Manziel sparks Ticat comeback in final pre-season game

Johnny Manziel saved the Ticats.

That’s an overstatement, to be sure, but one that stays in line with the general tone of the Manziel coverage so far this season as the Hamilton quarterback has attracted intense media scrutiny from both sides of the border.

But Manziel certainly played well in Hamilton’s 30-15 win over the Alouettes in their final exhibition game as he helped the Ticats score 30 straight points in the come-from-behind win.

“I gave him a little bit more out there but he’s still a little bit rusty. He’s a competitor, he knows what’s going on, he sees what’s going on. Bring able to execute it quickly is still not there for him,” head coach June Jones said. “Johnny did what he does, he made some plays.”

It was, however, an inauspicious start for the Ticats as Montreal took an early 14-0 lead. And while it’s certainly true that Hamilton’s line up featured largely back ups – quarterback Jeremiah Masoli, receivers Brandon Banks and Luke Tasker as well as linebacker Simoni Lawrence all sat out – the team still struggled mightily against a Montreal squad that finished 3-15 last season.

Bryant Moniz started for the Ticats at quarterback and was mostly terrible, throwing for 17 yards on three of seven passing with an interception. Hamilton failed to register a first down in the first quarter and had net minus-four yards of offence.

“We were really not doing things well when Byrant was in there so he didn’t have the luxury of going until we were able to correct some stuff,” Jones said. “I think we had the fog of war for a lot of the young kids, had some simple mental mistakes that killed some drives.”

The Hamilton defence, meanwhile surrendered 14 points to a Montreal offence that featured plenty of starters in the early going, including presumptive starting quarterback Drew Willy who threw for 105 yards on 10 of 18 of passing. The Alouettes also missed two field goals.

But Manziel came into the game mid-way through the second quarter and promptly led the Ticats on their first scoring drive, taking advantage of a muffed punt that was recovered by rookie Nick Parisotto and gave the offence good field position.

Manziel went two for two on his opening drive and connected with Alex Green on a three-yard touchdown pass on third down to cut the Alouette lead in half. His presence seemed to energize both the offence and the defence, who played much better after he came into the game.

“It was good. It opened up, I felt like I could have thrown it a second earlier but at the end of the day, if the ball crosses the goal line, it counts. I got it done, it felt good and hopefully, that’s the first of many,” Manziel said afterwards.

But Manziel also fired up the Alouettes. Linebacker Henoc Muamba took a 15-yard penalty after shoving Manziel as he ran out of bounds and defensive end Jamaal Westerman got into the quarterback’s face as he tried to return to the field.

Manziel returned for the third quarter and led the Ticats on back-to-back scoring drives, each leading to Lirim Hajrullahu field goals. The Ticats got a pick-six from Joel Ross and more or less dominated the second half – an encouraging sign after a sloppy performance in the first pre-season loss to Toronto.

Manziel finished with 12 of 20 passing for 88 yards and a touchdown and while his longest completion was just 13 yards, he took more shots down the field in his second pre-season game. He also ran four times for 19 yards and showed much of the athleticism that has excited the Hamilton coaching staff.

“Progress. Any time I’m getting in and getting reps and getting a chance to live reps like they were today, it’s a positive thing. “It’s pre-season and it doesn’t count but it gives us the opportunity to get better every rep and see some things that I haven’t seen,” Manziel said. “By no means is it perfect or close to perfect but there’s some flashes, some things I know and feel comfortable with.

“This is a very competitive game, a game I feel like I can play in, it fits my skillset. With the wider field, there is the ability to extend a couple of these plays.”

Beyond Manziel, there were a couple of other noteworthy performances for the Ticats. Defensive tackle Jason Neill had a strong game in the middle as he looks to earn a roster spot with three tackles and a sack while Canadian Mike Daly had six tackles, including two on special teams, as he works his way back from shoulder surgery.

The injury news wasn’t great, however. Canadian defensive tackle Justin Vaughn was hit hard while blocking on the opening kickoff and did not return while Don Unamba, in the mix for the starting SAM spot, took a knee to the head in the first half.

The Ticats now have until 10 a.m. on Sunday to make their final roster cuts before opening the season next Friday against the Calgary Stampeders.

Notes: Jones offered an update on the future of quarterback Vernon Adams, after saying he was about to be traded on Thursday but for whom a deal has yet to be consummated. “We’ve talked to a couple teams about a trade and kind of put in the hands of his agent and they’re going back and forth as that happens,” Jones said. “I would anticipate that something will happen here soon.”

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 (1519 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.

