A few sober second thoughts after Hamilton’s Canada Day defeat at the hands of the B.C. Lions…
1. former Ticat coaches Khari Jones (now the Lions’ offensive coordinator) and Marcel Bellefeuille really did a great job scheming against the Hamilton defence, using a ton of double tight-end sets or keeping running backs in to help with protection. It negated the Ticats blitz while putting extra pressure on the suspect Hamilton secondary as quarterback Jonathon Jennings had time to throw the football. After harassing Toronto’s Ricky Ray for six sacks last week, Hamilton managed just one against B.C.
Both Jones and Bellefeuille got their asses kicked at Tim Hortons Field last season (the former was with the Lions who got waxed 52-22 while the Bombers, where Bellefeuille was OC, lost 38-8) and were determined to avoid making the same mistakes.
2. I’m not sure anyone predicted B.C. would be 2-0 given how tough their opening games were (vs. Calgary, at Hamilton) but general manager and now head coach Wally Buono has brought stability to an organization that never seemed to find its footing with Jeff Tedford at the helm last season. They’ve got a solid staff that features plenty of experience and a young quarterback in Jennings who is getting terrific guidance from veteran back up Travis Lulay, who has fully embraced his mentor role.
3. The Ticats were guilty of some horrendous clock management in the last minute of the first half. They had a first down at B.C. 44 yard line – after a measurement, no less – and yet let 14 seconds burn off the clock before snapping the ball for the next play. That completion to Fantuz left them with just eight seconds left and they decided to run another play, only to have offensive tackle Jeremy Lewis take a penalty, turning a 38 yard field goal try into a 48 yard field goal try that was short and wide right (and was almost returned to the house by Chris Rainey.)
4. That missed kick was one of three on the night from Maher, who also missed from 37 and 41. Both those kicks were wide left from the right hash mark, one on each end of the field. Maher acknowledged after the game that the wind was a factor and it’s clear he hasn’t quite figured out how the ball moves in the finicky environs of Tim Hortons Field. The wind in the Ticats new barn isn’t consistent and the flags at the top of the goalposts aren’t always a reliable indicator: the football moves in ways that are difficult to predict. Justin Medlock had it (sort of) figured out but he spent a lot of time before and after practice kicking in the stadium to get a feel for it and then took his wind decoder ring with him to Winnipeg. Maher may figure it out but the worry is that the wind will get in his head and impact him mentally, as happened with Sandro DeAngelis at the old Ivor Wynne. Hard to believe the new stadium could be a tougher place to kick than the old one – Paul Osbaldiston use to say there were 17 different winds at Ivor Wynne and one specific flag on top of the stadium that was the key to figuring them out – but it is.
5. Defensive back Geoff Tisdale is taking some heavy criticism after his performance on Friday, most of it warranted. The concern about Tisdale, who is 31, is that he isn’t quick enough to stay with fast receivers and he has tendency to be overly physical, honed after years of playing in a CFL that allowed it. Both things were on display on Friday night. Last week against Toronto, the Ticats were able to generate pressure up front and that made things easier on the back end. Not so against the Lions.
What could the Ticats do if they wanted to replace Tisdale? Dominique Ellis has been sixth defensive back the first two weeks and he could get a look as the starter at boundary corner. The team also has former NFLer Ellis Lankster on the practice roster, along with rookie Travis Lee. Ellis, who played halfback in Montreal, could get a look there with Rico Murray moving to corner, a spot he’s played in the past. Johnny Sears, currently playing SAM, could be an option as well. Former Alouette Mitchell White, who played boundary corner in Montreal before being a surprise cut last month, could be another option.
Of course, the Ticats could just chalk it up to just one tough game and keep Tisdale on the corner.
6. The Ticats took 13 penalties for 105 yards but also surrendered four first downs via penalty, including one that came via two of three straight offside penalties in the third quarter that turned a second-and-seven at the Hamilton 13 into first-and-goal at the two. B.C. scored a touchdown to take at 16-2 lead.
7. The Hamilton receivers by target (catches in parenthesis): Owens 11 (6), Tasker 9 (7), Fantuz 9 (7), Underwood 6 (3), Gable 2 (2), Banks 2 (1). Spencer Watt had zero targets.
8. After having a solid first week, the Ticat offensive line struggled against B.C. Not only did they surrender four sacks but at least one came when the Lions rushed just three guys and it sure felt as if Hamilton lost the physical battle at the line of scrimmage much of the night.
9. Austin said after the game that there won’t be a change at quarterback next week (not surprising) but it sounds like he did consider taking Masoli out during the loss.
“It’s a tough call because they’re all young, none of them have experience. I mean, how many games has Jeremiah played in this league right now? It’s not easy. You’re trying to balance bringing a guy along and helping him to mature and you really can’t get better without playing,” Austin said. “At the same time, not everything that happened tonight was Jeremiah’s fault.”
10. Ticats are back on the field Sunday and on a short week with Winnipeg coming in on Thursday. The Bombers are 0-2 and already in desperation mode with rampant speculation that head coach Mike O’Shea’s job could be in jeopardy…