It comes as a shock to the two men most responsible for overcoming it, but the Hamilton Tiger-Cats have a really bizarre number on their season stat line.
Of the Tiger-Cats’ 40 total offensive series over their first three games, not one of them has started on the other team’s side of centre field. Every time Jeremiah Masoli’s outfit has come onto the field, it’s been to their own side of the 55-yard line.
Every other CFL offence has started in the other team’s end at least twice this year, while Montreal’s offence has been afforded eight opportunities on the better side of midfield, and Calgary’s offence has enjoyed seven such chances.
Yet the Ticats’ offence has still manufactured nine touchdown drives, second in the league to Edmonton’s 11. (The Esks have started four drives in the other team’s end, but haven’t scored a major on any of them).
“That’s crazy,” said quarterback Jeremiah Masoli. “I had no idea, I’ve never thought about that. Hopefully, we can get a couple on that side soon.”
The quirky stat is partly explained by Hamilton creating only four turnovers, compared to the nine by Calgary and six by Montreal. Opposing teams have often punted deep into the Hamilton end, and the Ticats’ return average is also in the bottom third of the league.
“It’s surprising,” Jones said. “I wouldn’t have known. Turnovers are No. 1, I guess. And we haven’t had the big returns yet.
“But that says a lot about our offence.”
Indeed, it does.
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For the second straight Tuesday, Jeremiah Masoli was named one of the CFL’s Performers of the Week. After being chosen No. 3 for his June 22 work in Edmonton, the Tiger-Cat quarterback was selected as the second top CFLer in last weekend’s slate of games, behind former teammate CJ Gable, now in the Edmonton Eskimo backfield, and ahead of Montreal kicker Boris Bede.
Masoli completed 31 of his 41 passes for 369 yards and a touchdown in Friday’s 31-17 home opener win over Winnipeg. He leads the league with 1,045 passing yards and has carried the ball 11 times for 77 more yards, and a touchdown. He’s the only CFLer with two Performer of the Week nods in this young season.
He deflected the accolades toward his teammates and said, “We definitely feel confident, it’s just hard work paying off for us. It’s still super early, we have to keep putting in the work, but having great weeks of practice is going to set us up for success.”
If Masoli throws for 300 or more yards in Thursday’s game against Saskatchewan Roughriders at Regina’s Mosaic Field, he’ll match the league record (nine) for consecutive 300-yard games held by Sam Etcheverry and Kent Austin, Masoli’s former coach.
The team will be without defensive end Adrian Tracy when they take on the Riders on Thursday and could be missing defensive back Richard Leonard for the second straight game.
“I don’t think Tracy is going to make it. Leonard, I’m still hoping but we’re going to kind of wait until the last minute,” Jones said.
Meanwhile, Canadian running back Sean Thomas-Erlington appears ready to go while receiver Luke Tasker participated in individual drills but not team session this week.
Look for American Julian Howsare to move into Tracy’s depth spot.
* * *
When they break for their first of three bye weeks after Thursday night’s visit to Saskatchewan, the Tiger-Cats will have played against only Western conference teams in their first four games.
They’re 2-1 so far, already equalling the number of wins they had against the West Division in each of the last two full seasons. They still have five games remaining in 2018 against the other conference.
Over the last eight seasons, Hamilton has won two or fewer games against the West five times.
* * *
Shutdown cornerback Delvin Breaux had “Breaux Sr.” stitched onto the nameplate on the back of his No. 24 jersey before last week’s home opener. Delvin Jr. (DJ) was born to Breaux and his wife, Kasey, in April 2017. The Ticats have made ‘Breaux Sr.’ his official last name on their roster and website.
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