, who would suggest otherwise. Collaros better start performing or the gig is up for him.

  2. Staying with the “glass is half full”…. this team started the season with three all star DBs on IR… now we’re getting two of them back… that’s got to help…

    June Jones has seen it all… there isn’t a defence out there that he doesn’t know how to exploit it’s weaknesses… I expect to see more quick passes to Gable out of backfield, moving Collaros out of pocket on designed rollouts and more counterpunches when a DC wants to get all blitz happy… and maybe a few timely draws and traps to keep the DL and LBs off balance…

    Don’t believe what they say… Jones will be calling the plays… you can’t coach by committee on game day so the alpha dog needs to step up and lead the pack… on offence that will be June Jones…

    Hard to believe but Ticats can still win the East division… Argos are sinking without Ray and Als defence relies on dirty plays from Hebert and Cox… the real contenders in the East are Ticats and RBs…

    Ticats will win their first of the year tonight…

    • Thanks again, Snake!
      I agree with your “glass is half-full” attitude. What’s the point on getting down? If you’re going to support a team, enjoy the ride.

      The return of Davis and Butler will prove to be the difference-maker.

      Any and all hopes for Manziel is just useless. Unless he shows some initiative and reaches out to the Ticats, there is no reason to wait.

  3. Angelo Bruno // August 12, 2017 at 9:44 am //

    Snake, again you try to be the voice of reason on this forum, but fail miserably … you begin your misguided rant with a forensic analysis of the injuries the TiCats sustained this season & then imply those injuries are a contributing factor to the losses Hamilton have this year … will you please apply your goofy logic to the Eskimos of Edmonton … ??? This season will be defined by the arrival of Johnny Football & the excitement he will bring. When Manziel arrives to SteelTown, the empty seats at Tim Hortons Field will have butts in them.

  4. Yes because a guy with a drug and alcohol problem that had a 2-6 pro record and has been out of football for 2 plus seasons that wants to play in the NFL but no one there will touch him with a ten foot pole will put butts in the seats. Hey why not get Casey Printers back, yah that should work Angelo! At least Snake is some one positive christ the way you talk Ticats fans have no hope and we should just give up and end it know. Thank god guys like you have nothing to do with the team! Oh and as for Butler, players come back from injuries all the time it’s mostly a mindset. Look at SJ Green! I myself will stick with Zach, guy was MVP before the injury and right now he just needs to find some confidence. Its a good thing there are fans like you Angelo to support the team.

    • Angelo Bruno // August 12, 2017 at 12:14 pm //

      Garney, your comments about the lack of interest the Manziel signing would create not only in Hamilton, but the CFL are as ridiculous as your goofy name implies. If there is no interest or intrigue in the Manziel situation then TSN must not know what they are doing.

  5. Solara2000 // August 12, 2017 at 11:15 am //

    Pulleeeze! Enough of the Johnny Football saviour talk. This club has been so screwed up that Tom Brady, Aaron Rogers and Ben Roethlisberger couldn’t have made much of a difference.

  6. Good article, Drew.
    We all have to remember that the players are young kids and easily influenced by the body language of their coaches. Balancing the “tension” guys with positive coaches has to help.
    This is the first game of the season and the playoffs are not out of reach by any means.
    No more personnel changes needed at this point – let’s move forward with some stability and put together an 8-4 (or better) finish (8-10 should make the playoffs in the East, maybe first place!)

  7. I agree with you Barney. I have never understood the hype about Manziel. Why you would ever want to go from a proven QB in Zach, and then move on with an unproven, no experience CFL player is beyond me. Especially since our league is a QB driven league. I know Zach has had his issues since his injury…but all the jokers and arm chair quarterbacks saying it’s time to bring in a guy like Manziel…thats just crazy talk…didn’t we just get rid of a player because of his attitude issues? What’s the hurry then to bring in a guy like Manziel…

    And to those who like to chronically bash our CFL…just ask Warren Moon what it took to make him into the QB he eventually became…partly was because he took the time on the bench in the CFL to learn, and that made him appreciate his role on a team all that much more once he got his chance here and then eventually back in the NFL

    • Sorry, Garney – stupid autocorrect

    • Angelo Bruno // August 12, 2017 at 12:16 pm //

      Nick, can you provide any quotes re. those “who like to chronically bash our CFL.” Please stay on topic dude and don’t things so personally. Also, do you own shares in the CFL ??? If not, how is the league yours as your’s as your silly comment would imply ???

  8. Angelo Bruno // August 12, 2017 at 11:37 am //

    Manziel will play QB for the Hamilton’s TigerCats – this will happen as certain as the sun sets at night & rises in the morning.

    • Angelo dear, Johnnys my man too.

    • Two names to consider while you’re hyping up “Johnny Football”; Timm Rosenbach and Vince Ferragamo. I strongly suggest looking them up, in particular, their I’ll advised forays into CFL football.

  9. Great to have Butler back and this on its own beyond all other things going on has to give the team a lift. Too many people on this forum are negative about people that clean themselves up and deserve a second chance. Johnny Manziel will be signed whether people like it or not as it is on the best interest of the Ticats to do so. I for one am very excited to see what he can do if given a chance and the plus of all of this is that it will bring out the best in Collaros as he will know that finally there is some real competition for him here in Hamilton. Go Cats Go!

    • Angelo Bruno // August 12, 2017 at 11:43 am //

      Well said Ari, I hope you are not wrongly chastised as I unfairly have been.

      • It should be no surprise why some people are dead set against Manziel.

        I’m not convinced he’d do very well or fit here, but I’m all for giving players a chance, so if he wanted to sign here I’d like to see it.

