As we begin Week 2 of the CFL regular season, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats will be hosting the Calgary Stampeders for their 2022 home opening game on Saturday at 6:30 pm. They will be facing a Calgary team that is 1-0 after holding on to a close 30 to 27 shootout win in Calgary vs. the Montreal Alouettes. The Stampeders come to Tim Hortons Field with a balanced offence, a competitive defence, and some of the best special teams in the CFL. Hamilton is coming into their home opener with an offence that is being rebuilt, a solid defence, and a special teams unit that has shown the ability to help the Tiger-Cats win the battle of field position.
The Tiger-Cats have spent much of their week working to improve their offence and will need to show significant progress with their offensive line unit to have a chance to play well vs. the Stampeders. One roadblock to that offensive line development has been injuries to offensive linemen Alex Fontana and Kyle Saxelid. It is hopeful that despite these injuries the offensive line will play significantly better than how they played on the road at Saskatchewan. In preparation for this Saturday’s game between the Stampeders and Tiger-Cats, we will be asking the 5 Growling Questions that Hamilton will need to answer on the field to have a chance to win this Week 2 matchup.
Growling Question #1
Will the Tiger-Cats defence be able to disrupt the Stampeders quarterbacks by producing 4 or more quarterback sacks?
The Stampeders come to Hamilton with 2 effective quarterbacks: Bo Levi Mitchell and Jake Maier. Both quarterbacks have shown the ability to spread the ball around their offensive skills players and minimize mistakes. Calgary also has a solid group of receivers that seem to have good chemistry with both of these quarterbacks. It will be important for the Hamilton defence to pass rush effectively and put pressure on these quarterbacks, specifically edge pressure. If the Tiger-Cats can get 4 or more sacks then the potential for these quarterbacks to make errors and turn the ball over increases significantly.
Growling Question #2
Can the Tiger-Cats run defence control the line of scrimmage and hold running back Ka’Deem Carey to less than 4 yards/carry?
One of the strengths of the Tiger-Cats defence is their defensive line and linebacker units. These units will need to work together to stop Ka’Deem Carey who was able to produce 60 yards rushing and 30 yards receiving and scoring 2 touchdowns vs. the Montreal Alouettes in Week 1. The Tiger-Cats need to be able to control the line of scrimmage and force the Stampeder’s offence to become pass-heavy. If the Tiger-Cats can force Calgary to throw, then that allows the defensive backfield of the Tiger-Cats to have a much more significant impact on the outcome of the game.
Growling Question #3
Will the Tiger-Cats offensive line show enough improvement to protect quarterback Dane Evans by giving up less than 3 quarterback sacks?
Last week vs. Saskatchewan, the Tiger-Cats quarterbacks were under heavy fire. The quarterbacks were sacked 8 times and turned the ball over 5 times (3 fumbles, 2 interceptions). Early this week, quarterback Dane Evans was criticized for not playing as well as expected in Week 1. But when a quarterback is constantly under pressure, does not have time to go through his read progression, and is forced to get the ball out quickly the entire game, then for most quarterbacks, the result is that they are going to struggle. It is critical, that the Tiger-Cats offensive line is stabilized and develops into a cohesive unit.
Growling Question #4
Can the Tiger-Cats offensive running game produce 4 yards/carry?
This metric is also directly tied to the offensive line. If the Tiger-Cats can use their running game to stay out of 2nd and long situations, then it allows offensive coordinator Tommy Condell to show more creativity offensively. Last week, the Tiger-Cats offence faced 17 2nd and long situations, in those situations opponents can pass rush aggressively and drop into coverage with confidence against the Tiger-Cats passing game. Having the ability to run the ball effectively with their running backs would potentially allow the Tiger-Cats to diversify their offensive attack.
Growling Question #5
Will the Tiger-Cats be able to win the +/- turnover battle?
Last week vs. the Roughriders, the Tiger-Cats turned the ball over 5 times and the Hamilton defence only produced 1 takeaway. If the Tiger-Cats are going to have a chance to beat a quality team like the Stampeders they will need to take care of the ball, and also produce takeaways. The team that wins the turnover battle oftentimes is also the team that wins the game.
Heading into their Week 2 matchup vs. the Stampeders, the Tiger-Cats will need to play much better offensively. The offensive line needs to come together and play well as a unit. It will be exciting to see if Hamilton has been able to find solutions to the problems they faced in Week 1. If improvements are made then they have a good chance to win their home opener and get the 2022 season going in the right direction.
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