Ticats desperate for win No. 2

TERRY KOSHAN -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:48 AM ET

HAMILTON -- They seem to be a sad-sack group of football players that only their mothers could love, but the Hamilton Tiger-Cats insist they will trot on to the field tonight at Ivor Wynne Stadium with their chins up.

Of course, with the way the Ticats' season has unfolded, that might give the Argos a perfect opportunity to deliver a knockout punch.

"It's playoff time now," said linebacker Zeke Moreno, although in the real world it's just Week 7 in the CFL. "We have to win these next two (before a bye week) if we want to be considered a playoff-consistent team."

A couple of wins might go a long way in saving the job of Ticats head coach Charlie Taaffe. If the Tiger-Cats fall to 1-7 with losses tonight to Toronto and next Thursday in Winnipeg, there are whispers that Taaffe could be toast. And it might not be a pretty forecast for the Ticats, as a trio of offensive threats -- running back Jesse Lumsden, quarterback Casey Printers and receiver Tony Miles -- will miss the game tonight because of injuries.

Richie Williams will take snaps, Terry Caulley will start in Lumsden's spot and Taaffe hopes Jo Jo Walker can help fill the hole left by Miles. The Argos are not taking the absence of any of the three lightly, but Lumsden's inability to play delights them.

"It makes the game a little easier, hopefully," defensive end Jonathan Brown said. "You can't beat Jesse Lumsden's combination of power, speed and aggressiveness that we don't (usually) see in the CFL. It's going to be hard for them to replace him, but we can't be saying, 'Jesse is not here so we can slack off.' We still have to go up there amped up."

Caulley will be Williams' first choice to be handed the ball, but Tre Smith also will get his touches. On July 3, the Ticats had a whopping 311 yards on the ground against Toronto. Lumsden was a machine, putting up 189 yards and two touchdowns.

But that amounts to nothing tonight. The good vibes the Ticats had from their lone win are long gone, and Taaffe and his charges are desperate. This is a team that has been making mental mistakes at an alarming pace and has allowed 13 sacks in the past two games.

"We have to play 60 minutes like a fire drill, where you have great energy and passion and understand our backs are to the wall," Taaffe said. "We are fighting to survive right now."


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