The Hamilton Tiger-Cats host the Saskatchewan Roughriders on Thursday night in the second half of a bye-interupted back-to-back. Here’s what you need to know:
Hamilton Tiger-Cats (2-2) vs. Saskatchewan Roughriders (2-2)
Thursday, July 19, 7:30 p.m.
Tim Hortons Field
TV: TSN Radio: TSN 1150
The Storyline: The Ticats have been a trifle green: hexed lately, losing four straight to Saskatchewan – three of them by eight points or fewer : since a 53:7 victory back in August of 2016. This is a rematch not only of the pre-bye-week game in Regina, won by the Riders 18-13, but of Jones vs. Jones, as in offensive coordinator June against defensive coordinator Chris. First-round winner: Chris Jones.
The Riders, unwilling to settle solely upon either Brandon Bridge or David Watford since Zach Collaros was hurt, have trouble scoring offensive touchdowns—CFL individual leader Andrew Harris has one more than Saskatchewan’s entire offence–but they had just enough (one) to win against Hamilton two weeks ago. The Ticats had five field goal attempts and no TDs. Hamilton’s task is to get better starting field position for its offence, through either the bend-don’t-break defence bending a little less, creating more position-impactful turnovers, or unleashing a few good runbacks of punts and/or kickoffs. And the offence has to be better and more creative inside the Riders’ 20-yard line. Much of that will lean on the ability of the Ticats’ extra blocker(s) to anticipate and read, Chris Jones’ unpredictable pressure points.
And watch to see if the Riders continue to employ converted receiver Duron Carter straight-up on Terrence Toliver, and defensive half Ed Gainey guarding Brandon Banks.
Key Roster Notes from Hamilton: DB Richard Leonard returns from injury to field side halfback for the first time since June 22. That moves Frankie Williams to fulltime returner, meaning WR Brandon Banks doesn’t have to share those duties. DE Adrian Tracy will miss a second straight start. Julian Howsare starts again, with Connor McGough getting lots of rotational action at end too. Receiver Luke Tasker is a game-day decision for June Jones, so both he and potential replacement Rashad Lawrence both had to be included on the 46-man roster. Backup SAM linebacker Mariel Cooper comes off the game roster, partly because of the receiver situation and partly because rookie Canadian Jackson Bennett is back from injury. Jerome Couplin III, who played in 16 NFL games, backing up at WILL linebacker, will get a chance to play in his first CFL game and first regular-season game of any kind since 2015.
Key Roster Notes for Saskatchewan: Like the Ticats, the Riders came out of the first game of this back-to-back set fairly healthy and had a bye week to heal various nicks. Their 24-man starting units are intact. One small change: DB Tristan Doughlin (a former Ticat) in for fellow National Makana Henry. Marcus Thigpen, who scored the game-winning TD against the Ticats two weeks ago, played here in 2010-11 and became the first CFL player to score a touchdown in five different ways in the same season, and the Ticats have generally had incredible returner-receivers since then. “It was an honour and privilege to be given the opportunity to play running back, receiver and returner and to watch those guys too,” says Thigpen. “I actually played with Chris Williams here. And now to watch Speedy (Banks) doing his thing, is a definitely a blessing.”
0: players not from Edmonton or Hamilton among CFL’s top five in receiving yardage. Eskimos: D’haquille Williams (1), Derel Walker (2) Kenny Stafford (4); Tiger-Cats: Brandon Banks (3), Jalen Saunders (5). Also the number of Ticat offensive drives started on the other team’s side of centre field.
5: consecutive Ticat games against CFL West teams, the most they’ve ever opened a season with.
5: interceptions Jeremiah Masoli has thrown during his CFL-record-tying 9-game streak of 300 passing yards or more. He’s thrown for 13 touchdowns in that time.
15: number of times Kent Austin was intercepted during his 1991 nine-game streak. He had a whopping 28 touchdown passes.
20: interceptions Sam Etcheverry threw during his 1956 nine-gamer. He threw for 19 touchdowns.
27: the yard-line (their own) at which the average Hamilton offensive drive has started this year. The league average is a team’s own 41-yard line.
31: two-and-outs forced by the Saskatchewan defence, tops in the CFL
38.8: per cent of combined (both teams) second down conversions made in the four games involving the Roughriders this year. In all other CFL games, the conversion rate has been 48.5 per cent
79.1: length in yards of the average Ticat scoring drive, highest in the CFL. The league average is 68.7 yards.
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