Lions find rhythm, Ticats still looking

Alouettes defensive back Seth Williams interrupts a pass intended for Tiger-Cats wide receiver...

Alouettes defensive back Seth Williams interrupts a pass intended for Tiger-Cats wide receiver Chris Williams in Montreal, Que., Oct. 16, 2011. (CHRISTINNE MUSCHI/Reuters)

FRANK ZICARELLI, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:46 PM ET

HAMILTON - Saturday night’s visit by the red-hot B.C. Lions provides the host Ticats with an opportunity for self-analysis.

With the playoffs looming, getting on a roll at this time of the year is as important as getting healthy.

And no team is rolling better than the Lions, a team Hamilton beat earlier in the season when B.C. was in the throes of a losing skid.

Even if the Ticats are unable to stop B.C.’s eight-game winning streak, what’s at stake goes beyond wins and losses.

For the Ticats, it’s a question of getting on the same page and being in a position to compete in the fourth quarter.

With three games remaining before a likely road playoff game awaits, momentum must be established, the compete level Hamilton showed in Montreal last Sunday must be carried over and attention to detail must be exercised.

“This is our livelihood,’’ Kevin Glenn began. “The energy and commitment should always be there because football is what we do for a living. When you watch B.C., they’re playing great right now.

“In a game like this, your focus and attention to detail has to be even greater. It’s what you have to do because that team is on such a roll.

“That’s just the nature of professional sports. When a team is on a roll and in rhythm, it’s hard to bring them down.”

Overlooked in last Sunday’s two-point loss to the Als was a failed two-point convert that would have sent the game into overtime.

Many pointed to Quinton Porter as the main culprit, citing a perceived late release for an end zone incompletion to Aaron Kelly.

Truth be told is was the rookie Kelly who broke off his route when the Als secondary basically busted its coverage.

That small detail, which required Kelly to continue his route, essentially was the difference in a 27-25 Hamilton loss.

“The coaching point you take is that you continue to take your normal route,’’ Porter said. “You have to take your full depth and get the full route.

“I know on television, they kept saying how I threw late, but all I can do is take my full drop.”

As Kelly came out of his break, Porter had yet to complete his full drop, providing an illustration of a team that has yet to find its rhythm.

It was of little consolation, but at least the Ticats showed a sense of urgency in Montreal that was questioned a week earlier in a crushing home loss to Winnipeg.

“If people get a fire under their belly at the right time, we can be an amazing team,’’ Porter said. “We have to harness that mentality and not have to go through a loss to get that fire.

“That’s what we’re looking for in the last three games and the playoffs.”

As of this week, the CFL’s measuring stick remains the Lions, a team battling for first in the West.

The ride B.C. is on may feature the team playing host to both the Western final and the Grey Cup.

“Confidence is one, humility is another,’’ Lions head coach Wally Buono said in reflecting on the reasons for his team’s revival following an 0-5 start.

“And trying to understand why you’re winning. A lot of it has to do with work ethic. A lot of it has to do with preparation. And when you look at practice, these guys work hard and prepare hard. That’s a big part of why you can get on a roll.”

Whatever happens in the ensuing weeks, Buono does not want to see any signs of complacency.

“The human makeup is such that when things are going well, there’s a tendency to want to relax, to want to enjoy, as they say, the flowers,” he added. “But if you are aware of that and then consciously do something about it ...

“I mean, our best practice in weeks was last Thursday. It was a great practice and this was in the midst of seven wins in a row, so you would think guys are saying: ‘Are these coaches idiots? Why are we in pads, why are we killing each other?’ But it was a tremendous practice.

“To me, that shows you the character of your team. You don’t have to hammer on them all the time to get them to do what you want them to do, right? And that’s a tremendous trait.”

CHANGING OF THE GUARD

Arland Bruce III makes his return to the Hammer Saturday night. When Bruce was sent packing to B.C., the Ticats allowed their young receiving unit to grow, a process that accelerated when Maurice Mann and his veteran hands landed in Toronto. What remains is talent and youth in the form of Chris Williams, Bakari Grant and Aaron Kelly, three players who are each in their first year in the CFL. Here’s a look at their totals.

Chris Williams

Rec. Yards Avg. Long Tds

60 1,012 15.6 71 6

Bakari Grant

Rec. Yards Avg. Long Tds

31 392 12.6 43 1

Aaron Kelly

Rec. Yards Avg. Long Tds

20 311 15.6 34 1

frank.zicarelli@sunmedia.ca


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