July 11, 2012
Ticats lineman Dyakowski optimisticSees positives heading into game against Argos
By FRANK ZICARELLI, QMI Agency
HAMILTON - As he normally does after strapping on a helmet and shoulder pads, Peter Dyakowski would leave everything out on the football field.
On this particular evening, Hamilton’s veteran offensive guard was left with a feeling he hopes serves as a springboard for his beleaguered team.
In Tiger Town, the mood shifts from week to week, elation when victory is achieved, depression when the losses begin to mount, no matter the opposition.
But as the Argos get set to come to town, Dyakowski isn’t lamenting Hamilton’s 0-2 start.
Instead, he’s emboldened by the way Hamilton’s offence ended last week’s game in B.C.
“As disappointing as it was,’’ began Dyakowski as he reflected on his team’s 39-36 loss to the defending Grey Cup champions, “the fact that we finished out with drives is encouraging and heartening because we came off the field feeling like if we get on the field again we would have scored no matter what.”
But on this night, Hamilton’s defence could not force a change in possession, unable to stop B.C.’s run game when everyone knew the Lions would turn to the ground attack to run out the clock.
More than anything, inconsistency has characterized these Ticats, who entered the season amid plenty of fanfare and expectations.
Defensively, there’s plenty of work that needs to be done, a unit that opened the year by yielding 43 points in a bitter home loss to Saskatchewan.
While improvements were made in B.C., the Ticats’ inability to stop the Lions late in the game did reveal a mental and physical toughness that somehow must get addressed.
Offensively, though, the Ticats did finish strong and now comes the task of building on that momentum.
“There’s confidence,” Dyakowski added. “We know we’ve got it, we know we’re close, but for us we have to put together a full game.
“We have an incredible roster and we’re working to become an incredible team.”
On paper, there’s a lot to like about Hamilton’s offence, a unit that features an emerging talent in rookie tailback Chevon Walker, a big-play talent capable of turning any routine run or reception into a touchdown.
Henry Burris did get pulled in B.C., but the way the Ticats moved the ball in the fourth quarter speaks to a team that can pile up points.
In two scoring drives, Hamilton would run 19 plays, produce 150 yards and control the clock for almost eight minutes.
As good as the Ticats looked in that final quarter, they were just as bad during stretches, too many two and outs, turnovers and incapable of dealing with B.C.’s pressure.
In many ways, it was reminiscent of the team’s opening-night woes against Saskatchewan, a night when the Ticats managed all of three points in the second half of a 43-16 loss.
While the Lions play a predominantly zone look on defence, the Argos will mix it up, will give different looks up front and will send pressure from different angles and positions.
The teams met in the pre-season, but very little should be gleaned from that evening in the Hammer.
Saturday’s matchup is the first of four between the two historic rivals this season.
Clearly, the pressure is on the Ticats, who can ill afford an 0-3 beginning.
Protecting Burris will be key, as it always is, getting Walker the ball in space in favourable matchups looms large and there’s both a deep threat in Chris Williams and an over the middle presence in Andy Fantuz that are more than capable of making plays.
“Everybody knows the history between Hamilton and Toronto,” Ticat special teams ace Ike Brown said.
TURNING OVER TURNOVER RATE
The CFL is as much a numbers game as it is a game of blocking and tackling, scheming and persevering.
Other than the final score, no number is as important as the giveaway/takeaway and the Ticats find themselves behind the eight ball two games into the season.
Not surprisingly, Hamilton hasn’t been able to post a win when not a single turnover has been forced.
Throw in the six turnovers the Ticats have produced and a minus-6 emerges as the key stat heading into Saturday night’s slugfest against the visiting Argos.
The way Hamilton’s offence finished the game in last week’s loss in B.C. at least provides hope.
It’s on defence where the Ticats need to step up, especially with Ricky Ray coming to town and feeling much more comfortable in his new Double Blue surroundings.
In Casey Creehan, the Ticats have a new defensive co-ordinator who, naturally, has installed a new system in Tiger Town, a scheme that requires time to adjust.
In Week 1, Weston Dressler could not be stopped, hauling in 13 passes for 180 yards and three touchdowns as Saskatchewan racked up 500 net yards on offence.
In Week 2, Andrew Harris rushed for 147 yards on 13 carries as B.C. produced 208 rushing yards on the night.
Whether it’s pressure that leads to sacks or the quarterback getting rid of the football early, whether it’s being more stout on the line of scrimmage or tighter in the back end, the onus is on Hamilton’s defence.
“You have to read the keys he’s telling you to read and you have to get to (spots) where he’s telling you to get to,”
Tough as nails middle linebacker Rey Williams said of the Creehan system. “If you don’t, one guy will destroy a whole play. Between the defensive line and the linebackers, everyone has to get where they’re supposed to be on every single play. You can’t have a mental lapse.”
Two games in and far too many have unfolded.