Ticats won't trash-talk Bombers

Dave Stala is the only Ticats' receiver to appear in all 18 regular season games for Hamilton in...

Dave Stala is the only Ticats' receiver to appear in all 18 regular season games for Hamilton in 2011. (REUTERS)

Mike Ganter, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:51 PM ET

Khari Jones has to feel like the guy who escapes the teeth of the lion only to find himself in shark-infested waters.

That’s what it is like going from an upset win in Montreal and moving on to face the best defence in the CFL.

“No, it doesn’t get any easier,” the Ticats offensive coordinator said chuckling at the enormity of the task that awaits in Sunday’s Eastern final in Winnipeg. “(The Bombers) are the best defence in the league and we know that. They have gotten us three times this season and we know we have a battle on our hands. We just have to come in with the same work ethic we had last week and good things will happen, but we know we have a tough task. It’s tough playing in that stadium, the whole thing. We know it will be a battle.”

And it is because of those factors that Jones has no worries about his offence coming in even the slightest bit over confident despite the way they shredded Montreal’s defence just three short days ago.

“Believe me they won’t be coming in fat,” Jones said. “We have lost to this team three times already and if they do, all I have to do is put any one of those games on to remind them of the test we have in front of us. I don’t think I have to worry about that. We have a good group of guys and they won’t rest on this ... Just because we had one good game I don’t think these guys will be resting on it and I’ll make sure they won’t be.”

Jones isn’t one to bark at his players, but he will if need be and did last Monday when he felt his receivers weren’t paying attention to the drills he was asking of them. His tongue-lashing would have made a nun blush, but in his mind it was necessary.

“It just needed to be done,” Jones said. “Believe me, that is out of character for me and it’s not something I like to do because it’s not me. But if I see something happening I have to pay attention to it and respond to it and those guys responded to it as well. It has probably happened two or three times all season. Normally I like to be pretty calm and be more of a teacher out there but football is an emotional game and if you’re not paying attention and not ready to go then you are going to get beat. I just wanted to let them know this was not the time to be messin’ around.”

And Jones has too much respect for Winnipeg’s defence to put up with any messin’ around this week.

Jones said he does not foresee any more of the back and forth between the two teams like there was earlier this year when the Ticats, led by veteran Dave Stala, openly questioned the Bombers choosing the Swaggerville nickname for it’s defence.

“I think one of the things we have done a good job of especially last week was really putting the attention more on ourselves than even our opponent,” Jones said. “I think we got caught up during the year thinking about our opponents in different ways. Really you have to realize it’s what we do. I think they realize that now. We know this is a good team and they’ve earned their monicker. They had the best defence in the league and so you can call yourself what you want to. We are the underdogs who have to go in there and try and fight them.”

Winnipeg owns the best passing defence in the league which could intimidate some, but then Montreal had the best rushing defence and the Ticats ran up 167 yards in the ground game on the Als.

What Jones knows is the Tiger-Cats have the ability to go to the run or the pass game with equal confidence.

An inconsistent year has seen some of the highest highs and enough of the lowest lows, but Jones feels things have levelled off at just the right time for the Ticats.

They expect to come back with basically the same personnel that did a number on the Als. That alone is a departure from the seasonal norm when the backfield was a revolving door and only Stala from the receiving corps managed to start all 18 games.

“It has been a crazy year as far as that goes,” Jones said. “It was hit and miss on a lot of guys. Probably three or four of the guys who will play (in the receiving rotation) on Sunday you wouldn’t have thought they would be playing at the beginning of the year.”

But that uncertainty has been replaced by a quiet confidence that not even a venture into the shark-infested waters at Canad Inns stadium where the league’s most ferocious defence swims, can damage.

mike.ganter@sunmedia.ca

 


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