hammered by the visiting Riders last night, the Ti-Cats are going to have to make some changes if they hope to get things back on track when they head west to take on the defending champs on Friday.
There were a lot of questionable decisions made by the team. For starters, the decision to dress just one running back was incredibly risky. Also, Walker looked great, but he's not an inside runner. Having Cobourne there to pick up those tough yards in between the tackles could have made a slight difference. The two should be used in tandem, with Walker's speed being used late in games when the opposing defense is tired.
Secondly, the decision to start Kevin Eiben did not work out. He was not a difference maker at all and I can't recall hearing his name called more than once or twice. I know the ratio is a factor, and I know that some say Knowlton has lost a step, but I can't imagine anyone would say Eiben was a significant step up. I don't know what the answer is, but head coach George Cortez did say that the ratio would be fluid, so he needs to figure out a way to juggle the lineup to get Knowlton back in there.
Thirdly, all those concerns about the lines still don't look like they've been addressed. On the defensive side, Durant faced very little pressure from the front four, but the Riders also made use of quick passes to negate any type of pass rush. Not being able to adjust to stopping Weston Dressler on those screens is more concerning that a lack of pressure on Durant, in my opinion, but the line will still need to be better if the team is going to be better. On the offensive side, Burris didn't have much chance to get settled in the pocket and this is where the decision to sit Cobourne may have had the biggest impact. The Ti-Cats don't have a fullback in the traditional sense of the word – Darcy Brown is listed as a fullback, but he didn't play that position until he was drafted by Hamilton – so the team needs a good blocking running back to help out from time to time. As good as Chevon Walker was last night, he's not the kind of blocker that Cobourne is.
Finally, the team traded away Glenn for Henry Burris so that they could open up the passing game with more downfield throws. But aside from the called-back bomb to Chris Williams, I do not remember more than a couple of passes that traveled in the air further than 20 yards. I know Saskatchewan's defense played well and that Hamilton's offensive line didn't give Burris much time to find someone deep, but the Ti-Cats still have to take their shots.
I, as much as anyone, bought into, and help propogate, the hype surrounding this team. I got excited based on what I saw out of the offense, Burris especially, during the preseason and training camp, and started to get a little ahead of myself. I know as well as anyone that when a team makes a boatload of changes, like the Ti-Cats did, things don't go smoothly right away. I still think this is a good team and one that is fully capable of finishing the first five weeks strong – though my hope of a 4-1 record at the end of July is pretty much down the toilet – so I'm not overly concerned with one terrible outing.
That said, the Ti-Cats do have to make some changes in order to get things on track. When a team loses by nearly 30 points, it's not just some tinkering that needs to be done. But one game does not define a season and while this one game was a terrible one, there will be better ones ahead.