Hamilton Tiger-Cats (1-8) at Ottawa Redblacks (4-6-1)
TD Place, Ottawa
Sat., Sept. 9
Game time: 6 p.m.
TV: TSN Radio: TSN 1150
The storyline for Hamilton: What a difference a win makes. Coming off their first victory of the season in last Monday’s Labour Day Classic, the Ticats have received a much-needed boost of confidence. Still, this is a team that’s woefully thin on Canadian content and playing with just four days between games while the Redblacks have had a full eight days to prepare.
Key injuries and roster changes: The Ticats have been ravaged by injuries to their Canadian contingent this season, losing receiver Giovanni Aprile as well as running backs Mercer Timmis and Sean Thomas-Erlington last week against Toronto. Enter newcomers Mitchell Baines (receiver), Frank Renaud (linebacker) and Tristan Doughlin (defensive back) who were signed this week and will be forced into the line up with two days of practice. Look for fullback C.O. Prime to get more action in situations where the Ticats want to get four American receivers into the game while Felix Flaubert-Lussier starts for Aprile. Defensive back Don Unamba returns from injury and Damarr Aultman is into the line up for Brian Tyms, likely to give Brandon Banks a break in the return game. Starting SAM linebacker Dominique Ellis is also out with rookie Cariel Brooks getting the start in his place.
Five funky Hamilton stats:
1. Hamilton has run the ball just 95 times this season and is on pace (190) for the second-lowest total for an 18-game season in CFL history. Only the now defunct Birmingham Barracudas had less than that when they registered just 171 runs compared to 814 passes, a ratio of just 17 per cent in 1995. Hamilton’s current run to pass ratio is 22.7 per cent.
2. Quarterback Jeremiah Masoli threw deep only three times last week with one completion, but that went for 64
yards and a touchdown to Brandon Banks.
3. Larry Dean and Richard Leonard combined for 14 tackles, an interception, a pass knockdown, one QB pressure and a tackle for loss in last week’s win. For the season, they lead the Tiger-Cats in defensive plays with 62 and 56, respectively.
4. C.J. Gable has 91 yards on just 13 carries over the last two game, a 7.0 average with four runs of 10-plus yards. Last week, he added two catches for 12 yards and 47 kickoff return yards.
5. With last week’s win by June Jones, the Ticats are now 5-4 in their first game after their nine in-season head coaching changes. Al Bruno (1983), John Gregory (1991), Don Sutherin (1994) and Ron Lancaster (2006) were the previous winners.
The storyline for Ottawa: After a rough start, Redblacks have won three straight, including a convincing 32-4 victory over Montreal last week. A win over the Ticats on Saturday would give them the season series and make it all but impossible for Hamilton to have any chance to catch them in the standings.
Key injuries and roster changes: Return man Quincy McDuffie (a former Ticat) is still a week away and so won’t go, joining running back William Powell on the sideline (another former Hamilton player, Mossis Madu, gets the start.) National defensive lineman Ettore Lattanzio and American linebacker Kevin Brown have been added to the roster with J.P. Bolduc and Mike Wakefield coming off.
Five funky Ottawa stats:
1. Greg Ellingson leads the CFL in receiving with 1,033 yards in 11 games with 155 of them coming in the first game against Hamilton three weeks ago. He leads the CFL with 13 receptions with gains of 30-plus yards and is No. 2 behind teammate Brad Sinopoli in second down catches.
2. Trevor Harris leads the CFL in passing yards with 3,531, 435 attempts, 309 completions and with 22 touchdown passes. He also leads the league with seven fumbles and has fumbled at least once in four of his last five games.
3. Ottawa is 0-5-1 in games decided by 4 points or less this season after going 7-5-1 in similar contests last season.
4. The Redblacks lead the CFL with 86 quarterback pressures but are fifth in sacks with 21.
5. Diontae Spencer has 679 combined yards in the last three games, most of any player in the CFL, and is now third in the league with 1,482 on the season.
TSN play-by-play: Rod Black and Duane Forde
Referee: Tom Vallesi
Weather: Partly cloudy, 10 per cent chance of rain, 16 degrees with winds out of the north at 12 km/h.
Other things to know about this game: At halftime, the Redblacks are honouring former quarterback Henry Burris, who retired after leading Ottawa to a championship last season. Burris also played for the Ticats in 2012 and 2013, leading them to a Grey Cup appearance. Fans have been encouraged to express their gratitude by using the hashtag #ThanksHank – a message that is also enshrined on the inside of the team’s Grey Cup rings.