Ticats: Lest they forget

Quarterback Henry Burris believes the talent level on the Ticats will begin to assert itself once...

Quarterback Henry Burris believes the talent level on the Ticats will begin to assert itself once the new-look team has had an opportunity build some chemistry. (Ernest Doroszuk, QMI AGENCY)

FRANK ZICARELLI, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:15 PM ET

They’ve turned the page from last week’s season-opening embarrassment by turning their attention to the B.C. Lions, the CFL’s reigning champions who play host to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats this Friday night.

It’s all well and good to impose rules that forbid players from recalling a play from the previous week, a coach from re-enacting a sequence that led to a breakdown and touchdown from an opponent, but impressions linger and the stench of a rude awakening should serve as a wakeup call.

And that’s precisely where the Ticats find themselves. It’s a team that’s had barely a month to learn the many new faces and new schemes on both sides of the ball, but it’s a team with high expectations in a year that’s as big as any in Tiger Town.

“We’re not lacking confidence on this team,’’ Henry Burris began following Tuesday’s gathering a at Ivor Wynne Stadium, where lightning in the distant sky provided an ominous backdrop to the proceedings. “We’ve learned a valuable lesson and we’re going to get better.”

A critic can argue that it can’t get worse, when a team with so many offensive weapons, on paper anyway, can produce the grand total of three second-half points.

A naysayer can question why no adjustments were made after seeing Weston Dressler simply torch Hamilton’s defence en route to helping Saskatchewan demolish the host Ticats 43-16.

With no pressure applied from Hamilton’s front four and no ability to finish drives when the offence did mount some semblance of consistency, there was a lot to worry about. And yet, all those worries are now in the past.

What should be worrisome is if the Ticats fail to learn from Friday’s folly, a point Smilin’ Hank was trying to hammer home, indicating the team has yet to find its comfort zone in the face of so many changing faces.

“Mental mistakes,’’ added Burris when discussing what went wrong against Saskatchewan. “We need to clue in on what’s going on. We can’t be making these mental mistakes again because they end up as touchdowns for the opposition.”

In the Lions, the Ticats face an opponent that has picked up where it left off when Wally Buono was last seen walking off into the sunset by stepping down as head coach and turning his attention full-time as general manager.

Some believe this year’s version of the Lions is better than the 2011 model, citing a more experienced quarterback in Travis Lulay as the main reason.

The Ticats, needless to say, will have their hands full in one of those classic early-season must-wins with the Argos looming.

It’s no secret the margin for error in the CFL is as slim as it’s ever been, games literally hanging in the balance of one play.

But momentum is a tricky proposition and what the Ticats need to develop is some kind of roll to validate all the change that’s been initiated with this organization. A win last week could have bought some time, but the time is now to for the talent that seems to be present on this club to step forward.

“We have the weapons to get it done,’’ said Burris. “You can tell we’re still building chemistry and we’ve gotten a lot better this week.”

Music has been piped in to simulate a road environment, the expected tweaks in personnel groupings are visible, but this is a bottom-line business. And the bottom line with the Ticats is that they need a win.

After all, a loss this week and the mood in The Hammer suddenly turns sour.


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