The highs and lows of the Ticats’ pre-season win over the Alouettes

The Ticats closed out the pre-season Saturday with a 30-15 win over the Montreal Alouettes. It as an up-and-down game as the team got off to another slow start, but fought their way back by scoring 30 of the game’s final 31 points and somewhat cruising to victory.

Let’s take a look at the highs and lows from the game.

High: Sorry haters, Johnny Football can play

I know a lot of people don’t want to hear it, but it is impossible to ignore: Johnny Manziel has looked pretty darn good in his two games in the CFL.

No, he is nowhere near ready to compete for the starting job, but in going 12 of 20 for 88 yards and a touchdown in this one (to add to his 9-of-11, 80-yard performance against the Argos) Johnny Football has shown he has the chops to play in the CFL and play well.

Sure, all the caveats are there: it was pre-season, it was against Montreal’s second unit, etc. But be honest: if I would have set the over/under on Manziel’s total stats for the pre-season at 65 per cent passing, 150.5 yards and 0.5 touchdowns, you probably would have taken the under on all of them, expect maybe the TDs. So for Manizel to go 21 of 31 for 168 yards and a touchdown is about as much as you could ask for from a guy who just arrived in Canada three weeks ago.

Manziel is probably right where he needs to be in his development as a CFL quarterback, and while we probably won’t see him on the field taking meaningful reps for some time, he has done more than enough to prove himself a capable second-string player.

Low: Is it too late to not trade Vernon Adams?

Same caveats apply here, but I’m not sure I’ve seen a worse QB performance in a pre-season game than what we saw out of Bryant Moniz against the Alouettes.

Moniz didn’t get any reps against the Argos, so the team opted to start him against the Als and it was bowling-shoe ugly. Moniz finished three of seven for 17 yards and an interception. The interception was particularly bad as it looked like he stared down his receiver, Shakeir Ryan, and Mitchell White read it the entire way.

Dane Evans didn’t see much action, but he looked a lot better than Moniz did. Evans finished five of six for 65 yards and missed out on a touchdown pass by a few feet. Evans looks like a guy the team will keep around at worst on the practice roster, but given his showing in both games it would not surprise me if he was the team’s No. 3 heading into Calgary next week.

High: Whitlock’s redemption and Hamilton’s commitment to the run

The total rush yards won’t pop out at you, just 85, but the number of carries might: 22. That’s right, folks, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats ran the ball 22 times against the Alouettes, and while four of those came from Johnny Manziel (and none of them were designed), that still means the Ticats handed the ball off 18 times. You can probably count on one hand the amount of times Kent Austin ran the ball 18 times in a game.

Nikita Whitlock also got a measure of redemption after a poor outing against the Argos a week ago. Whitlock only touched the ball four times — two carries for 18 yards, two catches for 14 yards — but the one thing he did not do was turn the ball over. The Ticats as a team only turned it over once, a far cry from the 10 they had a week ago.

Maybe the Whitlock experiment could work after all.

High: Jackson Bennett is a keeper

His name doesn’t show up a lot on the stat sheet, but rookie Jackson Bennett made an impact in this game. He had just one special teams tackle, but he also forced a fumble (and technically gets credit for a sack) and all of those things happened in a three-play span!

Bennett also saw some time at SAM linebacker and for a draft pick playing in his first CFL game (he missed last week’s game with an injury) he did not look out of place. I get the feeling that Bennett is going to be a fan favourite in the Mike Daly (who also had a great game against Montreal) mould before too long.

Low: Injuries bug bites

Hamilton did not leave la belle province unscathed and it was a couple of important players that went down, too.

It was on the opening kickoff when second-year man Justin Vaughn saw his afternoon come to an end. The Fordham product took a hard hit and fell to the turf.

Later in the game, potential SAM linebacker Don Unamba went for a tackle and took a knee to the head. Unamba went on Twitter after the game to ensure fans that he was OK.

The Ticats have been fairly healthy during the pre-season, but seeing two players who will have a role on this team in 2018 go down was tough. Hopefully both will be back sooner rather than later.

Low: Henoc Mumaba’s stupid penalty (and the stupid reason he took it)

Athletes have been known to say some stupid stuff from time to time, but Henoc Muamba’s comments to Didier Orméjuste of RDS to rationalize his late hit on Johnny Manziel might be one of the dumbest I have ever seen.

What? Everyone knows Manziel has a target on his back because of who he is. He knows, players on the other teams know it, fans know it. And I get it, I do, but honestly, has Johnny Manziel said or done anything since signing with the Ticats to warrant being singled out? It’s not his fault the media wants to cover his every move (and if you want to heap blame on this site for a lot of that, so be it).

