Thursday, 21 June 2012

Hamilton 26, Winnipeg 25

For a preseason game, that sure was intense. Someone must have forgotten to tell the players that the outcome didn't matter because both teams played like a birth in the Grey Cup was on the line. If this is a sign of things to come, the East Division is going to be one tough division to win.


While I hesitate to make a blanket statement after two preseason games, I think I was wrong about Henry Burris. I questioned whether he still had anything left, and so far he has shown that he very much does. Burris looked confident and in command, and if this is the player the Ti-Cats get for a full season, playing a game in late November is a realistic possibility.

Aaron Kelly, filling in for the injured Bakari Grant, had an excellent game. I still, after three weeks of camp and two preseason games, have no idea which receivers the team is going to keep. Kelly's performance, leading the team in yards and receptions, is going to make the decision even more difficult.

Saw some things I liked out of the defensive line, especially newcomer Ronnell Brown. The d-line has been a concern, but they applied a lot of pressure and the defense picked up four sacks on the night. Now th ekey is to do that consistently.

A tiny mention, and perhaps a little campaigning, for Dave Stala. Stala was solid once again and I don't understand why the team doesn't insert him into the starting lineup instead of shuffling the linebacker deck. The fifth receiver slot has been filled by rookie Onrea Jones, so stick Stala in there and let the rookie watch.


The offensive line, missing two starters in Marwan Hage and Belton Johnson, did not do a great job. The holes were not there for the running backs and, most importantly, the pocket seemed to collapse all too frequently around the Ti-Cat quarterbacks. Lucky for them, Burris can make plays on the move, but it was not a good performance from the hogs.

The defense was susceptible to big plays against the Bombers, especially when the orignal play broke down (think the 57-yard bomb to Kito Poblah). Gobbling up huge chunks of yards on one play is a staple in the CFL, so this is something the team will need to correct. They didn't get burned on these plays last week, so it might not be as big of a deal as I am making it out to be.

Final Thoughts

It was nice to see Hamilton end the preseason with a victory, but it was even nicer to see the team play better than they did a week ago against Toronto. The penalties and the turnovers were drastically cut down, and the team played the type of game they need to play to win. The starting defense held Buck Pierce mostly in check (he complete a mere 33 per cent of his passes on the night) and held the Bombers to eight first-half points. The Hamilton offense was able to pretty much move the ball at will, and as has already been mentioned, Burris was magnificent.

The team now turns its gaze even further west to the Saskatchewan Roughriders. But before that, the team will have to get their roster down to the maximum 53 players (46 on the active roster and seven on the practice squad). The team is going to have to make a lot of tough decisions over the next few days.

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