One of the biggest question marks for the Ticats heading into the new season is what to expect from the defence.
For the first time since Kent Austin arrived, the team will have a new defensive coordinator. Jeff Reinebold, formerly the special teams coordinator, takes over for the departed Orlondo Steinauer, who left to take a similar position with the NCAA’s Fresno State Bulldogs.
With a new coach comes new schemes, and while Reinebold was bumped up because he was both the best man for the job and has a familiarity with the players and the system the Ticats like to run, he will no doubt bring his own unique flair to the position.
So what can we expect from Reinebold’s unit in his first year with the Ticats? To answer that, I decided to take a look at Reinebold’s 2012 Montreal Alouettes defense. The 2012 season was Reinebold’s only year as a defensive coordinator in the CFL and could give us some indication as to what the Ticats will do well and where they might struggle.
Best against the rush
One area where the 2012 Als excelled was in stopping the run. They finished second in both rush yards allowed and yards allowed per rush, and third in rushing touchdowns allowed. So if the Ticats end up being stout against the run, we know why.
Middle of the road in sacks and turnovers
Sacks are one of those stats that fans love, but aren’t as important as they are made out to be. That said, the 2012 Als recorded the fourth-highest sack total with 42, which was was just five away from the league lead. The Ticats finished third in sacks last year with 50, two off the league lead, so I guess we should expect a similar rate of production again this year.
Creating turnovers is something Reinebold’s 2012 defense was fairly decent at. While they notched just 11 forced fumbles, they did intercept 16 passes, good for fifth in the league. Hamilton’s secondary has been a ballhawking unit since 2013, intercepting the second-most passes in the last four season (74, two behind Winnipeg’s league-leading 76). Last season the Ticats finished with 17 interceptions, behind only the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and their ridiculous 30 interceptions, and fourth in forced fumbles with 16. Under Reinebold, we can probably expect these numbers to remain steady, and Hamilton will once again produce turnovers at a high rate in 2017.
Worst against the pass and touchdowns allowed
Now we get to the worrisome part. The 2012 Als were one of the worst teams against the pass under Reinebold. They were fifth in total passing yards allowed, but were seventh in passing touchdowns allowed and completion percentage. That Als team had a pretty decent secondary with the likes of Jerald Brown, Dwight Anderson and Billy Parker, so to see that they got beat through the air is a little concerning. Hamilton spent a lot of money trying to fix their secondary, so it will interesting to see if they can be better than their 2012 Montreal counterparts.
The other area of concern is in touchdowns allowed. The Als finished fifth in total points allowed with 489, but they also allowed the third-most touchdowns. In what was then an eight-team league, that is not good. Hamilton finished sixth in total scoring last year, allowing 502 points, so this is an area that needs to be addressed this season and based on history could still be a concern.
Now obviously it won’t be a one-to-one comparison in any of these categories from 2012 to 2017, but the numbers do help us provide some insight into what we could expect to see from the Ticats defence under their new coordinator.