To hear the Hamilton Tiger-Cats tell it, there is no glaring weakness, no major flaw, no catastrophic moment that is to blame for their three-game losing streak.
Instead, it’s a series a minor mistakes in all phases of the game that are adding up to one giant ‘L.’
It stands to reason, then, that having a guy with a reputation for doing the little things right – and the big things too – return to the lineup should be a big help.
Receiver Luke Tasker was back at practice Monday after missing two games with a lower body injury and is expected to play Friday in Montreal. While the team missed his production – he’s still third on the team with catches at 279 yards – it’s his attention to detail, innate understanding of the game and relationship with quarterback Jeremiah Masoli that the Ticats are hoping will help them out of their offensive funk.
“I hope my teammates have a sigh of relief that I’m in there. That’s flattering to a player if his teammates think that highly of him, ” Tasker said. “Masoli and I have played together a lot, in multiple offences, against all kinds of defences, in tough games, great wins and great losses. We’re on the same page.”
It’s not just the receiving corps that gets a boost with his return. The Ticats’ O-line line gave up five sacks in Saturday’s loss to Ottawa, but head coach June Jones said a number of them were on Masoli and pass catchers, not the big boys up front.
“I thought they played really well. The sacks were not related to the O-line – only one was a bust, ” Jones said. “More of the sacks were related to the quarterback and receivers, everybody trying to do too much. Take what they give you, do your job and don’t make it harder than it is.”
Precise route running and excellent decision-making – much of Jones’ offence is based on the QBs and receivers reading the defensive coverage and making the same adjustments – are Tasker’s forte.
“That’s my strength and I feel like I’ll be in the position that Masoli expects me to be in and vice versa, ” Tasker said. “I think it will help.”
Meanwhile, Jones said the decision to go for a short kickoff with just under two minutes to go in the fourth quarter against Ottawa – an eternity by CFL standards – instead of kicking it deep was made collectively with assistant head coach Orlondo Steinauer, assistant offensive co-ordinator coach Corey Grant, special teams assistant Craig Butler and offensive line coach and former special teams coodinator Dennis McKnight.
“I talked to Orlondo first, then we sort of talked to everybody … and we all said ‘onside kick, ’” Jones said. “A lot of time the head coach makes that decision, but I really lean on Corey and Orlondo because of the different things can happen that I haven’t been through and they’ve been through it for years and years.”
The Ticats failed to recover, Ottawa kicked a field goal four plays later, extending their lead to six. Needing a touchdown to win instead of a field goal to tie, Hamilton’s final drive ultimately came up short.