Ticats not shooting selves in foot

KIRK PENTON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 11:30 AM ET

HAMILTON -- Barrin Simpson believes the Hamilton Tiger-Cats are a better team this year, and after watching their win over the B.C. Lions last week he also thinks he knows why.

"Execution. They just executed better," the Bomber middle linebacker said. "Over the years they played well. They played good football games, but they would shoot themselves in the foot. They're not doing that anymore."

As for who is doing the better executing, Simpson figures he has that pegged as well.

"The key was (Quinton) Porter," he said. "He extended plays when they didn't have anything. He would take off and run, get the first down. He would extend the drive, then he would scramble, extend the play, dump it off.

"He just made a lot of plays."

There was a lot of love flowing yesterday for Porter, the Ticats starting quarterback, even though the Boston College grad has just as many CFL starts (seven) as his counterpart tonight, Winnipeg's Stefan LeFors.

Hamilton quarterbacks coach Khari Jones, who knows a thing or two about slinging the pigskin from his all-star days in Winnipeg, is a fan of Porter's build (6-foot-5, 228 pounds), his mobility (a 7.8-yard average on 15 carries) and his brain.

"I see the same thing that most people see: a guy who has all the skills to be successful in this league," Jones said. "He showed a little bit of that last week, and now it's just about putting games together and showing what he can do week to week."

Porter, 26, led the Ticats to a huge upset of the B.C. Lions last week, completing 19 of 24 passes for 222 yards and a touchdown. It wasn't as pretty the week before, however, in Hamilton's home-opening loss to Toronto.

"I'm a Porter fan," Bombers head coach Mike Kelly said. "I like the kid. He can have a nice career in this league. He throws a ball with good velocity. He's accurate."

He's also getting better protection, thanks in large part to a pair of former Bombers. In the off-season the Ticats signed free-agent left tackle Alexandre Gauthier and then traded for right tackle Dan Goodspeed, whom Winnipeg had just shipped to Saskatchewan.

"No shots at nobody else, but they upgraded their tackle positions and those are good football players," Simpson said. "They were here with us, and both of them were all-stars.

"That was an upgrade on the offensive line. So they definitely made them better in giving Porter a little more time."

Hamilton head coach Marcel Bellefeuille said Goodspeed and Gauthier have provided more than just stability on the offensive line.

"We talked in the off-season about getting five or six guys who had been in the wars, been in the battles, who were good leaders but still had lots of ability left," Bellefeuille said, "We wanted guys to mature our locker-room, and those two guys have been critical to that."

AND WE QUOTE: "It's fun. It makes me feel a little old, I guess, just to know that I played with him and now I'm coaching him. But it's great. Kevin's great. He's almost like a coach out there himself sometimes."

-- Jones, talking about coaching Kevin Glenn, who was his backup in Winnipeg in 2004

kirk.penton@sunmedia.ca


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