Ticats defence flourishing early under Orlondo Steinauer

Tiger-Cats' John Delahunt hangs onto the pigskin as Arland Bruce takes a seat during Thursday's...

Tiger-Cats' John Delahunt hangs onto the pigskin as Arland Bruce takes a seat during Thursday's pre-season game at Molson Stadium. The Ticats had three interceptions. (QMI Agency)

TERRY KOSHAN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:46 AM ET

TORONTO - One pre-season game and already the Hamilton Tiger-Cats’ defence is benefitting from the leadership of Orlondo Steinauer.

Hired by the Ticats in January to be the defensive co-ordinator, Steinauer was known in his Canadian Football League playing days as a versatile all-star who loved nothing more than to come down with the football when it was intended for an opposing receiver.

The Ticats had three interceptions in their opening pre-season game, a 33-26 victory in Montreal against the Alouettes on Thursday night, and the impact of Steinauer, who spent the previous three seasons on the Argonauts’ coaching staff, was clear.

“Orlondo is a smart guy,” said Ricardo Colclough, who had one of the Ticats’ picks.

“It always helps to have a coach who played the game and knows the game instead of having a coach who hasn’t really been around the game a lot. He has put us in a position to make plays.

“He has given us the freedom to play ball, whereas last year we had a lot of miscommunication and there was a lot of thinking going on. When there’s a lot of thinking in the game, it’s hard to play fast.”

Steinauer was all about playing aggressive football in a 13-year CFL career that saw him earn all-star honours at cornerback, defensive back and safety.

The 40-year-old’s philosophy was the same when he was the defensive backs coach and defensive co-ordinator with the Argos, so it’s no surprise it has carried forward to Steeltown.

Steinauer took over a defence that allowed 576 points a year ago and was on the field an average of 32 minutes five seconds a game, the most in the league.

He wants the defence to find a consistent level of creating at least four or five turnovers a game.

“If we are going to turn the corner, we need to get the ball to our offence as many times (as possible),” Steinauer said. “I don’t look at the ball in the air as 50-50. It has to be 80-20 (in favour of) us.”

While most observers want to include the Ticats’ dismal 6-12 record in 2012, one that caused them to miss the playoffs, in the narrative, Steinauer does not. Still, he sees the need to remember what happened and why it did, even though he was not close to the situation.

Does he have the pieces to build the kind of defence he wants?

“I understand what happened (last season), but there is no added pressure,” Steinauer said. “We are going to go out there and do what we do. I think when we look at the film, we did some really good things.

“Whether we have the pieces or not, we probably won’t know until Labour Day. There are always roster moves, unless we have the guys and we stick it out with them. That is the long-winded answer to ‘Time will tell.’

Steinauer wants players who aren’t afraid to take risks, but at the same time keep the greater good in mind. Colclough, from his wide-side linebacker position, led the Ticats with six tackles against the Alouettes, beefing up a charge at a starting role.

Cornerback Arthur Hobbs also had an interception, as did linebacker Erik Harris, a pick that scuttled the Alouettes’ final drive of the game.

“The guys were in position to make plays and that’s the main thing,” Steinauer said. “When they get a chance to watch themselves on film, they will understand that they need to go up and come down with (interceptions that were missed). Hopefully they are harder on themselves than I am on them and that will result in more plays the next game.

“It’s just a starting point. I’m ready to head to Guelph (for the Ticats’ second pre-season game on June 20) and play another one.”

LAMAR STEPPING UP

Lindsey Lamar is trying to replace someone he knows little about.

Even if the someone in question is Chris Williams, who has not reported to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats because of a contract dispute.

Williams, when he was not hauling in passes to the tune of 1,298 receiving yards, led the Canadian Football League in punt return yards last season with 1,117.

Lamar returned a punt 88 yards against the Montreal Alouettes for a touchdown in Thursday’s pre-season game. He had 134 yards on six returns in total, and caught three passes for 46 yards.

“I have heard of him, I have heard players talk about him, and I know he is a great player, but that’s all,” Lamar said of Williams.

“I’m just focusing on my team and the things I can be better at. I’m just grateful for the opportunity they gave me to showcase my talents.”

Of his return for a major, which came in the second quarter, Lamar said: “I just thought that coaches drew it up just perfectly. They put me in the best position to make a play and my teammates blocked it up perfectly, and it was a great play. I don’t remember getting touched.”


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