As the Hamilton Tiger-Cats have battled through a 1-5 start, the Tiger-Cats have referenced that they are working to play well when they face their East division. This week starts a 7 out of 8 game stretch in which the Tiger-Cats will face their rival teams in the East, and these games will determine the fate of the 2022 Tiger-Cats.
Hamilton has shown the ability to play well at times against any team in the CFL, but they have also shown the ability to beat themselves at some point in every game so far this season. The Tiger-Cats are 1-0 against the East division, but that win was against a struggling Ottawa team that has been beaten down with injuries.
If the Tiger-Cats are going to have a chance to get a critical win against the Montreal Alouettes at 7:30 pm at Tim Hortons Field then they will have to be fundamentally sound. Dane Evans mentioned, “we got to come out and play, we got to be physical.” The Alouettes have had one of the best running games in the CFL so far in 2022, and it will be important for the Tiger-Cats to match the physical level of the Alouettes.
In addition, Montreal has also had an efficient passing game led by quarterback Trevor Harris and receiver Eugene Lewis. Also, backup quarterback Dominique Davis leads the CFL with 7 touchdowns, which is a result of his skill with regards to picking up critical yards in short yardage and goal-line situations. The Tiger-Cats will need to play efficient football, protect the ball, finish their drives, and force the Alouettes to turn the ball over. Let’s take a look at the statistical areas that the Tiger-Cats need to win in to get this win against the Alouettes.
Growling Question #1
Can the Tiger-Cats defence pressure Trevor Harris and produce 4 or more quarterback sacks?
Trevor Harris has been an efficient leader for the Alouettes offence. He has produced 1,312 passing yards and has thrown 5 touchdowns. Receiver Eugene Lewis has been an effective weapon for Harris with 465 yards on 28 catches.
The Tiger-Cats will have extra strength in their defensive secondary with the addition of Cariel Brooks who has been activated from the injury list for the first time in 2022. It will be important for the Tiger-Cats defensive line to pressure Harris, get him to move off of his spot, and force him into poor decisions. The Hamilton defence will need to force the Alouettes out of their high-efficiency game plan.
Growling Question #2
Will the Tiger-Cats defensive front seven be able to stop Alouettes running back Jeshrun Antwi by holding the Montreal running game to less than 4.0 yards/carry?
This will be a huge challenge for the Tiger-Cats defence with the Alouettes coming into the game with a powerful running game. Antwi is currently averaging 7.1 yards/carry, and that is a reflection of physical play by the Alouette’s offensive line.
The Tiger-Cats will have to bring a higher level of physical play and work to get the Alouettes behind the chains as often as possible. If Hamilton can get the Montreal offence into 2nd and long situations then they can force the Alouettes offence into being 1-dimensional. With the addition of Alden Darby Jr. as a contributor at the strongside linebacker, the Tiger-Cats may have some additional run support.
Growling Question #3
Can the Tiger-Cats offensive line protect Dane Evans and give up 2 or fewer quarterback sacks?
This has been an area of weakness for the Tiger-Cats offence. Dane Evans has very rarely looked comfortable this season, and this has resulted in Evans being a turnover machine. If the Tiger-Cats want better offensive results then they will have to protect Evans, and a big part will be establishing an effective running game.
So far this season Dane Evans is the leading rusher for the Tiger-Cats with 99 yards rushing. Once again the offensive line is having to change their lineup with right tackle Chris Van Zeyl being added to the 6-game injured list. That has forced the Tiger-Cats to move Colin Kelly to right tackle, and then start Travis Vornkahl at left tackle. The offensive line will have to adjust quickly and find a way to perform at a high level.
Growling Question #4
Will the Tiger-Cats be able to score 3 or more touchdowns?
Recently this has been the deciding factor for the Tiger-Cats. Each game the Tiger-Cats have played this year they have had red zone opportunities that would have given them the win if they could have scored touchdowns. Many times they haven’t even scored field goals on those red zone trips, so they have been leaving large amounts of points on the field.
If they want to win big games, and this is a big game for the Tiger-Cats, then they have to be able to score regularly. That will be a little more challenging this week with punt/kick returner Lawrence Wood III being ruled out for this week’s game. Who will step up and score touchdowns for the Tiger-Cats?
Growling Question #5
Can the Tiger-Cats win the +/- turnover battle?
Hamilton has lost the turnover consistently. The part that hurts the Tiger-Cats the most is that at least one of their turnovers has set the opponent up for an easy score every week. If the Tiger-Cats want to win they will have to stop working so hard to defeat themselves each week. Protect the ball on offence and get takeaways on defence. This would allow the Tiger-Cats to generate excitement and momentum and improve their performance as a team.
For the Tiger-Cats to beat the Alouettes, they do not have to do anything extraordinary. They just need to play a clean fundamental game and take advantage of opportunities. If they can prevent their own mistakes and score in the red zone, they will have a great chance to win this game. But if they continue the trend of self-destructive behavior then why would anyone expect them to win. At 7:30 pm on Thursday, it will be crunch time for the Tiger-Cats as they face the Alouettes for the opportunity to be tied for 2nd place in the East division.
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