After an 0-3 start, the only option for the Tiger-Cats is to stay focused on continual improvement and getting better each week. That has been the consistent message that is being communicated by each player and head coach Orlondo Steinauer. But regardless of the public message, the Tiger-Cats face an Edmonton Elks team that is remarkably similar to themselves.
This Friday, July 1st at 7:30 pm, on Canada Day the Tiger-Cats need to execute and get a home win. It is too early in an 18-game season to call this a must-win game, but this is Hamilton’s best opportunity to get their first win of the season heading into a bye week in Week 5. We are going to take a look at what the Tiger-Cats need to do to win this matchup vs. the Elks by asking our 5 Growling Questions for Week 4.
Growling Question #1
Can the Tiger-Cats defence pressure Elks QB Nick Arbuckle by getting 4 or more quarterback sacks?
Last week the Tiger-Cats defence had a breakout game and sacked Winnipeg quarterback Zach Collaros 4 times. That trend will need to continue this week against the Elks quarterback Nick Arbuckle. Coming into Week 4 the Elks have allowed 11 quarterback sacks, and have had major pass protection issues. To get this win the Tiger-Cats need to pressure Arbuckle into making poor decisions, but they need to accomplish that goal while maintaining the integrity of their pass coverage.
Edmonton receivers Kenny Lawler and Emmanuel Arceneaux have shown the ability to produce explosive plays. So the pressure will need to come from the defensive front 7 so that the Tiger-Cats can maintain their defensive integrity and limit explosive plays.
Growling Question #2
Will the Tiger-Cats defensive front be able to hold the Elk’s running game to less than 4.0 yards/carry?
The Elks have 41 rushes for 163 yards for an average of 4.0 yards/carry for the 2022 season after the first 3 games. The Tiger-Cats have run defence has gotten better each week, and last week was able to hold the Blue Bombers to 3.95 yards/carry.
This is an area the Tiger-Cats defence needs to keep showing improvement in to give themselves a chance to make their opponents 1-dimensional on offence. Elks running back James Wilder Jr. has shown the ability to take games over earlier in his career and has rushed for 4.4 yards/carry in 2022. It will be important for the Hamilton defence to keep Wilder contained and keep him from having a breakout game.
Growling Question #3
Can the Tiger-Cats find a way to score 3 touchdowns vs. the Elks?
After practice, this week quarterback Dane Evans mentioned “we got to focus and stay locked in the whole game.” The most common criticism of the Tiger-Cats this season is that they fail to finish and that this will be the key to breaking through and begin winning games in 2022. Finishing is critical to whatever success the Tiger-Cats find this season.
But to win games the Tiger-Cats are going to have to start scoring touchdowns. This game would be a great opportunity for Tiger-Cats receivers Tim White and Steven Dunbar to produce explosive plays and have breakout games. Most likely the Tiger-Cats will also need to find other ways to score touchdowns as well, a defensive touchdown or a special teams touchdown would not only give the Tiger-Cats points that are critical to winning, but it would also give the Tiger-Cats a huge boost in momentum.
Growling Question #4
Can the Tiger-Cats offensive line protect quarterback Dane Evans by giving up less than 3 quarterback sacks?
The only constant with the Tiger-Cats offensive line is a change. In Week 4 the Tiger-Cats will most likely have their 4th offensive line combination in 4 weeks. Generally, a revolving door on the offensive line leads to a lack of chemistry and poor performance, but over the last 2 weeks, the Tiger-Cats have shown significant improvement concerning pass protection.
The Tiger-Cats have allowed 10 sacks in 2022, but they have only allowed 2 sacks in the last two games. This will be another week in which the Tiger-Cats will have to do all they can to allow quarterback Dane Evans to read progressions and find the open receiver.
Growling Question #5
Can the Tiger-Cats win the +/- turnover battle?
The Tiger-Cats and Elks have both been turnover machines in 2022. These teams have many of the same strengths and have the same weaknesses, but both of these teams have been defined by their turnovers. For the Tiger-Cats to win the game, they will need to protect the ball and the defence will need to take the ball away from the Elk’s offence.
In weeks 2 and 3 the Tiger-Cats spelled out their demise by turning the ball over and allowing defensive touchdowns to the Stampeders (fumble recovery for TD) and Blue Bombers (an interception for TD). The team that protects the ball and creates turnovers will get their first win of the 2022 season.
This Week 4 matchup on paper is an even matchup between the Elks and Tiger-Cats. Both teams average 17.7 points/game. Hamilton and Edmonton lead the CFL in quarterback sacks allowed and turnovers. To win this game the Tiger-Cats will have to play mistake-free football, and take advantage of the opportunities that will be provided to them. Can the Tiger-Cats take the next step and get their first win of the season? We will find out Friday at Tim Hortons Field at 7:30 pm.
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