Ticats’ head coach Orlondo Steinauer blames big plays, ‘repeated pattern’ of penalties for loss to Argos

Photo: Bob Butrym/3DownNation. All rights reserved.

After two straight victories over struggling opponents, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats were back to their losing ways on Friday against the Toronto Argonauts.

While the 31-15 loss came with rookie third-stringer Taylor Powell making his first career start, head coach Orlondo Steinauer was unwilling to offer any excuse for his team’s latest defeat.

“We’re not scoring and we’re not stopping anybody. Every game is different; whether there’s a short field or an explosion (play), those types of things, it’s not favourable,” an agitated Steinauer told reporters after the game.

“What you’ve got to hold on to is I thought we had a decent third quarter that resembled professional football with competitiveness and clawing and scratching; I think they just had the field goal there. But again, when you get it to a one-score game, when you can get to that in this league with three minutes to go, you should have an opportunity, and I thought that’s where we were trending until the explosion happened.”

That explosion came after the Ticats brought the deficit down to eight points thanks to a Powell touchdown run with five minutes remaining in the game, though kicker Marc Liegghio shanked the extra-point attempt. On the next two plays from scrimmage, Hamilton’s defence promptly gave up a 35-yard catch to DaVaris Daniels and a 25-yard run to A.J. Ouellette, setting up a Chad Kelly rushing touchdown to all but ice the game.

However, even more than the big plays, it was unforced errors that continue to haunt Steinauer’s team. The Ticats committed 12 penalties for 100 yards, successfully supplanting the Edmonton Elks as the league’s most penalized team.

The yardage easily could have been more as the Ticats were mid-way through a goal-line stand on Toronto’s opening drive when linebacker Jameer Thurman put his forearm on the throat of Kelly to draw the game’s first flag. Teammate Simoni Lawrence backed him up with an objectionable conduct penalty after the whistle, and the duo successfully turned 30 yards worth of majors into just half-the-distance and a touchdown.

Controversial strong-side linebacker Chris Edwards kindly waited until after the Argos’ third touchdown to draw his own objectionable conduct penalty, this time for yapping at his former head coach Ryan Dinwiddie. Less than a month removed from absorbing a max fine for his post-game shove of Montreal receiver Austin Mack, Steinauer could not deny Edwards’ history.

“Those are a repeated pattern. It’s not the first time that that’s happened,” he acknowledged.

Still, the worst penalty of the bunch came at the end of that positive third quarter. After a James Butler run set the team up at the two-yard line, veteran left guard Brandon Revenberg found himself physically engaged with a defender once the play was over and was penalized for unnecessary roughness. The Ticats couldn’t overcome the ensuing second-and-17 and settled for a field goal instead of a much-needed touchdown.

“That’s not in Revenberg’s nature. Toronto was egging him on, egging Chris (Edwards) on, the whole time and I thought he kept his poise there,” Steinauer said.

“I don’t know what was said as that happened but I know what the result was and the result was it didn’t help our football team. When it came to Rev’s, obviously, we’re right there at the doorstep. Those things aren’t conducive to playing consistent, winning football.”

Through six games, the Ticats are averaging 11 penalties a game for nearly 100 yards. That would make success unattainable for any team, let alone one limping along with their third quarterback.

Steinauer was coy about his situation under centre, calling it “all day-to-day” and saying Bo Levi Mitchell’s fate remains in the hands of team doctors. However, after Powell completed 27-of-41 passes for 282 yards and an interception, he was adamant that the defeat could not be laid at the feet of the rookie.

“We needed to be better. It’s not on Taylor,” Steinauer insisted. “He shouldn’t have to be back there 40 times throwing the football.”

It is the rest of the roster that must face the music for the Ticats’ fourth loss of the season, with their coach stressing the urgency of correcting the repeated mistakes.

“It’s a third of the season down and 2-4 is what it is,” Steinauer said. “I’m still proud of our group. I think we have great effort, we have those types of things. There’s just things we need to clean up and if we don’t get them cleaned up, we’re gonna continue to maybe be 2-4 in the next third. That’s not good enough football. That’s not what we do around here.”

The Ticats return to action on Friday, July 28 against the Ottawa Redblacks.

J.C. Abbott is a University of British Columbia graduate and high school football coach. He covers the CFL, B.C. Lions, CFL Draft and the three-down league's Global initiative.