News, notes and roster changes ahead of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats game against the Toronto Argonauts on Saturday.
Toronto Argonauts (6-7) at Hamilton Tiger-Cats (3-9)
Tim Hortons Field
Sat., Sept. 30
Game time: 6:30 p.m. EST
TV: TSN Radio: TSN 1150
The storyline for Hamilton: A win in this game would put the Ticats right back in the thick of the East Division playoff race while a loss would be a massive setback to their chances of making the post-season: the winner of this game takes the season series, the key tie-breaker in the standings.
Key injuries and roster changes: Canadian receiver Andy Fantuz will make his 2017 debut after recovering from a knee injury suffered late last year. Running back C.J. Gable returns to the starting line up after missing last week with a shoulder injury – despite the 140 rushing yards put up by Alex Green in the win over the B.C. Lions. Defensive back Abdul Kanneh, one of the team’s key off-season acquisitions who has missed virtually all this season due to injury, returns to the line up. DB Don Unamba sits while Canadian receiver Mitchell Baines, who started last week, has been released.
Five funky Hamilton stats:
1. The Ticats are 3-1 since new head coach June Jones took over and only Calgary (4-0) has more victories over that span. The Hamilton wins have come by razor-thin margins of 2, 4 and 1 point.
2. The defence started the season by surrendering 30 or more points in eight consecutive games, a CFL record. In the last four games, they have allowed an average of 23.5 points per game – down from 38.8 – and not allowed more than 27 in any game.
3. Alex Green’s 140 rushing yards against B.C. last week was the most recorded by any Hamilton player since DeAndra’ Cobb who had 166 yards on Sept. 25, 2010.
4. In their three wins, the Ticats have a plus-4 turnover ratio; in their 8 losses they are minus-10 with only 11 takeaways. Hamilton has scored 24 per cent of their 241 total points after an opponent turnover, second in the CFL behind Winnipeg (28 per cent.)
5. Linebacker Larry Dean has 69 tackles this season and 44 in the last six games. He is on pace for 103 tackles and would be the Hamilton first player over the century mark since Jamall Johnson in 2009 (108.)
The storyline for Toronto: The Argos lead the East Division with 12 points and can virtually lock up a playoff spot by winning the season series with Hamilton. Toronto has won two straight and have found a running game with rookie James Wilder Jr.
Key injuries and roster changes: The loss of Canadian offensive tackle Chris Van Zeyl is significant as it will force the Argos to change the ratio and start two national receivers. Defensive back Cassius Vaughn, a former Ticat, is also hurt and he’s been solid in the SAM linebacker role this season.
Five funky Toronto stats:
1. The Argos have yet to win a game at Tim Hortons Field, going 0-7 since the stadium opened on Labour Day, 2014. That includes four regular season losses, a playoff loss and two neutral site games in 2015 when they were kicked out of Rogers Centre due to Blue Jays post-season baseball.
2. Toronto is on their first two-game winning streak of 2017, and just their third two-gamer in their last 35 contests back to October 2015.
3. In his first six starts this season, quarterback Ricky Ray completed 24 passes where the receiver was 20-plus yards downfield. In the last six starts, he has just four such completions.
4. Running back James Wilder Jr. is coming off games of 190 and 141 yards rushing and his 331 yards in consecutive games is the most since 2013. The three-game record is 548 yards, set by Troy Mills in 1994.
5. Defensive end Victor Butler leads the league with an average of 1.14 sacks per game.
TSN play-by-play: Chris Cuthbert and
Referee: Tom Vallesi
Weather: Clear, 13 degrees winds out of the Northeast at 15 km/h.
Things to know about this game: The team will honour the 1957 and 1967 Grey Cup champion teams at halftime and give away free Tiger-Cats socks at Gates 1 and 2 starting at 5 p.m.