Ticats offensive line holds up with rookie centre

Lost in the miracle of Saturday’s comeback was the play the Ticats offensive line, which allowed exactly zero sacks while utilizing a centre making his first career CFL start.

Second-year man Mathieu Girard had a couple of wayward snaps but was otherwise solid against one of the league’s better front fours, including all-star defensive tackle Almondo Sewell. 

Veteran offensive tackle Brian Simmons said Girard – his teammates call him ‘Chewy’– has put the work in as the understudy to Mike Filer, who was injured in a July 15 win over the Montreal Alouettes

“I see more of Chewy than most people do and I’m not just saying this because of the outcome of the game, but I truly wasn’t worried at all,” Simmons said. “Physically, we knew he’d be OK but with centres, it’s all about the mental part of the game. We had two days off last week but he was in there every day getting prepared. He was ready.”

The line gave quarterback Jeremiah Masoli time in the pocket throughout the second half as he completed a CFL-record 23 straight passes while bringing the Ticats back from a 31-6 third quarter deficit. It was the largest comeback in team history. 

“The offensive line is a rhythm, a chemistry,” Simmons said. “We knew we had to make Girard feel comfortable by doing our work. I’m proud of everybody.”

Girard may have to keep up the good work for a while. The Ticats have placed Filer on the six-game injured list and expect he could miss at least several weeks with a high ankle sprain. The schedule helps a little: they are on a bye until an Aug. 3 date in Winnipeg, then don’t play again for ten more days.