But it is also really stupid to take a 15-yard penalty to prove a completely useless point. If Johnny Manziel ever does get on the field during the regular season, I’m sure the Ticats will be more than happy to take the free yardage so people like Muamba can show Manziel that they’re here.

Final thoughts

The pre-season is now over and cut-down day looms (as of this writing, the Ticats had not made any cuts). While the Ticats probably don’t have a ton of moves to make regarding their starting lineup, the last two weeks likely went a long way in deciding who will snatch some of the few openings on the roster.

While there is always a surprise or two when it comes to cuts — just look at what is happening in Saskatchewan — I’m not sure Ticats fans will see many familiar names among those who will not be a part of the team in 2018. Anyone who didn’t play against Montreal is likely safe (unless they were injured), so the guys who won’t be Ticats in the regular season likely saw their final action on Saturday. Who those guys are, no one knows, but cut-down day always sucks as some players’ dreams of being pro football players comes to an end.

Once cuts are done, the Ticats will go about starting the preparation for the Stamps, whom they play next Saturday in Calgary. McMahon Stadium has not been kind to the Tabbies over the last decade-plus, with their last win at McMahon coming all the way back in 2004. Can the Ticats break that long losing streak? Believe it or not, we are going to find out very soon.

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.
Josh Smith

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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.

14 Comments on The highs and lows of the Ticats’ pre-season win over the Alouettes

  1. White Horse // June 11, 2018 at 5:03 pm //

    Home page…7 articles on the Riders and 5 on the Cats. Come on. There 9 teams in this league. The Riders keep getting bashed as a result. No one bashes the Cats except Cat fans and a few Argo fans.

    • Rider fans don’t write the articles… Personally I’d like to see some coverage on the 7 other teams too.

    • Valid criticism. 3DN is short contributors in four CFL cities, aside from pickup up external stories about their teams from time to time.

      Current roster:
      Dunk – general CFL coverage
      Edwards, Milton, Smith – Hamilton
      Davis, Gasson – Sask
      Filoso – Ottawa
      Hodge – Winnipeg
      Ullrich – BC

      Hopefully they’ve got more writers on the way. They’ve had a hard time keeping some of them though. If I’m not mistaken the contributors aren’t paid by the site (?), which would make it tougher unless they work for another news outlet that doesn’t mind them posting here.

      • MR. Green // June 11, 2018 at 6:06 pm //

        Calgary also has Ballentine.

        • Right – sorry, I was just going by the “Contributors” page (he’s missing there, but I see he’s done a few recent stories)

          Still missing regular writers for 1/3 of the league, which is unfortunate but hopefully something that will change.

      • The contributors (who aren’t part of the news outlets) are paid a small stipend – at least that’s my understanding. Some of them – life Hodge and Smith – are fans who follow their teams closely and write about them as a hobby.

  2. Filoso covers the Redblacks from Brazil, I think, and he is knowledgeable and does a good job, proving that it is not completely necessary in the internet era to actually live in the city of the team you are covering.

    • Tiger man // June 13, 2018 at 10:50 am //

      Yeah, you just need pom poms and know the fight song….

      And did I say that he’s not at all objective….

  3. Sorry this Johnny hater needs to see more. A total of 168 yards does make a QB. Let’s see a lot more hell I am still not a Jones disciple. Let’s see what we got after 9 games.

  4. True Blue // June 11, 2018 at 9:15 pm //

    Johnny can for sure play and I agree with the thoughts out there that he will be in the 1 spot by the end of the season. His style will fit nicely in our league. Looking forward to seeing him play in Winnipeg (just not too well against us). Hell he’d even be a welcome addition to the Bombers in my opinion.

  5. I realize the football standards are about as low as the public health standards in Hamilton, but it’s embarrassing to be celebrating Manziel’s feeble 4.4yds per attempt last game.

    Especially considering it came against the hopeless Rich Stubler and his CIS calibre defensive schemes.

    • Tiger man // June 13, 2018 at 10:47 am //

      Poor Rich has the over the hill gang to work with…including the clutch and grab pass coverage of Chip Cox.

      Better put engines on those wheel chairs if the Ala defense wants to keep with other offenses in the league….

  6. Tiger man // June 12, 2018 at 9:23 am //

    It was a preseason game and against Montreal, so, yeah, let’s keep the excitement in check.

    I was one who doubted the arrival of Johnny Manziel. His dedication and progression through the process here is to be admired.

    But let’s wait until the regular season and his appearance then before we plan a parade for him.

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