The weekly collections of news, notes, stats and roster updates ahead of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats game. Up this week: a date with the B.C. Lions in Vancouver.
B.C. Lions (6-6) at Hamilton Tiger-Cats (2-9)
Fri., Sept. 22
Game time: 11 p.m. EST
TV: TSN Radio: TSN 1150
The storyline for Hamilton: After losing at home last week to Saskatchewan – the Ticats fell short on the game’s final play – Hamilton is in danger of falling even further out of playoff contention. While the Ticats can still win the season series against every East Division opponent, they likely need to win a game or two against the West to have a shot at the post-season (they also have a trip to Winnipeg and home date against the Stamps coming up.) The team travelled to Vancouver a day early to help acclimatize to the time change.
Key injuries and roster changes: Canadian receiver Shamawd Chambers will get the start at receiver after being acquired in a trade with Edmonton this weekend while Alex Green, signed Monday, starts at running back for the injured C.J. Gable. Ryker Mathews, who missed last week due to injury, is back at right tackle. The 12 starters on defence are unchanged from last week, the first time that’s happened this season.
Five funky Hamilton stats:
1. Quarterback Jeremiah Masoli will be making his fourth straight start and13th of his career. He has a 6-6 record and is for 5-2 (.714) on the road.
2. Masoli leads all CFL quarterbacks with 208 rushing yards this seasons while B.C. leads the league with 332 rushing yards from QB duo of Jonathon Jennings and Travis Lulay.
3. Hamilton threw a season-high 48 passes last week in the loss to Saskatchewan, 26 of which were targeted at Luke Tasker or Jalen Saunders. Over the last two games, Masoli has targeted them 43 times for 25 completions.
4. Hamilton is dead last in the CFL second down conversions at 38.1 per cent while allowing opponents to convert at a 54 per cent clip (eighth in the league.) The last two weeks, however, the Ticats defence has dropped that number to 40 per cent.
5. The Ticats are 2-9 in their last 11 road games and are the only East Division without a victory against a Western opponent this year (0-7). They are 2-15 vs. West Division teams since the start of last season.
The storyline for B.C.: Wally Buono’s boys have been bad, very bad. Linebacker Micah Awe was fined the maximum allowable by the CFL after two head-hunting hits in last week’s loss to Calgary while return man Chris Rainey and defensive lineman David Menard were also docked by the league for transgressions against the Stamps. At 6-6, the Lions are tied for last in the division – their 12 points would lead the East – and Saskatchewan has a game in hand in the race for the West’s final playoff spot or a crossover berth. Starting Friday, B.C. will play four of their last six games at home (whether anybody shows up is another question.)
Key injuries and roster changes: The Lions pass rush gets a big boost with the return of Alex Bazzie, who signed this week after failing to make an NFL squad. Bazzie played three years with B.C. registering 29 sacks in 50 games, including 11 in in 2016 to earn a West Division all-star nod.
Five funky B.C. stats:
1. The Lions won the first match up between these two teams 41-26 at Tim Hortons Field on July15 to make it four straight wins over the Ticats. B.C. has won those games by an average margin of 18.5 points and built leads of 20-plus points in three of the four meetings. The key stats over the four-game run: a 13-7 edge in turnovers and a 16-5 advantage in sacks.
2. Jennings is 3-0 for his career against Hamilton, winning once in 2015 and twice last season. He started the July win as well but was injured on the second play (Lulay came in and threw for a CFL record 436 yards off the bench.)
3. B.C. is 3-0 this season when they lead after the first quarter (11-3 over the last two years.) They are 1-6 when trailing after one quarter and 0-6 when trailing at the half.
4. Linebacker Solomon Elimimian needs just nine defensive tackles to reach the 100 mark for the third time in his career. Since the start of the 2014 season, he has averaged 7.4 tackles per game.
5. Running back Jeremiah Johnson leads the CFL with 11 touchdowns and his No. 2 in the CFL with 661 rushing yards. His six runs of 20-plus yards are No.1 in the CFL.
TSN play-by-play: Chris Cuthbert and Glen Suitor
Referee: Dave Foxcroft