Thursday, 23 June 2011

Hamilton 57, Montreal 20

No, that score is not a typo. The Cats really did beat the Als by 37 in each team's final preseason matchup. Before we all go planning the parade route, remember that this was a preseason game. While I am as excited as anyone to see the Cats thump the Als, I'm not going to go overboard. But while there are a couple of areas that still need to be addressed, there was a lot to like tonight's performance.

There are many places I could start, but I'm going to kick things off by heaping a world of praise onto Quinton Porter. He played magnificently! He had a command of the Offense the likes of which I haven't seen from him in his entire time with the Cats. He played superbly and looks poised to become the player we all hoped he would be. Kudos to Quinton on a stellar performance.

The entire running game was like a breath of fresh air. All the Running Backs hit the hole hard. There was very little hesitation from any of them. It was awesome to see Cobourne in his new threads. He is going to be a difference maker for this team. I also think Terry Grant won the battle with Glenn Milner. Grant was phenomenal tonight, and I would be stunned if he wasn't named to the squad – with Milner probably going on the Practice Roster – when final cuts are made this week. Great job by all of them, but especially Grant and Cobourne.

The return game looks to be deadly again. Not only did Marcus Thigpen take one to the house on a kickoff, but newcomer Chris Williams took a punt all the way home as well. If those two line up on kickoffs together, it will truly be a pick-your-poison scenario for the opposing team.

I have to give major kudos to both Bakari Grant and Aaron Kelly. Both players, vying for a position in the stacked Hamilton receiving corps, played extremely well. Bakari Grant laid out for a catch near the end of the game that showed just how much he wants to make this team.

Eric Wilbur and Justin Medlock are not making it easy. Wilbur did miss a chip-shot 21-yard field goal tonight, but he also made a 49-yard field goal as well. Medlock went a perfect four-for-four, with a long of 34 yards. It was a fairly even performance from both men. It is going to be hard to choose one.

I liked the focus that seemed to be put on stripping the football. Two fumble recoveries not long after one another – one on Special Teams and one on Defense – is a good sign. Creating turnovers and cashing in on them is key. When you win the turnover battle, you usually win the game. The emphasis that seems to have been put on stripping the football can only help the Cats.

The interior of the Defensive Line is worrisome. The Als, on many occasions, ran up the gut almost at will. If that trend continues, the Cats could be very susceptible to power running and quite vulnerable during those tough, grind-it-out type games. Hopefully this gets straightened out sooner rather than later.

The Secondary played well, but it is still very clearly a work in progress. I liked what I saw out of rookie Chris Rwambukamba, but I also believe he sustained an injury tonight. I hope it is not too serious, as he has been one of the bright spots of an otherwise suspect Secondary.

Final Thoughts
Tonight's win will mean nothing if the Cats don't win on Canada Day. It was nice to get a very convincing win, but in a week's time, the result won't matter.

But the Offense seems to be in fine form, and this team looks like it will be able to score with anybody in the league. The addition of Avon Cobourne looks to have added that special element that was missing the last couple of years.

It was fun to be at Ivor Wynne again, and witnessing a butt-kicking extravaganza, even if it was only the preseason, was fun nonetheless. Preseason or not, it is rare to see one team score 57 points on another. While it doesn't matter in the grand scheme of things, it is still mighty impressive. It was fun to be on the winning side of a whooping like that. Hopefully the confidence that the team gained from pounding the Als will carry over into next week when the results mean something.

Tonight was a very nice way to end the preseason. Now, let's get ready for Canada Day.

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