32 Comments on Manziel sparks Ticat comeback in final pre-season game

  1. Lots of tough choices, especially on D, and with the Nationals. Quinn might lose his spot to Wilkerson on kick returns. Whitlock had a better game. He’s a punishing runner! Manziel’s confidence is contagious – he picks up the whole team, and so far, he’s being a great teamer. Has adjusted to the 20 second play clock real well; not one DoG penalty so far. Has an instinctive feel for where pressure is coming from that can’t be taught, and even though he’s taking too long to find receivers, he’s buying time with his feet. Showing some arm strength; threw a fastball right past Aultman.

    Liking the way Glanville’s defence is playing!

    • He looks like Doug Flutie out there and Flutie took over a year to be confident on a CFL field.
      Manziel playing in only two halves of two games looks confident and could step in as the starter.
      Look out Masoli if you falter.

    • Agree Neil, Mcgough & the back field did a good job!

    • Good point re Manziel sensing the pressure. Noted that last game vs the Argos as well. Kind of like even when the defender isn’t there yet he knows he’s going to be there…if that makes any sense. Not worried about him taking too long to find the receivers as this will come with familiarity.

  2. Manziel looked to be having trouble with his 2nd and 3rd reads. I didn’t see anything from him to super impress me, though I like his confidence Maybe with a bit more playing time he will develop further, but as of now he’s no better than the majority other 2nd sting qb”s around the league

  3. Moncton Ticats fan // June 9, 2018 at 3:32 pm //

    Not a real exciting game but nice to see the Cats get going a bit in the late second quarter. Glad to see Whitlock take a few handoffs and pick up some yards while hanging onto the ball. He is a big strong runner that should help in certain situations. Not sure yet who will be the third QB, but we know who numbers 1 and 2 are. Nervous time now for those hoping to make the cut. Wish all players (on all teams) the best as they wait for the news about their immediate futures.

    • I’d say that Evans is WAY ahead of Moniz, even if he wasn’t facing #1s on defence, in locking down the #3QB position. Moniz just wasn’t good at all.

      • Where's Shultz? // June 9, 2018 at 6:14 pm //

        Evans looked really good for a prospective 3rd stringer. Made good decisions and went through his reads quick.

        Shame there wasn’t a single mention of him in this article. He was 5/6 for 80 or so yards, could have a real future in the CFL.

  4. Excited to see how we fair now that the real games are due to begin!!
    Manziel played very well for a backup. More importantly, he continues to vastly improve.
    QB1 should have a better game against the Stampeders! Go Cats!

  5. Reminding myself it’s only a preseason game…. so I will temper my comments knowing full well the regular season will bring out the real players and the real playbook…

    Al’s 1st string offence looked weak considering they played against a Ticat defence with mostly back ups…

    Likewise Hamilton’s second half performance was much improved when playing against Al’s 2nd and 3rd stringers…

    Johnny Manziel is living up to his advanced billing… showing a commanding presence on the field and in the huddle… has an instinct for avoiding pressure… runs real fast and while scrambling keeps looking downfield for receivers then throws accurately….

    Johnny kept his cool even after those cheap shots from Muamba and Westermann… clearly designed to rattle Johnny Football but it backfired and led to a TD and fired up the Ticats… if the team rallies around Johnny Manziel like they did last year for Jeremiah Masoli then the Ticats should have a good year and a tough decision to make re: the starting QB.

    Other players I was impressed with were Whitlock and Green as RB’s… Rolle at DB and Neill at DT….

    • Temper…perhaps. Don’t know how far back you go Mr. Snake, but I do remember another 1st year TC QB in ’72 who, albeit it was the pre-season, you watched him play and you knew there was something special about him. Same type of elusiveness and uncanny ability to detect pressure. Eerily similar, he also had something to prove… different reasons of course, and thank God that caveman mentality is gone, but you get my drift. And of course proceeded to win the GC that year. Yes I know, there are no Henley’s or Mosca’s on this 2018 edition…still…

  6. i think what people are forgetting is John played a hurry up spread CFL ish style in HS and college. Da B rown s tried to change him to a game manager and he actually got there his last few games before imploding off field. June is making him do his reads but it is more John friendly offence.

  7. bigplay // June 9, 2018 at 4:24 pm //

    I agree Quinn did nothing to impress for the return game not sure even about Wilkerson either Williams had the TD return last week.I would hope the Cats would look at Chandler Worthy looked good last pre-season and in the game against the Cats last week is a 4.2 4.3 40 guy very quick Argos cut earlier in the week not should if he was hurt or not.

  8. I’m glad the pre-season is officially over. I’m really looking forward to game 1 in Calgary next Saturday.

  9. Thankfully two of the problems that plagued the team in their first preseason game were turnovers and penalties. The only turnover today was the interception by Moniz. And I can’t say that I recall many penalties at all. Not giving your opponent free yards us always a positive.
    Our backups were in tough early on against their starters but they got better as the game went on. A much more encouraging result as they close out their preseason.

