Ticats consistently inconsistent
By MIKE GANTER, QMI Agency
Jekyll and Hyde have gone from a description to an insult in Hamilton.
The lack of consistency the Tiger-Cats have shown this season was a little concerning earlier in the season but, with the playoffs just over a month away, it’s now become the focus of the entire football team.
No job is safe in Hamilton as Marcel Bellefeuille and the Hamilton front office search for a way to put some wins together and once and for all get over the hump and become something better than just an average team playing .500 football.
No one seems to question that the talent is there. It’s just getting that assembled talent to show up on a weekly basis.
The team has not won more than three games in a row this season and not lost more than two in a row although it has done the latter twice.
Defensive lineman Stevie Baggs goes back to a team meeting at the very beginning of the year.
“We kicked all the coaches out, players only and we set goals,” Baggs said. “We haven’t reached those goals yet.”
What Baggs sees is a team that has played well at times, sometimes all three facets playing well together, but when one facet of the Ticats game falls off, the other sides haven’t been able to carry them.
“We haven’t got to the point yet, or at least we’re still learning. opefully last week (a loss to Winnipeg) was the last learning lesson for us on this deal,” Baggs said.
Quinton Porter, who is expected to get some added playing time this week as head coach Marcel Bellefeuille searches for the remedy for the team’s inconsistency, expects that, based on their track record, the Ticats will come out strong Sunday against the Alouettes.
“We know we bounce back from tough games so obviously that’s what we’re looking for this week,” Porter said. “But then, once we start winning again we’re looking to keep winning and this is the time of year we have to start doing this.”
Last Friday’s loss against Winnipeg was one of those games where the offence was off from basically the opening whistle until they were too far behind to make a comeback. The defence kept them in the game for a half but by the third. the Bombers started to pull away.
Montreal has been a good matchup for the Ticats who have two regular season wins, a pre-season win and a regular season loss to the Alouettes.
Baggs believes the key for the Ticats is to win the turnover battle. League stats show the team that has won the turnover battle this year has won all but three games this season. The Alouettes actually won last week against Toronto while losing the turnover battle although they did so only when Dahrran Diedrick turned it over with 53 seconds remaining in the game.
Baggs said the numbers have been even more one-sided for the Ticats this year.
“Every game that we are even on turnovers or better, we win,” Baggs said. “We feel if we can finish every drive with a kick, whether that’s a field goal or a punt, we can win the game.”
A win on Sunday gives the Ticats hope for a home playoff game. A loss means they almost assuredly open on the road.
Either way they have Sunday’s game and three more to get things right before the playoffs, because if they still have this Jekyll and Hyde thing going on, it’s going to be a short playoff run any way you look at it.
Hamilton Tiger-Cats 7-7
at Montreal Alouettes 9-5
TODAY, 1 P.M., PERCIVAL-MOLSON STADIUM TSN, CHML 900 AM
THREE THINGS TO WATCH FOR
1. Questions about Quinton
What everyone will be watching is how Marcel Bellefeuille incorporates Quinton Porter into the offence. Kevin Glenn has been extremely good some weeks but equally bad in others. Using the final four games to get Porter used to various situations while getting the rest of the team comfortable with him will allow Bellefeuille to send in his backup QB without having to worry about any unfamiliarity. Porter will use his speed and size and force the Als to account for a weapon they wouldn’t with Glenn.
2. Easy switch for Webb?
Dee Webb had just three days to learn the Ticats defence. The fact that he’s moving from the zone defence in Toronto to a man-to-man should make the move easier. Webb is familiar with the physical Montreal receivers. He started the Argos’ Aug. 4 game versus Montreal and held Jamel Richardson to four catches for 56 yards. Webb says the key is being just as physical with the receiver as the receiver is with you.
3. Battle of the backs
Brandon Whitaker will not be running against Avon Cobourne or vice-versa but the mentor and the mentored of a year ago in Montreal is still a battle worth watching. Whitaker just went over the 1,000-yard mark and is a couple of hundred yards ahead of Cobourne for the rushing title.
WATCH THAT GUY
In a week where Marcel Bellefeuille has asked his big-time players to step up, none needs to do so more than Stala. Stala was leading the league in touchdowns after eight games but has been shut out in the past six. He’s averaging just over two catches a game in those past seven for 34.5 yards. Bellefeuille needs more from Stala and one better place to do it than the team that in the city where his career began before the Alouettes let him go.
A week after becoming the most prolific passer in professional football, Calvillo might be excused for feeling a little overwhelmed. Not only did he have to deal with the media pressures from within Canada, the U.S. media finally woke up to what he has accomplished in this league. That, and dealing with all the well-wishers and associates that reaching such a milestone breaks with it, have had Calvillo burning the candle at both ends this week. It will be interesting to see if it has any impact on him Sunday.
The Ticats secondary is in a state of flux. Injuries to Jason Shivers, Ryan Hinds, Loyce Means and Milt Collins mean the entire right side of the secondary has a new look. Rookie Woodny Turenne will start at one corner with former Argo Dee Webb lining up at halfback. Carlos Thomas moves back to safety in place of Shivers. Matt Carter remains on the injured list with Glenn McKay remains at wide receiver.
--The Ticats have allowed 400 points this season, second worst in the league behind Saskatchewan.
--Quinton Porter’s best game as a pro came against these Alouettes in 2008 when he threw for five TDs while not being picked off once.
--The forecast is calling for cooler temperatures and some precipitation in Montreal on Sunday. If it is wet, look for Porter to get a bigger chunk of the playing time at QB.
--The Tiger-Cats have allowed their opponents to score first in 10 consecutive games.
Both Hamilton’s Chris Williams and Montreal’s S.J. Green could go over 1,000 yards receiving for the season on Sunday. Williams, the league’s top rookie, goes in with 952 yards, one more than Green.
--On the line for the Alouettes is a home playoff date. Beat the Ticats and they secure at worst a second- place finish in the East and a home playoff date. The Ticats need one more win or a Saskatchewan loss to secure their own spot in the playoffs.
|Tiger-Cats' RB Marcus Thigpen is tackled by Blue Bombers' LB Clint Kent October 7, 2011. (ALEX UROSEVIC/QMI Agency) |