There’s a 24-hour rule in football that says a team can only celebrate a win or brood over a loss for a single day before moving on and starting their preparations for the next game. But, given the magnitude of last Friday’s 50-11 dismantling of Johnny Manziel and the Montreal Alouettes, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats can be forgiven for basking in the warm afterglow of victory just a little bit longer.
After struggling to put points on the board during a three-game losing streak, the Ticat offence exploded for five touchdowns while racking up more than 500 yards of offence (a season high). The turnover-deprived defence posted six takeaways that led to 24 points, another problem spot. Essentially, playing the Alouettes was a cure for most of what’s been ailing the Ticats recently.
“It was good to get back on track — it kind of felt like the normal us out there,” said quarterback Jeremiah Masoli, who threw for an even 300 yards with two touchdown passes and another on the ground. “We were just fed up with it, man. Watching the film every week, we were putting up all these yards and not putting up points.”
It was an inauspicious debut for Manziel, who was making his first CFL start less than two weeks after being traded from Hamilton, along with two offensive linemen, for a package of players and draft picks. In addition to the interceptions, Manziel was limited to 104 yards passing and a 55 per cent completion percentage before being pulled at the end of the third quarter.
“I don’t think it mattered that it was against Johnny. He kind of got thrown into the fire,” said safety Mike Daly, who had one of the interceptions. “The only fun part about it was that you knew a lot of people were watching.”
Daly said whatever debate there was surrounding the trade was a nonfactor inside the locker room where Ticat players knew that sticking with Masoli and moving Manziel on was the right decision.
“The guys in here haven’t wavered once. Did the fans waver a little bit? Maybe. It was upsetting to see because we knew how well Jeremiah was playing,” Daly said. “He’s always been our guy.”
Hamilton head coach June Jones said Manziel’s lack of preparation time was certainly a factor in his poor performance, but that the onus is on him to put the work in now that he’s the man in Montreal.
“It was a growing period while he was here and now he has to start preparing himself as the starter, start coming into the office at 6:30 a.m., spend the long hours until 6 or 7 at night. That’s the kind of commitment you need as a starting quarterback,” Jones said. “Jeremiah is here all the time that I’m here and that’s what it takes to play quarterback in this league.”
Up next for the Ticats is a Friday matchup with the Blue Bombers in Winnipeg. While Hamilton won 31-17 on June 29 at Tim Hortons Field, the Bombers were without starting quarterback Matt Nichols and have won three of their last four since his return.
“Winnipeg is not the same team we played in Week 3,” Jones said. “They’ve improved; they have a different quarterback. I think they’re believing in themselves a whole lot more.”
Of course, so are the Ticats.
NOTES: A number of players missed practice on Monday, including defensive end Adrian Tracy, Canadian defensive linemen Justin Vaughn and Connor McGough, national linebacker Nick Shortill, as well as return man and reserve defensive back Frankie Williams. Tracy and Williams might be ready for Friday’s matchup against Winnipeg, but the others will miss at least a game or two with Vaughn having already been added to the six-game injured list. … The Ticats signed national linebacker Dillon Grondin to the practice roster. He played 15 games for Saskatchewan from 2016 to ’17, making one defensive tackle and six special teams tackles. … The Alliance of American Football has signed its first 100 players. The list includes some former Ticats, including kicker Sergio Castillo, defensive back Will Hill, receiver Brian Tyms and defensive lineman Tyriq McCord.