MILTON: Despite a lack of golden opportunities, Ticats offence is thriving

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.

Zero.

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.

* * *

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.

***

Steve Milton

Steve Milton

Steve Milton is a long-time columnist for the Hamilton Spectator and was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame media wing in 2012.
Steve Milton
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Steve Milton
About Steve Milton (194 Articles)
Steve Milton is a long-time columnist for the Hamilton Spectator and was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame media wing in 2012.

17 Comments on MILTON: Despite a lack of golden opportunities, Ticats offence is thriving

  1. Drew’s Dirty Beard // July 4, 2018 at 9:18 am //

    I absolutely love that DB the DB added “Sr” to his jersey… for his baby boy to have the “Jr”. I look forward to him coming up for a game and/or seeing a pic in a custom jersey onesie with his name across the back.

  2. When you have a defence swarming to the ball like Hamilton is, the turnovers will come. The offence will only get better as we finish more drives. As well as the O has played, they’ve left a lot of points out there! Banks isn’t the answer for the return game. Not that he can’t do it, they need him to focus on offensive production. The fact the return game isn’t busting is not a problem, as long as they’re not getting busted and giving up big plays. A tie on special teams is fine. Maybe a bit more directional punting from “the Hire.” He’s great everywhere else.

  3. I think the primary reason that the Ticats have not started on the opposition side of the field has been the strength of the opposition so far and that their offences did not cough up the ball – I think Glanville’s defence will be ball-hawks if the opportunities present themselves.

  4. The return and cover teams looked great preseason. They have played 3 teams in regular season with good canadian talent which equals good SP’s.

  5. Masoli is not exceeding my expectations i knew this giuy had it all along just needed the opportinity to be the guy ! Howsare should be a fine replacement for tracy .

  6. Tiger man // July 4, 2018 at 10:47 am //

    This stat not only speaks well for the offense, but ball and clock control as well, if they are taking long drives from these field positions.

    The longer you hold onto the football the less time you are handing over to your opponent.

  7. I am impressed with Hamilton’s offense so far. They seem to have a head start on the other teams in the East division, and might be hard to catch.

    • Cat Fan // July 4, 2018 at 12:05 pm //

      Not sure it is so much about a head start as it is having many choices to avoid being one dimensional aka pass happy.

  8. Ticats are looking great and I’m an Argo fan. Yes, it’s very early, but right now I would pick them to finish first in the east. The coaching staff has done a great job installing an offence that complements Masoli’s talents. He’s getting great protection and when he can’t find a receiver he has the ability to scramble and ad lib plays. Defence is solid. Cat fans should be very happy this season. By the way, I heard the TSN game caller (forgot who it was) refer to this offence as the run-and-shoot. I saw the run-and-shoot with the Argos under Mouse Davis in 1982 and believe me, Ticats are not using pure run-and-shoot. In this offence, Condredge Holloway would roll out on almost every play and fire a quick pass. It was tough on the QB, who absorbed a lot of hits, but with the right QB it’s almost unstoppable. The offence also featured all kinds of confusing backfield motion. The running back becomes another receiver and seldom carries the ball. One note about the Argos. They look terrible. Marc Trestman must find a solution to poor offensive line play and a deep passing threat to replace Devier Posey. No running game, no passing game and a leaky defence. Even the Als are looking better. Good news is with Trestman as coach the team will only get better but that’s dependent on the uncertain QB situation.

  9. I was worried about that shot on Tracy. Looked like his arm was the wrong damned way, but from up in my seats, maybe that wasn’t me seeing things correctly. Any word on when Adrian’s going to be back, or what all is wrong with him?

    I’m very happy with the team’s performance thus far. If a play or two in Calgary went differently, this team is 3-0 instead of 2-1. And this is apparently with a ‘questionable’ field position game. Man, imagine if they iron that out too…

  10. “Ticats are HUMMING” and will only get better. As good as they’ve been, most fans, and for sure the players, see areas where they can still improve. Still they have been impressive through the first three weeks and getting off to a great start is never a bad idea! Keep it rolling team! Another road win in Sask and then a week off to relax and heal a bit.

  11. David Tress // July 4, 2018 at 1:39 pm //

    There’s still some room there to put Johnny Manziel in for some plays. Sitting him on the bench is upsetting thousands of fans and the only way to mitigate that would be a trade.

    • Steve J. // July 4, 2018 at 2:32 pm //

      You’re hilarious, Dave! Keep those funny comments coming. We all could use a good chuckle now and then.

  12. Use Manziel in 3rd and short situations, like most CFL teams do.

  13. Toliver is the ingredient that makes the offensive cake rise when Jerry summons it.Having all smurf-like receivers puts demands on Masoli to be even a more accurate passer than Reilly and Mitchell.

    If Jerry gets a lead on the Rough Riders in the coming days you can bet the store on seeing Johnny and he will score.

  14. David Tress.. NFL wants to see how John responds to sitting behind a top QB in a league such as Masoli, Brees, or Brady. Coach June, John, and his agent know this. If he plays he can get hurt or suck. His handlers dont want him to play. Cats have a low cost insurance policy. Franklin makes double.

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