The Hamilton Tiger-Cats will the last team in the CFL to play a home game this season when they take on the Winnipeg Blue Bombers on Friday night at Tim Hortons Field. Here’s what you need to know.
The storyline for Hamilton: These are two teams with Grey Cup aspirations, although the Bombers are further down that road, going 12-6 last year. They want to make hay against the CFL East, against whom they were 6-2 last year (they split with the Ticats) and play Toronto and Hamilton twice each in their next six games. They’ve already started harvesting with a 56-10 mauling of Montreal last week. The Ticats have some momentum after going 1-1 in Alberta and finishing 6-4 in their final 10 games last year. But all that goes for naught if they can’t start winning regularly at home.
Key roster notes for Hamilton: Returner Frankie Williams moves into field halfback for injured Richard Leonard, which opens up a roster spot for receiver Rashad Lawrence who will return kicks. Rookie national defensive back Jackson Bennett is out, but nationals Jay Langa (DB) and Connor McGough (DE) are back in, as is Randall Evans who will be the backup at SAM linebacker. Those three should really help on special teams.
Key roster notes for Winnipeg: Starting quarterback Matt Nichols is still out after an early June injury that was to sideline him for 4 to 6 weeks, although he’s reportedly ahead of schedule in his recovery. But replacement Chris Streveler has caught everyone’s attention, especially that of June Jones and his defensive coordinator Jerry Glanville. His receiving corps has proven veteran internationals (Adarius Bowman, Weston Dressler, Darvin Adams) and young nationals (Drew Wolitarsky, Nic Demski, Daniel Petermann, Rashaun Simonise). Maurice Leggett gets the start at halfback for the injured Anthony Gaitor which has led to some shuffling in the secondary while Canadian running back Andrew Harris, who missed some practice time this week, is good to go.
Nifty numbers worth knowing
676: Passing yards by Jeremiah Masoli through two games, just 18 behind league leader Mike Reilly.
32: First downs by the Ticats offence last week, the most since they had 33 on July 16, 2010 against…Winnipeg.
31: Combined catches by the Ticats’ Luke Tasker (11), Brandon Banks (10) and Jalen Saunders (10) through two games. That’s the most for any one-team trio in the league, one ahead of Edmonton’s Derel Walker (14), CJ Gable (8) and D’haquille Williams (8).
12: Defensive tackles by Hamilton Tiger-Cats linebacker Larry Dean, tied for third in the league. Montreal’s Henoc Muamba leads with 16.
8: Successful field goals in eight combined attempts by the two kickers who will play Friday night. Winnipeg’s Justin Medlock is 5-for-5, the Ticats’ Lirim Hajrullahu is 3-for-3. Medlock is on a 15-for-15 streak, Hajrullahu is 8 for his last 8.
9: Blue Bombers receivers who caught passes in last week’s 56-10 victory over the Alouettes.
3: Quarterbacks since 1961 who have thrown more touchdown passes in their first two CFL games, than Chris Streveler’s six. They are Joe Zuger (10) for the 1962 Ticats, Jeff Garcia (8) for the 1996 Stampeders and Tom Wilkinson (7) for the 1969 Argos.
37: Percentage of all CFL play calls through two games that have been rush plays.
100: Percentage of teams winning turnover battle this year that have won the game. In the last seven years, the team with the fewer turnovers has won 82.9 per cent of CFL games.
Weather: Clear, 27 degrees, winds out of the Southwest at 25 kn/h.
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