Tiger-Cats not having a ball

Ticats' QB Henry Burris loses the ball against the Blue Bombers on Thursday night. (REUTERS)

Ticats' QB Henry Burris loses the ball against the Blue Bombers on Thursday night. (REUTERS)

MIKE GANTER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:37 PM ET

Henry Burris didn’t want to even consider the possibility.

When the suggestion was made that personnel changes might be in store for the Tabbies this week after a disappointing loss in Winnipeg, Burris quickly came to the defence of his teammates and put the blame for the loss squarely on his own shoulders.

In Burris’ mind, the only reason the Hamilton Tiger-Cats didn’t come away with the win they went to Winnipeg intending to bring back was because he couldn’t hang onto the football.

Four times Burris fumbled the football. Three times the Bombers recovered. Once with Burris on his way into the end zone.

Chris Williams also fumbled the ball once after a lengthy special teams return. The team also turned the ball over twice on downs failing to convert a third on short on two occasions.

That’s a total of six turnovers. The Bombers committed zero.

Hammerin’ Hank though was only interested in blaming himself.

“No changes need to be made,” Burris said. “We just need to keep executing and get better. Bottom line is we protect the ball, regardless of any missed assignments, if we didn’t have the six turnovers we would have won that game. That’s the only change that really needs to happen. Just don’t turn the ball over and we win that game. We made enough plays. We had enough opportunities to put points on the board. If we just don’t give them fuel and momentum by shooting ourselves in the foot with the turnovers I had, we will win that game.”

Burris said he doesn’t care how stupid he looks doing it, he’s prepared to cover up the ball with both arms every time he ventures out of the backfield if that will give his team a better chance of winning.

Head coach George Cortez suggested all but one of Burris’ fumbles were avoidable with the proper focus and attention to detail.

“On one of them he’s in pocket and the guy comes around from behind,” Cortez said. “Those things happen, but the rest of them you have to take care of the football.”

As Burris pointed out he’s been in football long enough and is hard enough on himself to realize what changes he will have to make.

“I have to keep the ball much closer to me,” he said. “Secure it with two arms if I have to but definitely hold onto the ball.”

All that said, the loss has the Ticats at 3-4. They go into Montreal this week and then go back to back with the Argos. They have to find a way to start winning football games.

Yes there were an inordinate number of turnovers in this game, but that hasn’t been the case all year.

So far this Ticats team is playing just average football with a talent base that is well beyond the average level.

Burris may not want to contemplate personnel changes but some sort of change is necessary.

The team is beyond a third of the way through it’s season and have yet to show any of the consistency winning teams have to play with.

Defensive lineman Greg Peach said he had no idea what might happen this week but he seemed to think some kind of shakeup was coming.

“In this business anything can happen,” Peach said. “You just have to roll with the punches. Whatever they decide, they decide.”

On paper, the Blue Bombers had no business even being on the same field as the Tiger-Cats.

Their offence was in tatters. Their defence had lost its swagger and the Winnipeg faithful were calling for the jobs of either the head coach, the GM and in some cases both.

The Bombers responded with desperate football. It wasn’t a coincidence that the four forced fumbles were all committed by guys coming from behind to strip the ball loose.

In some cases the man doing the stripping had already been blocked out of the play but refusing to quit came back and made the play anyway.

Maybe that’s what the Ticats need more of.

Something has to change and soon or a team that seems to have all the pieces necessary for a long playoff run is going to find itself with too little time to recover from these early gaffes.

Some good in the bad

Overshadowed by the demoralizing loss in Winnipeg, was probably the best bit of run defence the Ticats have shown all year.

The Cats went into Winnipeg the worst rush defence in the league allowing teams an average of 145 yards on the ground a game. Thursday night the Bombers were held to under 100 yards rushing.

But true to form for these Ticats, the good bits weren’t sustained for the entire game, and worse, they seemed to come at the cost of one of the poorer nights the Ticats defence has had against the pass.

All week long the emphasis was on stopping Winnipeg running back Chad Simpson.

And for the better part of three quarters, the Hamilton defence did that.

Unfortunately they had no answer for Joey Elliott, the third-year quarterback, who was making just the third start of his CFL career.

“For the most part we did a good job (against the run) I think,” defensive end Greg Peach said. “But then Joey Elliott throws for 400. We can stop the run all day but if the QB is throwing for that much it really doesn’t matter. It wasn’t a good second half performance for our defence.”

The Hamilton offence had a similar day showing lots of promise in the passing game but then negating those advances with poor ball security.

All in all it was one forgetful night for both Ticats units, but one that can’t afford to forget for fear of allowing it to happen again.

 


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