CALGARY — On Saturday, his only off-day of the week, Hamilton Tiger-Cat quarterback Zach Collaros rented a car with some teammates and took the two-hour drive to Lake Louise with some teammates. They checked out the ice-capped mountains, had some laughs and went for a quick swim in the freezing, deep blue water.
“It was good to do it after the loss. Sometimes you have to step away from it a little,” Collaros said.
He also spent some time thinking about Friday’s 24-23 loss to the Calgary Stampeders. Though his numbers were decent – 281 yards on 27 of 38 passing – he threw a critical third-quarter interception that was returned for a touchdown.
“First, you look at yourself and what you could have done better. Obviously, one interception sticks out,” Collaros said. “Then you think about what else you could have done to help other people during the week with their preparation.”
On Saturday, his only off-day of the week, Ticat long snapper Aaron Crawford had dinner with his family. His father was celebrating a birthday and Crawford, a native of Medicine Hat, Alta., was thrilled to be able to share it with his Dad and grandparents.
“It was good times, great to see everybody,” he said.
He also spent some time thinking about Friday’s loss, the one where he launched a second-quarter snap over the head of punter Justin Medlock. It cost Hamilton two points, all more the galling given that the final margin of victory was just one.
“I watched that snap about 100 times and wrote down a bunch notes so hopefully it never happens again,” Crawford said. “I just rushed it.”
On Saturday, on what was only an off-day for his players, head coach Kent Austin was up at 6:30 a.m. to watch game film. It told him exactly what he thought it would, though that didn’t make the loss any easier to take.
“We didn’t deserve to win it but we certainly had plenty of opportunity to,” Austin said. “I’ll never forget it – it’s just a matter of degrees. It’s a matter of compartmentalizing to be able to get to the next game.”
It goes without saying that Austin spent some time thinking about Friday’s loss, the one where the Ticats called a pass play with just over a minute remaining that fell incomplete, thereby stopping the clock and giving the Stamps some crucial extra time. Austin’s job entails pointing out his players’ mistakes but he scrutinizes himself as well.
“You should question everything after every game and analyze why decisions were made at that time,” he said. “Hindsight is always perfect but it doesn’t exclude your responsibility to constantly question the decisions you’re making.”
On Saturday, his only off-day of the week, Ticat cornerback Ed Gainey took it easy.
“I watched film, grabbed some food and hung out with my teammates. Watched the Winnipeg game and got off my feet,” Gainey said. “I talked to my family, talked to my girlfriend and that was it.”
He also spent some time thinking about Friday’s loss, the one where he struggled to contain Calgary receiver Jeff Fuller, who had nine catches for 148 yards, including a 28-yarder on third-and-17 that set up the winning field goal.
“I just really made it more challenging for myself than anything. I could have been more aware in certain situations,” Gainey said. “I could have played a lot better than I played.”
Collaros, Crawford, Austin and Gainey were all back at practice on Sunday, working out in the warm Calgary sunshine. Friday’s game needs to be forgotten and Saturday respite is certainly over. The only day that matters now is next Thursday.
“I’m definitely going to learn from my mistakes,” Gainey said. “But I’m on to Winnipeg.”