  10. Sorry want to correct that first sentence above. Turnovers and penalties which were an issue last week were thankfully absent for the most part in this game.

  11. Lindsay Wilcox // June 9, 2018 at 5:24 pm //

    Now the real season. The FIRST time Masoli is unable to finish a drive, or throws an INT, or fumbles, the Manziel fans will be screaming for him (Manziel). Will they change to calling for Masoli if Manziel isn’t instantly the all-time greatest CFL player, or will they look for excuses – the coaching, the game plan, the O-line, the lack of a blocking RB/FB, the pressure of TSN/U.S. sports coverage, the wind, the position of the sun?
    I just want the Ticats to be a successful organization, and especially on the field.

    • fans are like shareholders they sell when performance goes down. We are the people who hold players accountable. Otherwise they would not try. Our criticism is necessary.

  12. Ticats now head to Calgary where they got beat 60-1 last year. Based on what I saw today it could be this bad or worse. Every player should be studying film tomorrow because they can’t waste a second to get ready for the Stamps. I saw guys too slow. I saw guys miss tackles. I saw guys miss blocks. I saw guys run wrong patterns. I saw guys drop balls. Calgary won’t make these mistakes. Calgary is focused, angry and ready to to rip the meat off of any team that comes West!!!

    • Where's Shultz? // June 9, 2018 at 6:20 pm //

      Collaros and Austin lost 60-1 to the Stamps.

      June Jones and Masoli were a (justified) PI call away from forcing overtime. Masoli led a great late 4th quarter drive that tied the game. This was before Calgary had clinched 1st in the west so they were playing full-tilt.

      • Agree. Different coach, QB, and more importantly, attitude this time around. Hopefully Stephen learned from that BS PI and moved on.

    • Sea of Dead // June 9, 2018 at 9:16 pm //

      A tough way to start the season playing in Calgary against a fine tuned ‘regular season’ football machine like the Stamps. Hoping the Cats can keep it close for most of the game. That game, in any case, will show how far the Cats are from being a real contender. A Cat win in Calgary would be truly wonderful but alas I am a realist … Cat history suggests it won’t but sure would be nice if they ended that McMahon jinx.

      • Law of averages also suggests TC’s are due to win at McMahon, my SoD friend. The irony in this is if in fact the Stumps end up trying to keep it close!

  13. Sun always shines at McMahon // June 9, 2018 at 7:00 pm //

    I’ve never been so excited to see the Ti-Cats come to Calgary.
    Will Calgary win? Yeah of course, but it’s not going to be 60-1
    more like 59-2 ..LOL
    Seriously, it will come down to the last 5 minutes I believe.

    • Tom Petty (RIP) had a song with the lyrics: “…even the losers, get lucky sometimes”. Don’t be shocked if the TC’s get lucky June 16th.

  14. So Muamba admits he went after his legs out of bounds. Cheap shot. He never got hurt but what if he did? The guy that bumped him after that dirty shot shoulda got another 15 yds. I have seen less called.

    • Stu Cats // June 9, 2018 at 7:39 pm //

      Muamba is a piece of $hit who has tried out for many NFL and CFL teams and just can’t seem to stay with one team for more than one season.

      He is jealous of Johnny and Chip Cox probably taught him that cheap shot move.

      Enjoy last place Al’s!

    • Muamba at least “appeared” to be finishing the play (too late though it was, and he could have held up)

      Westerman was just being a dick.

  15. Moniz did not look comfortable at all. Had to give him a chance to show what he’s capable of though.

    Manziel played very well. I’d have liked to see a stronger long game, and they tried a few times but couldn’t connect.

    The offense has been so much more balanced under Jones though, which bodes well again. Liked what I saw from Green and Thomas-Erlington, and I’m glad Whitlock found his hands again. The running game will be strong.

    Defensively, with so many starters out it’s hard to say much but despite a poor showing vs. Willy and the Als’ starters they did hold Montreal to 15 pts and took the turnover opportunities.

    Regular season is so much different than pre-season though. The true test of strength for this team comes on June 16 and 22 against two of the best. Show well against them, even if in a loss, and I’ll feel confident about the 2018 Ticats.

  16. Henoc is an overrated, over paid bum. I put my comments about him in Scratching Post 2015 after the Colts gave him the boot, hoping TC’s would not sign him. I remember getting chastised by others: “Oh, Philski, he’s a ratio buster, blah, blah, blah”. I give credit to Johnny for having the restraint to not slug him after that cheap shot. Because sure as hell I would have if I was him.

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