The day before Ticats v. Argos: News, notes and a preview vid

• the Ticats will be without offensive lineman Jeremy Lewis, who was injured in the Ottawa game last Saturday. Marc Dile will get the start at right tackle. The only other roster change features defensive back Ed Gainey coming on for the injured Cleshawn Page. With Page out, Rico Murray will start at the boundary corner.

• so, to recap, that Ticats will start the most important game of the season with a new quarterback, new right tackle and new boundary corner. All have started games in the CFL before, but still. It’s not ideal.

• Andre Proulx will be the head referee, a guy who has some history with the Ticats. He was the ref two weeks ago when two separate officials blew separate two calls on the same play that cost Hamilton the go-ahead touchdown late in fourth quarter (Proulx did not throw a flag on the play.) He was also the referee in last year’s Grey Cup, when the Ticats lost after a Brandon Banks punt return was called back due to an illegal block (for the record, Proulx didn’t throw that flag either.)

The officiating crew is made up of officials who grade out the best over the course of the regular season and Proulx has been considered one of the CFL’s top referees for some time. Austin voiced his support for the grading system employed by CFL VP of officiating Glen Johnson.

“I’m glad Andre is officiating our game,” Ticat head coach Kent Austin said. “But Andre has guys around him that need to perform at his level.”

There’s more detail on the Ticat penalty numbers in the stats section below (and even more detail in this piece by our stats guy Mark Fulton.)

• one of the two officials who made the mistake in Ticats game against Ottawa, field judge Bryan Taylor, is working the West Semi-Final between Calgary and B.C. When he acknowledged their mistakes, Johnson said that both officials were highly rated. He also said the error could affect playoff assignments.

• It sounds like Austin has talked with quarterback Jeremiah Masoli about playing within the system. During his last stint as the starter, Masoli often made the most the aggressive play – often passing up easy throws to do so.

“He just needs to execute the play as he has been taught and not worry about trying to do too much.”

“There were times in the past when he was counselled and like every other player, they learn from the mistakes and the things they’ve done well. Everybody matures at a difference pace and I think he’s mature quite a bit.”

“The most important thing is that you make the routine plays, you make great decisions, you don’t force the ball, protect the football and give our offence a chance to have success. He understands that.”

• the Argos will be without their leading receiver, Vidal Hazelton,and Kevin Elliott (who finished No. 3 in yards.) Defensive back Devin Smith is also out. Brandon Whitaker and Chad Kackert are the running backs and Chad Owens, who missed a day of practice this week, is in the line up. Kicker Swayze Waters will play, though former Ticat Justin Palardy will handle kickoffs and fill in if Waters re-injures his groin.

• Toronto quarterback Ricky Ray said there were times this season that he didn’t think his injured throwing shoulder would recover to the point where he’d be able to play. “The gains and improvements were so small early on that it seemed like it would take forever.”

Ray also downplayed his much-discussed arm strength (or lack thereof.)

“I’ve never been blessed with an overly strong arm. Throughout my career there have been throws that I can make and those I know I can’t. They do a good job here in game planning to my strengths.”

Scouting report

East Semi-Final
Toronto Argonauts (10-8) at Hamilton Tiger-Cats (10-8)
Tim Hortons FieldSunday, Nov. 15
Game time: 1 p.m. EST
TV: TSN Radio: TSN 1150

The storyline for Toronto: The Argonauts finished the season 10-8 but lost three of their last four to end the regular season. Quarterback Ricky Ray gets his third start of the season, despite a right shoulder that still isn’t 100 per cent. Toronto will also have overcome a couple of doughnuts at Tim Hortons Field: they are 0-3 against the Ticats this season and haven’t won in Hamilton in five opportunities.

Five funky Toronto stats:

1. as a head coach, Scott Milanovch has led his team to a 3-1 record in the post-season, including the 100th Grey Cup Championship in 2012.

2. last week against Winnipeg, former Ticat turned Argo receiver Dave Stala caught two touchdown passes, his since September 28, 2012.

3. career starts for Argonaut quarterback Ricky Ray: 191. Career starts for Ticat quarterback Jeremiah Masoli: 1.

4. Toronto is a perfect 5-0 when leading after three quarters this season. Hamilton is 0-5 when trailing after one quarter.

5. On their 51 trips to the red zone this season,the Argos have 36 touchdowns: best in the CFL.

The storyline for Hamilton: The Ticats have lost three straight and five of seven since losing starting quarterback Zach Collaros for the season with a torn ACL on Sept. 19. Jeff Mathews started five games before suffering a concussion, Jacory Harris was at the helm last week and Jeremiah Masoli goes against Toronto. Hamilton started the season with Grey Cup aspirations but will have to do it the hard way to make it back to the big game for the third straight season.

Five funky Hamilton stats:

1. the Hamilton defence leads the league in completion percentage (61 per cent), yards per attempt (6.8) and yards after the catch (4.7.)

2. In the three games in which Andre Proulx has been the head referee this season, the Tiger-Cats have taken 38 per cent fewer penalties and have incurred 39 per cent less penalty yards than average.

3. The Ticats have led by 14 or more points at half time in each of their three wins over Toronto this season.

4. Ticats are 0-7 in games which they commit more turnovers than the opposition. They are the only team not to win a game with a negative turnover differential this season.

5. Hamilton leads the CFL with 40 first possession points.

TSN play-by-play: Chris Cuthbert and Glen Suitor.

Referee: Andre Prolux.

The weather forecast: Mostly sunny, 12 degrees with winds out of the southwest at 30 km/h.

Drew Edwards is the founder of 3DownNation but has since wandered off. Beard in the photo not exactly as shown.