In real life, a good turnover ratio is one pastry to one cup of coffee. By that standard, the Ticats are downright gluttonous.
At plus-20, the team lead the CFL in turnover-ratio – the difference between giveaways and takeaways – by a wide margin: Calgary and Toronto are next at plus three. At this pace, Hamilton has a chance to threaten the CFL record of plus-41, set by the 1981 Edmonton Eskimos.
The big disparity is the product of a number of factors. First, quarterback Zach Collaros has thrown just seven interceptions this season, tied for the lowest mark in the league with Toronto’s Trevor Harris. That number would appear to be sustainable: his 2.2 interception percentage this season – the number of picks compared against his pass attempts – is slightly higher than his career average.
Nor are the Ticats’ fumble numbers out of whack. Statistically speaking, teams have a 50 per cent chance of recovering any given fumble and an inordinate number of recoveries is likely to correct itself. But the Ticats have fumbled 13 times – that’s the third highest number in the CFL – and recovered seven of them.
The Ticats have 13 interceptions this season, tied for second in the league with two other teams – again, not an unreasonable number.
Where the team has a distinct advantage is turnovers-on-downs: Opposing teams have failed on third down 13 times against Hamilton (the next closest squad, Toronto, has just seven.) Meanwhile, the Ticats have turned the ball on downs just once this season.
This is a product of a couple of things: first Hamilton has been jumping out to huge leads for much of the last month and have outscored opponents by 142 points in the first half of ball games this season. Teams facing large deficits early are forced to go for it more often on third down.
The Ticat defence has also been excellent in short-yardage situations this: Five times this season, opposing teams have gone for it on third down and a yard or less to go and been rejected, forcing a turnover.
In addition to protecting the football, Collaros has also been successful at take advantage of the short-field opportunities, particularly of late. The Ticats lead the league in points off turnovers with 137 – the next closest team has 77 – while the Hamilton defence is tops in the CFL with just 29 points allowed after miscues.
In other words, the Ticats punish teams for their mistakes while limiting the damage caused by their own. That’s a tasty combination.
With just four days between games, Ticat quarterback Zach Collaros will change his preparation routine this week – but only to a certain point.
“I don’t take naps – I don’t want to waste any of my time,” Collaros said. “I didn’t like them in kindergarten, either.”
Collaros – who, along with receiver Terrell Sinkfield, was named a CFL performer-of-the-week – was back on the field Wednesday for team’s one and only practice between Monday’s Labour Day win and Friday’s re-match with the Argonauts in Toronto. Head coach Kent Austin kept the on-field session short, though the offence did stay out for an extended walk through.
“It’s going to take a lot of mental preparation and a lot of discipline from our players to make sure they are prepared because they aren’t going to get a lot of reps,” Austin said. “It’s physical preparation as well.”
The Ticats jumped out to a 27-1 halftime lead one their way to the 42-12 victory so Austin may have some leftover goodies in his offensive bag of tricks.
“They’re going to have wrinkles and we’re going to have wrinkles but you’re limited in how much new stuff you can put it in,” Austin said. “We didn’t run everything we had in so some of that may or may not be valid for this week.”
The news was mostly good on the injury front, though starting halfback Rico Murray is doubtful with a lower body injury (look for veteran Brandon Stewart to take his spot.) Guard Ryan Bomben, who missed last week, took some reps with the first team offence and may play Friday. Receiver Bakari Grant, however, is still another week away.
The team will likely a couple of other roster moves, adding Canadian running back Anthony Woodson, who returns from injury. That means American Nic Grigsby likely sits so the Ticats can get another American special teamer on the roster in linebacker David Caldwell. Defensive back Cleshawn Page will come on for Murray in a reserve role.
Collaros may pass on the midday siesta but said he’ll still be looking after his body with a series of cold tub, hot tub and sauna sessions. And yes, he did find time to celebrate Monday’s win.
“We had a good time – it’s Labour Day, man,” he said. “Then the next morning some us were in here, back to work.”