The Hamilton Tiger-Cats ran roughshod over an intentionally short-handed Saskatchewan Roughriders team on Saturday, but head coach Orlondo Steinauer will spend little time relishing it.
The second-year bench boss liked what he saw from a number of contributors, but his focus is already on next week and the home playoff date with the Montreal Alouettes.
“The difference is now that the practice is over here. There’s a bigger consequence now. There’s elimination if you don’t execute in a winning fashion,” he stressed post-game before rattling off a few of the positive indicators he saw.
“We’re always coaches. We’re never satisfied, but I was happy with it. … Now it’s time to flip the page after tonight.”
The biggest positive takeaway for Steinauer was how his team handled itself in a game that ultimately didn’t matter in the standings. The Tiger-Cats had prepared with the understanding that the contest could clinch them a home playoff game, but that went out the window when Montreal let their foot off the gas against Ottawa. With their home date already set, the Ticats’ mentality didn’t change.
“It wasn’t strange. I had the same expectations. You’ve got to kind of set the players in their mindset, in a direction,” Steinauer explained.
“I think it’s natural instinct to maybe exhale or something, but when they came out there and played, I thought their effort was extremely high. I thought the intensity was there. They showed a sense of urgency and we came away with a W and that that’s the goal each week.”
That’s true this week more than most, as the Ticats formally begin the process of trying to avenge their 2019 Grey Cup loss and break the CFL’s longest active championship drought on home field. While terrifying to some, Steinauer has no nerves or doubts when it comes to that tall order.
“I just look at it as you win you keep going. Lose doesn’t enter my mind and that’s just how I’m built. We’re going to prepare to win, expect to win, and the ‘L’ word won’t show up,” he said without hesitation.
“It’s the reality, absolutely. It’s elimination, so the practice is over and the test is a little bit more serious. It’s comprehensive if you will and this is what it’s about. This is exciting.”
The test will promptly on Sunday against the Montreal Alouettes and how quickly Steinauer will be forced to put his pencil down depends entirely on how his team answers each question. There will be many problems to solve, but the coach believes the key to a passing grade will be providing the right answer to stopping new Alouettes quarterback Trevor Harris.
“I think the difference is Trevor’s a champion. He’s seen it. He’s been there. He’s done it, either as a backup or as the guy,” Steinauer said. “I think he’s a confident quarterback. I think he brings a different element, so they’ll be a different team than when we faced them.”