TORONTO - Confidence. Once you’ve reached the professional ranks it is what separates the good from the great.
Sure degree of talent plays its role, but at that level everyone has talent.
A trip down the QEW yesterday and that confidence was evident in spades.
Yes, the Hamilton Tiger Cats are coming off a tough 30-27 loss to Winnipeg but a bye week and the knowledge that that game was there for the taking against the current kings of the CFL have the Ticats feeling pretty good about themselves.
It’s evident as defensive end Stevie Baggs takes the practice field demanding to know “Who’s going to make a stop” or in running back Avon Cobourne’s post-practice conversation when he’s asked about the Montreal Alouettes.
“Honestly I haven’t really been studying them,” Cobourne says of his ex-team. “I really don’t care what they’ve done. We beat them (34-26 in the first of four regular-season meetings this year) and I’m pretty sure we’re going to beat them again.”
For Cobourne that’s confidence dialled back. Normally he’s much more outspoken, but with the game not until Monday, we’ll chalk that up to it being early in the week still.
Quarterback Kevin Glenn is the more soft-spoken, reserved type but no less confident than the brash Cobourne.
Glenn sees things coming along nicely for the Ticats who are 4-4 but showing signs of being much better despite that close loss in Winnipeg.
Again it all comes back to confidence.
“The fact we were trailing 17-3 and came back in that kind of environment tells me a lot,” Glenn said.
“It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a stadium like that, that sounded like that. I think our offence showed something that game. We showed what kind of character we have as a whole and my thing is to continue that. Don’t let it stop there and if we keep playing that way we’ll get some more wins.”
Confidence will be key as the Ticats head into a tough stretch of their schedule that sees them play Montreal in the next two games and three times in their next seven.
Trailing the Als by two points in the standings, the Ticats can do a lot to help themselves secure second overall and with a little help even take a run at first in the East.
Cobourne, one of the veteran newcomers to the Ticats offence has felt that goal within reach since training camp and points to the constant chatter during practice as proof that the necessary comfort level to take that next step is there.
“Volume reflects confidence and it’s like I said, we’re not an overly confident team, but we feel like we know what we have,” Cobourne said Thursday. “If we just do what we need to do and take care of some of those dumb things we do, we’ll definitely be there. I still believe we are the team to beat.
“The way KG (Kevin Glenn) is playing, the way the O-line is blocking and the way the receivers are playing — I mean when Mo (Maurice Mann) went down and (Arland) Bruce (is traded) it’s kind of a question mark but we had the young guys stepping up. We definitely have the pieces.”
Mann was back at practice yesterday with Marquay McDaniel released to make room for him. Even that — losing a veteran teammate — does not appear to have shaken this group.
“It’s the business, we can all see that,” said Glenn pointing out that with three youngsters like Chris Williams, Aaron Kelly and Bakari Grant are all obviously making less than the veteran McDaniel and producing — making the move a no-brainer.
Glenn was asked point blank if he believes the Ticats have closed the gap between themselves and Montreal. Surprisingly he thinks the entire league has by following a game plan of continuity that has made Montreal such a crisp outfit for the past decade or so.
“The teams that stay consistent — and I’ve seen this over 11 years — are usually the teams that win and Montreal has always been that consistent team to where they kept their core together and they’ve won a lot,” Glenn said.
“Here in Hamilton we went through a span where there were three new coaches in three years and it’s tough when you go through that type of situation in professional sports. I don’t care how much talent you have.
“That’s what we are trying to do here and we’re beginning to do it,” Glenn said. “You can see it. You can show it from us plugging in three rookies on offence and still being able to be successful and put ourselves in a position to win games.”