        I don’t see why you think you’re being treated unfairly – on this issue the debate is far from over. Perhaps you should take your own advice not to take things personally.

  10. Angelo Bruno // August 12, 2017 at 11:42 am //

    Did you guys read John Hodge’s 3DownNation article comparing Zach Collaros to Khari Jones ??? Hard to argue against the guys’ science & statistical comparisons. Collaros did have a chance, but injury and his lack of mental fortitude conspired against him. Even more reason to sign Johnny Football & quick !!! Collaros is damaged goods.

  11. Maybe there is to much breaking down going on!! Dont make it to complicated. Throw the first 6 games out the window. Get back to playing hard nose basic football. Go back to having fun. Even though your 0-6. Oh well what are you going to do. Move on. Don’t harp on the past! Just play some football!

    Go Cats Go

  12. Lindsay Wilcox // August 12, 2017 at 12:03 pm //

    IF Manziel were to sign with Ticats, I expect he would demand/command starting QB salary level of Collaros, about $ half a mill per season, and Ticats would have to cut Collaros same day. There would be no veteran to help him like Calvillo had in Montreal.

    I expect Collaros will roll out more as Ticat coaches regain confidence in his NOT getting injured seriously again. And Masoli is better than “adequate” as a back-up for Collaros. June Jones, please remember the “run” part of the “run and shoot”, Ticats have 2 good RB and FB.

    • Angelo Bruno // August 12, 2017 at 12:10 pm //

      You don’t think Masoli could help Manziel with the nuances of the CFL game ??? Crazy the salary Collaros is getting, certainly not commensurate with his play on field. Wonder if Bo Levi Mitchell or Mike Reilly are paid as much. No matter, once Manziel is signed, the TiCats will trade Collaros to the highest bidder !!!

  13. Angelo I don’t agree that Collaros will be traded if Manziel is signed. Collaros is a historical slow startet and I for one feel that he may be better coming in off the bench. Collaros is the quarterback for the rest of this year even if Manziel comes in but I do believe that Collaros will accept a pay cut and next year will compete with Manziel for the starting position and if Manziel becomes the first string quarterback, Collaros will be the backup. Pay specific attention to Zach’s historical first quarter performance which is causing us to get behind in games and play catchup. To me, he is a better quarterback off the bench and that is why I feel he will remain here but possibly in a backup position. To the best of my knowledge Mazoli is only signed to the end of this year.

    • Angelo Bruno // August 12, 2017 at 12:57 pm //

      Your points are valid; however, I’m not sure that Collaros will accept a pay cut to stay in Hamilton. And if he were to stay in Hamilton, I doubt it would be as a back-up QB. I hope that Manziel can start a couple of games before the end of this season and let the better QB win the starting job next year.

  14. Angelo is crazy!

  15. Just went on line and seeing everyone trying to resell there ticats tickets!!! LOL!!

  16. Troll Police // August 12, 2017 at 12:46 pm //

    Wow Bruno… you’ve made 8 of the 18 comments on this blog… you might even be arguing with yourself…

    Guess you’re getting lonely living in your mama’s basement…

  17. MA78’s comments are exactly why Bob Young and the Ticats will make the Manziel splash. Nobody on this forum should want to see empty seats at Tim Hortons Field. Empty Seats talk right into Bob Young’s pocket book as “money talks”. Sign Manziel Bob sooner rather than later to limit the damage that should never have taken place in the first place.

  18. Signing Manziel would be a Glieberman-esque mistake. Trying to fill seats with star power lasts for a short time but fades pretty quick once wins don’t follow.

    The first thing to remember about sports analysis…writers are paid to write, talking heads are paid to look good and talk but none of them earn their living from being right. Its the GMs, coaches, scouts, bookies and professional gamblers whose opinions matter. They are earning a living not from just having opinions but having CORRECT opinions. And what the football establishment south of the border is telling us loud and clear is they want no part of Manziel. We shouldn’t either.

  19. Just drove by stadium and the guy on the corner has a stack of hard tickets 6″ thick selling $97 tickets for $25 and upper deck centre for $20

  20. Another announced stadium sell out… capacity crowd again… LOL… been seeing many empty seats at every game…

  21. Funny how not once did anyone mention that…if you do not have a strong O line…I don’t care what quarterback you have…you will not have success . Zach will be just fine if he is not running for his life every play. We will see how they will do with a new tackle they signed. Tonight could be the start of a new season for the Cats. Austin talked about the offence needing to move the ball…and start winning field position. I think we will see the Ticat team we thought we would see at the start of the season. Best of luck to the Tabbies tonight. Go Cats go..

    • Thanks for level-setting things GUBS.
      Tonight’s game is the start of the Second Ticats Season with a hopefully much improved (i.e. better coaching decisions and player confidence to execute on those decisions) perforance and a convincing win over the ‘Peg.
      Wins, not some failed NFL QB, will fill the seats for Bob.

  22. Speedsters Aultman and Saunders can deliver the wins and are the change the Cats have been looking for.Plus some o-line steadfastness.Go Cats with the shield of the CFL greats.

  23. Alex Droho // August 12, 2017 at 5:55 pm //

    Cats need to win tonight even if to just ease the tension on this board. Agree with Snake. Cats get their first win of the season tonight then go undefeated for the rest of the season and ultimately win the Grey Cup and become a CFL league dynasty for the next ten years…..ok so maybe not ……..but hopefully they get the win tonight. Go Cats!

  24. OK, Snake..have a nice day…and don’t forget to take your rose coloured glasses and pom poms with ya!

  25. Angelo, we are not getting a lush for a Quarterback ok? We got enough problems with Kent Austin’s apparent alcoholism.

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