The 2022 regular season begins this week, and the Tiger-Cats open the season with an interesting week 1 match-up with the Saskatchewan Roughriders at 7 pm on Saturday, June 11th. Historically, the Tiger-Cats have struggled to play well on the road in Saskatchewan. Saskatchewan has a loyal following of fans and usually has good attendance for games. These factors create a challenging atmosphere for the Tiger-Cats offense in particular the offensive line.
The Tiger-Cats offense is led by Dane Evans, who has a reputation for being an efficient game manager at quarterback. On the Roughrider’s side, Cody Fajardo has a very similar reputation, Fajardo is also viewed as a game-managing quarterback that can use athleticism to create opportunities to keep drives alive. The running game and offensive line for both teams have both struggled in the pre-season. A big advantage for the Roughriders is their wide receiver unit, in the off-season, Saskatchewan acquired additional offensive weapons in hopes to create more explosive play opportunities for Fajardo.
While the Roughriders have invested in their receiver corps, the Tiger-Cats defence brings the best collection of defensive backs in the CFL. It will be critical for the Tiger-Cats to prevent the Saskatchewan offence from creating explosive plays and takeaways. Considering these factors we will look at the 5 Growling Questions that will determine the winner of this match-up.
Growling Question #1
Will the Tiger-Cats defense be able to hold the Saskatchewan receivers to 2 or fewer touchdowns?
During the off-season, the Roughriders realized that they needed to bring more playmakers to their offense if quarterback Cody Fajardo is going to be able to play at a higher level. Wide receivers Duke Williams and Shaq Evans are widely viewed as the two best receivers in the CFL. Both of these receivers have elite speed and can be explosive playmakers. The Tiger-Cats need to contain and disrupt these players to give their offense a chance to keep up with this Roughrider’s offense.
Growling Question #2
Can the Tiger-Cats defensive front pressure Cody Fajardo into committing 3 or more turnovers?
A well-established opinion of Cody Fajardo is that when he is given time and security, he is capable of being efficient and leading an offense successfully. It is also well-known that if Fajardo is under pressure he tends to not finish his read progressions, become reckless with the ball, and can be forced into making errors that lead to turnovers. This gives the Tiger-Cats defensive front led by Simoni Lawrence, a chance to control the game and set up the Tiger-Cats offense for good field position and create scoring opportunities.
Growling Question #3
Will the Tiger-Cat’s special teams continue to be special, and score a special teams touchdown?
There is no doubt that the Hamilton special teams units will be a critical part of the puzzle with regards to the Tiger-Cats winning games in the 2022 season. In the 2 pre-season games in 2022, the Tiger-Cats special teams were able to score a touchdown in each game. If the Tiger-Cats can score a touchdown on a kick return or a punt return, the momentum of the game will immediately be shifted in favor of the Tiger-Cats.
Growling Question #4
Can the Tiger-Cats running game generate 4+ yards/carry?
In the preseason, the Tiger-Cats rushing offense struggled to produce rushing yards consistently. This is a mix of the need for the Hamilton offensive line to create chemistry and learn to control the point of attack, and the ability for the Tiger-Cats running backs to be effective rushers and pick up the hard yards. The Hamilton running game needs to be capable of picking up these yards to extend offensive drives and score in goal-line situations.
Growling Question #5
Will quarterback Dane Evans be able to produce at least 7 yards/passing attempt?
Dane Evans comes into the 2022 season with the ability to be an efficient, game manager. With a receiver unit that is in the process of being re-built, Evans will need to be able to create situations that allow his playmakers to use their strengths to move the ball consistently.
To win this game Hamilton will need to be able to handle the stress of playing on the road at Saskatchewan. The Tiger-Cat’s defensive, offensive, and special teams units will need to work cohesively together to allow the team to win. Regardless of the outcome of this game, we will learn about the 2022 Hamilton Tiger-Cats and what they will need to do to be successful this season.
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