The good, the bad and the ugly (sorry Johnny) from the Ticats win in Montreal

If you scripted the game for the Ticats I’m not sure you could have written a better one for them than the one we saw Friday night in Montreal.

The Cats scored on their opening drive, created a turnover on Montreal’s opening drive (which the offence converted into a touchdown) and scored on a blocked punt all in the game’s first seven or so minutes. By the end of the first quarter the Ticats were up 28-0 and the game was essentially over.

This was a game where the Ticats got a little something from everyone, where they did things they don’t normally do (in a positive way) and while you need to temper excitement because it’s the Als, it is nice to see this team put together a solid performance and blow the doors off a team they should be beating soundly.

This is the Ticats team we saw against Edmonton and Winnipeg back in June. This is the team that we saw at the tail end of the 2017 season. This is the team that had people some predicting Grey Cup berths at the start of the season.

Yes, it was against Montreal, but you can only beat the team in front of you and did the Ticats ever do that on Friday night.

Masoli the good

With one glaring exception (two, really), Jeremiah Masoli was absolutely fantastic against the Alouettes, finishing the game 17 of 26 for 300 yards and two touchdowns, while also rushing for 36 yards on five carries and scampering into the end zone for one score. He was on fire, getting time in the pocket to make his reads and finding open receivers. This is the Jeremiah Masoli that fans expect to see and he was all that and then some on Friday night.

Masoli the bad

Masoli entered the game with a league leading six interceptions on the season, and threw two more to up that to eight. It is the one really concerning part of Masoli’s game, one that many thought he had eliminated after last year’s 3:1 TD-to-INT ration (15 touchdown passes, five interceptions). Masoli has thrown at least one interception in each of the team’s first seven games and it is a trend that needs to end sooner rather than later. When fans and pundits get on Masoli’s back it is because of the turnovers. The elite quarterbacks don’t throw picks and if Masoli wants to reach that upper echelon (he has in pretty much every other aspect of the game) he needs to go back to the player he was in 2017 and eliminate all the turnovers.

The run game finds life

It’s been mentioned many times before but one of the hallmark’s of the Ticats’ offence under June Jones was the ability to establish the run game. In game’s the Ticats win, they run the ball well. In game’s they lose, they don’t. Now whether that is correlation or causation, we can’t say for sure. But what we can say is the Ticats’ run game found life against the Als. Five different ball carriers totted the rock 26 times for 169 yards and three touchdowns on the ground, the leader of which was Alex Green carrying the ball 15 times for 74 yards and two scores. June Jones admitted last week after the loss to Ottawa that he needs to be better calling run plays and he did that on Friday. For the Ticats to continue to have success they need to be able to keep defences guessing. Having a bona fide rushing attack is key to making that a reality.

Jalen Saunders is a beast

After another massive outing, perhaps the rest of the country will finally start to realize just how good Jalen Saunders has been for the Ticats the last season and a half. For anyone to say Saunders is catching people by surprise or that he is having a breakout season means you haven’t been paying attention. Yes, Saunders is showing himself to be one of the league’s very best at his position, but he did that last year with little-to-no fanfare from anyone outside Hamilton. For all the ink that guys like Luke Tasker, Brandon Banks and Terrence Toliver get (and rightly so), Jalen Saunders is putting up not just the best numbers on the team, but some of the best in the league. He had another 150 yards on seven catches against the Als, and he found the end zone for the second time in as many weeks. Saunders is balling out and it’s time every starts recognizing.

Brandon Banks ain’t no slouch either

Brandon Banks and 100-yard games just seem to be the norm. Since being inserted into the receiving corps full time, Banks has reached or surpassed the 100-yard mark in 10 of 17 games. He did it again against Montreal, racking up 114 yards on five catches and one touchdown. Banks long ago shed the label of “just a returner,” but he is no shedding the label of “just a receiver.” Brandon Banks has proven over the last 17 games that he belongs in the conversation among the league’s elite receivers.

Turnovers come in bunches

When it rains is pours sometimes, and for the Ticats’ defence is sure as heck poured turnovers on Friday night. The Ticats entered the game against the Als with an astonishingly low six forced turnovers, including just two interceptions. The floodgates opened against Montreal and the Ticats not only forced six turnovers, but also managed to intercept four passes. The defence as a whole was stellar, allowing just 11 points (which probably should have been just three, but more on that in a second) and limiting Montreal to just 247 yards of offence, but we have seen them dominate like that before and lose. But creating turnovers is where this team has faltered all season. To see them get six in one game, even a game against the lowly Alouettes, is something Ticats fans can be especially happy out.

Two bad calls gives Montreal eight points

So about those 11 points. The Als were given eight of them as a gift from the men in stripes, and while I hate to harp on the referees I just don’t see how (a) that was pass interference on Cariel Brooks and (b) how they didn’t overturn the two-point convert when replay showed the ball very clearly hit the ground. While I don’t for one second believe the refs just have Montreal points to make the fans happy — these guys are professionals, and even if you are going to criticize them (which is fair), there is no way they would ever do something like that — those calls were bad. In a 50-11 game you can kind of let them go, but it’s still a bummer to see the refs and command centre make what looked like obvious errors.

