Ticats are just better

FRANK ZICARELLI, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:42 AM ET

HAMILTON -- Arland Bruce III is the first to acknowledge the roll his Ticats are on, the swagger that has surfaced in the Hammer.

As well as the Ticats have looked in winning four straight, there's more work that awaits, plenty of areas on both sides of the ball that require improvement for Bruce to reach his ultimate goal.

The Ticats weren't able to establish any kind of run game, which is surprising given how effective they were two weeks ago in Toronto, the defence allowed Cleo Lemon to produce his first 300-yard passing game in the CFL and there were dropped passes and missed assignments that need to be cleaned up.

But as Hamilton and Toronto officially hit the season's mid-point with identical records, it's the Ticats who are better positioned for the second half headed into the playoff run.

For the second successive meeting, the Argos did more to beat themselves, either through dropped passes, miscommunication between Lemon and his receiving unit or allowing big plays on special teams.

The Ticats kept their miscues to a minimum, but a team with aspirations for greatness has to be close to error-free football as possible.

Officially, the Ticats now rank second in the East based on their 2-0 season series over the Argos, who technically are tied with Hamilton with identical 5-4 records. They've won four games in a row for the first time since 1998.

Up next for the Tabbies is a home date against the Als, a team that looked very vulnerable in getting blown out in Montreal last Friday as Anthony Calvillo watched in street clothes.

The gap between the Ticats and Als is closing, but just how far that separation is will be somewhat determined when Montreal pays a visit to the Hammer this Saturday afternoon, on the same day Toronto plays in Vancouver.

"You never want to get ahead of yourself," Bruce was preaching inside the Ticats locker room following their 28-13 triumph over the Argos.

"What we are now is better than we were a year ago this time. We're above .500 and that's all."

But momentum is building and belief is growing in the wake of the four-game streak which, oddly, has been produced against two opponents, the Argos and Blue Bombers.

"We're just powering ourselves up," Bruce said. "It's like Pacman eating those power pellets, we're getting better and better."

But just how good these Ticats can be answered.

What's known is that these Ticats are better than the Argos, who haven't been as good when they were playing error-free football.

Kevin Glenn is a much more accomplished CFL quarterback than Lemon, which isn't exactly breaking any news, but he gives Hamilton experience, a leader who will make plays with his arm, assuming his receivers hang on to it, and with his legs.

Toronto was simply abysmal in the red zone, forcing Lemon into turnovers that killed any Argos momentum.

"We put some stuff in our package this week," Ticats linebacker Markeith Knowlton said. "There were certain reads in the red zone he (Lemon) has troubles with and we took advantage of it."

Punter Eric Wilbur has been in Hamilton for about two months and he hasn't lost a game.

"There's this sense of family," he said. "You know the guy lining up next to you has your back and it's a great feeling."

Marwan Hage has seen the improvement from a team that began the year at 1-4 and sees no reason to change their approach.

"We all know there's a long way to go," Hage said. "As long as we continue to get better week to week, we'll be all right."

Right now, very little is wrong with these Ticats.

FRANK.ZICARELLI@SUNMEDIA.CA


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