Ticats searching for red zone magic

FRANK ZICARELLI, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:27 PM ET

HAMILTON -- Whether it's referred to as the red zone, green zone, scoring zone or even the twilight zone, finishing a drive with a touchdown when venturing deep into an opponent's territory has been an issue with the Ticats.

It surfaced early in the season when the team paid the ultimate price for being able to muster only a field goal when near the opposition's goal line.

While points were left out on the field, the Ticats gradually became more efficient in their ability to execute inside a foe's 20-yard line and then came the first of three season meetings with the Argos.

The Ticats would win, 16-12, but the Argos did more to lose the game than anything Hamilton mounted.

When a team accumulates more yards in penalties (115) than it produces along the ground (98), which the Argos did two weeks ago, you know a team is in for a long night.

While the jury may still be out on exactly how good these Argos are, a Jim Barker led team has always made amends, which makes Monday's Labour Day meeting in the Hammer that much more appealing.

The Argos aren't going to beat themselves, placing the onus squarely in the hands of the Ticats' offence.

With Kevin Glenn having the ball, barring a direct snap, on each possession, Hamilton's starting quarterback understands the importance of scoring touchdowns when opportunities present themselves.

"That's going to be a very important factor that'll come into play on Monday,'' Glenn began on Saturday when wind descended upon Ivor Wynne Stadium.

Weather

The forecast for Monday's showdown is expected to be ideal, but the past two days in the Hammer have been anything but, certainly not conducive to throwing the football.

On Friday, rain pelted the stadium, forcing the Ticats to briefly interrupt their workout.

With Sunday being a walkthrough day in preparation for the big day, the Ticats don't expect to make major changes to the way in which they attacked the Argos at Rogers Centre.

The change Glenn hopes to see is in finding the end zone.

"It was one of those games where we moved the ball pretty good, but we just didn't come away with touchdowns,'' Glenn said.

And he's right.

For Glenn, Hamilton's game in Toronto marked the first time he's seen the Argos' defence in a regular-season game.

What he saw was a defensive secondary that looked an awfully lot like the Rich Stubler defence that became the staple in Toronto.

"They don't play a lot of man,'' Glenn said of the Argos' coverage. "And when they do play man, they disguise it in a way you think is a zone."

Glenn was intercepted once, the Ticats turned the ball over on downs when Quinton Porter got sacked on a bootleg when a pulling lineman tripped along the line of scrimmage, leaving Argos free safety Willie Pile with a clear path.

"Toronto definitely presents a different challenge,'' Glenn said. "Its defence isn't like other defences in our league."

The keys, then, become recognition and reads and above everything else, execution.

"There were situations where we could have scored points if we had one or two guys doing something different,'' Glenn said.

Eight Ticat players caught at least one pass, Hamilton won the time of possession battle by more than five minutes and there was excellent balance on offence.

But the Ticats know they aren't likely to win if they manage to produce only one touchdown, which was created on a kickoff fumble that placed the ball on the Argos' 22-yard line.

frank.zicarelli@sunmedia.ca


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