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5 Growling Questions: Tiger-Cats host the Argonauts in the Battle of the QEW 2.0

The 2-6 Tiger-Cats are coming into Week 10 of the CFL season feeling the sting from last week’s 34-20 loss to the Argonauts at BMO Field in Week 9. Saturday’s game was a great example of the challenges the Tiger-Cats have been facing in 2022. Hamilton started the game fast and looked like a team that was ready to take the next step with regards to climbing the East division standings.

But in the 2nd half, the Tiger-Cats lost their rhythm, as they have in every 2nd half this season, and they were unable to build on a 14-6 halftime lead. Along the way, the Tiger-Cats racked up a long list of injuries that have changed the face of their roster during this week of preparation.

It would be easy to predict that the Tiger-Cats will not come into this week’s game playing their best football due to having their wide receiving, linebacking, and quarterback position decimated with injuries. But there is another way to look at the situation, when the Tiger-Cats were healthy they were stuck in the rut of playing a great first half and then a disastrous second half in every game.

The reality is that a long of list injuries allows new Tiger-Cats to step up and become the playmakers that Hamilton has missed this season. Taking the lead of the Tiger-Cats offence is quarterback Matt Shiltz, Shiltz has been a regular contributor to the Hamilton offence this season, and now he gets his opportunity to show that he may be the answer to the issues the Tiger-Cats are facing this season. Defensively, Hamilton has the opportunity to utilize defensive players with fresh legs, and that may give them an edge over Toronto players that have experienced the wear and tear of the season so far. With this in mind let’s take a look at what Hamilton must do to have a chance to win this game by asking our 5 Growling Questions.

Growling Question #1

 Can the Tiger-Cats defensive front pressure Toronto QB McLeod Bethel-Thompson by producing 4 or more quarterback sacks?

Last week the Tiger-Cats defensive front was able to produce 3 quarterback sacks, all in the first half, and that pressure disrupted the Argonaut’s offence. In the second half, the Argonauts made adjustments and the Hamilton defence was unable to reproduce their first half success. Injured defensive end Mason Bennett is not available due to an injury. So the Tiger-Cats will need to have some rushers step up to put the pressure on Bethel-Thompson. When Bethel-Thompson has time he is capable of playing efficiently and leading his offence well. The Tiger-Cats will need to keep him off balance and get him off schedule.

Growling Question #2

Will the Tiger-Cats defence be able to contain the Argonaut’s running game and hold Toronto’s rushers to less than 4.0 yards/carry?

This is an area that the Tiger-Cats were successful in last week at BMO Field holding the Argonaut’s running game to 3.9 yards/carry. The Hamilton defence will need to accomplish this goal again, but this week they will have to do so with some fresh faces on their defensive line. Also, the Tiger-Cats linebacker unit has been hit hard with injuries. The Tiger-Cats have added new faces to attempt to close these gaps. It will be important for the new components of the Tiger-Cats defensive front seven to gel and play well as a unit.

Growling Question #3

Can the Tiger-Cats offensive line protect quarterback Matt Shiltz in his first start of the 2022 season?

Head coach Orlondo Steinauer talked about Shiltz this week, “his skill set speaks for itself, he can make all the throws, he is athletic, he is a natural leader, he’s been in big games before, the team believes in Matt as they believe in Dane.” There is good reason to believe in Shiltz, especially when you consider that he is the leading rusher for the Tiger-Cats offence. For the last several weeks Shiltz has been splitting time with Dane Evans, and at times he has played very well. Also, it seems like the Tiger-Cats offensive line has turned a corner and is relatively healthy. In Week 9 the Tiger-Cats offensive line did not allow any quarterback sacks. If Hamilton can run the ball and protect the quarterback then they have a good chance to produce offensively.

Growling Question #4

Can the Tiger-Cats find a way to score 3 touchdowns?

When the Tiger-Cats, win they score particularly in the red zone. If the Tiger-Cats are forced to live off of field goals, like last week, then they put themselves in a difficult position to win games. The receiving unit of Hamilton will have the familiar faces of Steven Dunbar Jr. and Tim White, but also some fresh receivers that have yet to prove themselves as potential playmakers. This week would be a great time for the role players of this offence to play at a higher level and produce touchdowns. Special teams were one reason the Tiger-Cats lost last week in Toronto, so it would be fitting if they were able to produce a special teams touchdown as they attempt to avenge their Week 9 loss. In addition, the Tiger-Cats defence had opportunities to produce turnovers last week, and it would be a huge boost if they could produce and turnover and score a defensive touchdown.

Growling Question #5

Will the Tiger-Cats find a way to win the +/- turnover battle?

The Tiger-Cats have not won the turnover battle in any game in 2022. They have been even two games, and they won both of those games. With that in mind, it seems that if the Tiger-Cats are to get a win against the Argonauts they will need to win the turnover battle. To do so they will have to protect the ball offensively, an area that they have struggled with often this season. And they need to find ways to produce turnovers. The Tiger-Cats defence has not been able to produce turnovers regularly this season, and this is an area that would give Hamilton a big edge. Like last week, the team that wins the turnover battle this week will win this game.

With a large number of injuries, the Tiger-Cats could make excuses and accept their situation. That is not the message coming out of the Tiger-Cats organization, instead, this is being viewed as an opportunity for new playmakers to establish themselves. The personnel of the Tiger-Cats has been regularly criticized by fans of the team. This week we will find out if the issues the Tiger-Cats have faced are a reflection of their work ethic or a product of their personnel. At 7:30 pm Friday we will see if the Tiger-Cats can answer the 5 Growling Questions and get a home win against the Argonauts.

Follow me on Twitter: @AaronSauter7

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