Looking ahead

The Ticats now sit at 3-4, and are just a single game behind the Ottawa Redblacks for first in the East Division after Ottawa’s epic collapse on Thursday night to the Toronto Argonauts. But the road back to .500 is not an easy one as the Ticats will head to Winnipeg to take on a very good Bombers squad.

The Ticats did hand the Bombers a loss all the way back in Week 3, but that was when the Bombers were without their starting QB Matt Nichols. Since starting 1-2 while Nichols was on the shelf, the Bombers have won three of their last four and will come into the game rested after having their first bye of the season in Week 8. Basically, don’t expect any 50-11 victories for the Ticats next week.

But if the Ticats want to get back into the contenders conversation they will need to beat quality teams, and a win in Winnipeg against a very talented Bombers squad would qualify as just that.

Josh Smith

Josh Smith

Josh has been writing about the Ticats and the CFL since 2010 and was sporting his beard way before it was cool. Will be long after, too.
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Josh Smith
About Josh Smith (362 Articles)
Josh has been writing about the Ticats and the CFL since 2010 and was sporting his beard way before it was cool. Will be long after, too.

40 Comments on The good, the bad and the ugly (sorry Johnny) from the Ticats win in Montreal

  1. Masoli was on fire for sure…and one of those interceptions was a tip… not his fault.

  2. Manzeil will be a loser the rest of his career just like he was a flop in the nfl no one wanted him and no one really was fighting to get him in the cfl either,a nd now u see why 4 interceptions lol!

  3. Still way too many penalties…..

  4. The clueless buffoons called the Alouettes ownership would be better off with the clueless duo of Oday/Taman. Riderville thought and still think the world of those two losers.

    • Puck Hog // August 4, 2018 at 1:09 pm //

      @itty.cerebral.process, this story has nothing to do with the Riders, but thanks for the mention.

  5. Blue rules // August 4, 2018 at 1:08 pm //

    11(eleven) TD’S to 4 (four) INT. are great stats…..lol

  6. Paul Smith // August 4, 2018 at 1:17 pm //

    I was at the game. Some of the penalties were very questionable.

  7. David Tress // August 4, 2018 at 1:39 pm //

    Manziel still showed great elusiveness and made a few good passes. Once he gets accustomed to the playbook he will do better.

    • Steve J. // August 4, 2018 at 6:41 pm //

      I agree he will do better, David. He has nowhere to go bit up after that fiasco. Its clear from his debut, though, that he is never going to great like many projected. He may find a place as a decent starter of backup, but his best before date appears to be long past. Greatness in the college ranks does not always translate to success at the next level.

  8. Williams as X (boundary rec) with Banks and saunders and Tasker in slot is dynamic. I would hope to see 85 to 90% of offense in a 5 receiver alignment. Love Tolliver at the Z spot with national RBs rotating in the game but Green made a strong case to stay on roster and continue to get touches. I really like Larry D on the D. Strong center peice. Daly at FS has been playing better than I thought. He is a very servicable national starter and Tracy had a great first quarter at DE. Very disruptive. They are in good shape with two nationals to share the other End. Against a sandlot scrambler like Johnny, I would love to see wither westerman or Justin C move inside and get ,ore athleticism on the edge- like the pressure package with Unamba. Johnny will likely struggle with pressure and blitz packages this entire season. Interior guys have got to be athletic though. I like Laurent but on passing downs, get him off and replaced with one of the national DEs to get a faster front. Masoli had a brilliant first half. I thought he forced a few passes including the INT in the endzone, later in the game. I really like the kid in Mtl who made that pick. He has done a decent job, sometimes excellent at Sam LB and now he is moved to CB which would be tough playing opposite Tommy Campbell. That guy is great so Dozier will see a lot of action his way.

  9. Good win by the Ticats which hopefully has helped them to correct many of the mistakes that plagued them in the three losses and has given their confidence a boost heading into a tough match next week in the ‘Peg. IGF is a tough place to play but the Ticats need the win if they are to keep pace with the OTTRBs who face Johnny and friends next week and probably won’t be blowing any lead that they get in that game!

  10. Looked to me like once Manziel threw his first 2 picks he got rattled (understandable)

    Once the points started mounting he started forcing passes and was looking for highlight reel, comeback passes, rather than throwing for positive yards.

    The rest – as they say, is history.

  11. Mike Reilly has thrown 6 picks. At least three of Masoli’s picks were bounces off his receivers hands.

    • Evil Empire // August 4, 2018 at 6:32 pm //

      @Amicus.

      At least three of Reilly’s picks were tipped by his receivers. Why do you mention Reilly without saying that ? A bit disingenuous, don’t you think ?

