Coming off two straight wins, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats travel to Saskatchewan on Thursday to take on the Roughriders. The Riders are reeling after losing two straight, including a 23-17 defeat at the hands of the Montreal Alouettes last week at Mosaic Stadium. Here’s what you need to know:
Hamilton Tiger-Cats (2-1) at Saskatchewan Roughriders (1-2)
Thursday, July 5, 9 p.m. (EST)
TV: TSN Radio: TSN 1150
The Storyline: Just a few weeks ago, many CFL observers anticipated this game would be the tale of two quarterbacks and in a way it still is. Only, it’s not Johnny Manziel vs. Zach Collaros. Jeremiah Masoli, the man who replaced Collaros in Hamilton, has been a one-man antidote for Manziel Mania. He has earned one of the league’s Top Monthly Performer awards for the opening month and is looking for his CFL-record-tying ninth straight 300-yard passing game. Meanwhile, Collaros is out with a concussion and Canadian Brandon Bridge gets his second straight start. He threw for three majors against Hamilton last year as the Riders took both 2017 games by building 17-0 leads. The Ticats need to avoid a repeat of that kind of deficit. The Riders, meanwhile need to avoid not scoring touchdowns. (Their offence has only three). If the Ticats go to 3-1 and the Riders fall to 1-3, the quarterback matchup won’t be the only pre-season prediction CFL pundits got wrong.
Key Hamilton Roster Notes: For the second straight week, Hamilton makes only one change in its starting 24 offensive and defensive players. Defensive end Adrian Tracy had a sack and three tackles before he was injured early against Winnipeg and is out. First-year Ticat Julian Howsare finished against the Bombers, and will start Thursday. Field side defensive halfback Richard Leonard is still out with nagging injuries and Frankie Williams repeats there. John White, the former CFL all-star running back with Edmonton, has recovered from the ACL that ended his 2017 season, and is on the active roster. Mariel Cooper comes on for Randall Evans as back up at SAM linebacker.
Key Saskatchewan Roster Notes: The biggie is the absence of Zach Collaros, who suffered a concussion against Ottawa two weeks ago and is on the six-game injury list. Neither Brandon Bridge, who starts again nor David Watford, who relieved last week, has been effective. They’re also not being protected very well. Takoby Cofield moves in at backup offensive lineman for Jarvis Harrison. The Riders recently signed guard Braden Schram – drafted 13th overall by the Ticats last year, but released last week – but he is still on the practice roster. So is defensive back Matt Elam, a first-round choice of the NFL’s Baltimore Ravens in 2013. He made 26 NFL starts but has had injury and legal problems. The Riders signed him earlier this week. Former Mac kicker Tyler Crapigna is out with season-ending surgery. Brett Lauther, who kicked six field goals in four 2013 games with the Ticats, has replaced him.
Nifty Numbers Worth Knowing
0: points the Ticats have scored off turnovers this season. Their four turnovers created are second last in the CFL to Toronto’s 2.
3: seasons in the last 26 years that one CFL team has had two different Canadians rush for 90 or more yards during that season, as Mercer Timmis and Sean Thomas Erlington have already done this year for Hamilton. Jerome Messam, Jon Cornish and Matt Walter each went over 90 for Calgary during 2015 and Cornish and Walter did it for the Stamps in 2014
4: sacks by Roughriders DE Charleston Hughes, twice as many as any other CFL player.
13: two-and-outs forced on Montreal by the Saskatchewan defence last week, most by a CFL team since September 2013 (Winnipeg, 14)
28: first-quarter points scored by the Ticats, tops in the league.
32: times Brandon Banks has been targeted for passes, five more than anyone else in the league. His 21 receptions also lead the CFL.
33:37: Ticats’ average time of possession per game, best in the league by 70 seconds over No. 2 Calgary
66: the overall CFL draft spot in which the Ticats selected both Sean Thomas Erlington in 2017 and Nick Parisotto this year. Parisotto is on the active roster, the lowest 2018 draft choice to make a CFL roster, and Thomas Erlington is the only eighth-rounder from last year who’s played both seasons. Receiver Richard Sindani (No. 70) plays for the Stampeders this year and Alouettes fullback Oumar Toure (No. 65) played 13 games last year but was released in June. No other 2017 eighth-rounders have played a CFL game.
66.7: average rushing yardage per game surrendered by the Saskatchewan defence, stingiest in the league by nearly 19 yards per game.
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