      • has not its all reillys fault

      • Evil. Sorry. I referred to Reilly because he represents the current gold standard for QB performance. He’a given up 6 picks and Masoli has given up 8. I was just trying to put the Masoli knockers into perspective.

  12. In 1999 Danny McManus had 28 TDS to 16 int… and won both a Grey Cup and MOP… so maybe we cut Masoli some slack on his interceptions…

    • Correct you are Mr. Snake. If I do recall, coach Lancaster’s response to inquiring media minds was, “pfft”, when asked about Danny’s interceptions…he was winning games…and that’s all that mattered.

  13. grouchee // August 4, 2018 at 3:25 pm //

    Manziel should look at the positive’s from this game. At least he had more tackles than Bowman.

  14. Leonard Cohen // August 4, 2018 at 3:25 pm //

    You can learn a line from a win and a book from a defeat.”
    — Paul Brown
    As long as the loss does not destroy you. Johnny seemed upbeat so he will learn a book.

  15. antoine lussier // August 4, 2018 at 4:06 pm //

    so johnny football threw 4 interceptions–he probably thought he was still a TIGER-Cat–after all his whole 99cfl experience to date had been with the Tabbies.

  16. Masoli will clean up the interceptions. Danny McManus had more INT’s than TD’s in his career and he’s a Hall Of Famer. Like McManus, Masoli’s not afraid to push the ball down the field and pressure defences.

    • Agreed.

      “Gunslinger” QBs tend to be this way. To be otherwise impairs their success.

      DMac had his really off games but even when he was *on* he’d often throw something the opposition caught. Didn’t diminish his overall performance though.

  17. Not much to disagree with in Josh’s wrap-up.

    Saunders has definitely been under-rated. Gets open, makes great catches (even the difficult ones) and plays with some fire. I dare say he’s the best receiver in the East, with all due respect to the Sinopolis and Greens et al. The Ticats missed Tasker but I think they’d miss Saunders a whole lot more if he were out of the lineup.

    Green’s running was strong overall, and he also made some key blocks picking up the extra rusher. It wouldn’t surprise me to see White released, as it’s clear STE and MT can sub (or start).

    The return game still needs work and isn’t consistent. Banks got some action on punts, but the Ticat STs still need to improve.

    Winnipeg will present a great test. Are the Ticats resurgent? Or did they simply take advantage of an opponent who has an advanced degree in lousy?

  18. I thought it was very troubling to see the refs call those 2 late calls for the Als. Ya it didn’t matter, but what about when it does?
    These refs (and the replay booth) are crooked and that showed it.
    What about it Ambrosie? It is the one thing that will bring this league down.
    Wake up!

  19. gocatsgo // August 5, 2018 at 7:12 am //

    While the first PI against Hamilton was bad being PI it gets the discretionary benefit of the doubt however the second call on the 2 point convert was clearly wrong and what was equally strange was the lack of protest by the tan broadcasting team . However when Hamilton challenged a completed pass on the sidelines and won they seemed to be shocked Gamilykn was even challenging the call as they joined the refs in the “ let’s do something to make Montreal fans feel good “ Movement.

  20. Don Dokken // August 5, 2018 at 7:44 am //

    Area 51 pointed out how many talented NCAA and ex pros of multiple leagues are dying to come up here and play for cheap. Just think how much higher the overall talent level in the CFL would be if the restraint of trade ratio was reduced or scrapped? This artificial scarcity of Cana players causes teams to overpay marginal starters and bench warmers. NHL has never had quotas or ratios for Americans despite the fact that 80% plus of teams are in the Usa with Seattle probably next. This free market approach has created more jobs fir everyone including Canadians, Euros as well as Americans. The archaic protection approach (and that means you too Trumpler) has resulted in barely scraping by with Fifa Football outdrawing Cana Football in Toronto with a GC winner.

    • Don, did you ever play Canadian University ball, or were you a Canadian playing at any level south of the border? The ratio is at the heart of the CFL. Where would you like a those kids to play? It’s one of the main reasons that I love the CFL. Comparing it to the NHL is a moot point. Why do the Swedish and Russian hockey leagues do so well? Because people there want to watch their own play. Go watch the NFL if all you want is to watch some Tier 1 Americans play, and quit your whining.

  21. Don Dokken, KUDOS to you for pointed that out. I used to be a season ticket holder, but my principal for sporting entertainment is best players for the job, not players playing because of their passport. Archaic, you nailed it.

  22. Ron Tuthill // August 5, 2018 at 2:42 pm //

    Josh your assessment of the officials was spot on and I would like to add one thing that I noticed. On the scoring drive one of the Montreal receivers was offside but the play was allowed to continue and the receiver caught the ball which resulted in a first down. If he had been called for offside then the play would have been returned to the line of scrimmage minus five yards and Montreal would have had to start all over again and maybe the touchdown doesn’t happen after all.

  23. OSKEE WEE WEE // August 5, 2018 at 8:26 pm //

    The tipped interception was not Masoli’s fault. I always wish that the QB isnt at fault for those. It was a catchable ball.

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