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CFL Week 3: Can Hamilton Overcome their “Invisible Wall” at Saskatchewan?

Tiger-Cats Game #3

Location: Mosaic Stadium, Regina, Saskatchewn

Game Date: Sunday, June 23rd, 2024

Time: 7:00 PM EDT

Where to Watch: TSN in Canada, CFL+ for US/International Viewers

DraftKings Odds: Hamilton Tiger-Cats (+2.5), Saskatchewan Roughriders (-2.5), O/U 50.5 points

In Week 2, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats did almost everything they needed to do to get their first win of the 2024 season against the Saskatchewan Roughriders at Tim Hortons Field. Unfortunately, almost was not good enough to get the win, and they instead left the door open for the Roughriders to pull off a dramatic 33-to-30 victory. The painful part of that blown opportunity was that the Tiger-Cats held a double-digit lead for most of the game.

The mission this week for Hamilton is to do once again what they need to do to have a chance to win the game on the road against the Roughriders but finish the job this week. In Week 2, Hamilton’s losing effort was a reflection of their missed opportunities. For the second week in a row, wide receiver Tim White dropped several passes, including touchdown pass opportunities, and the Tiger-Cat’s last pass of the game, which White popped up off of his chest, leading to a Roughriders interception that set up a game-winning field goal.

So what do the Tiger-Cats need to do to break through the imaginary wall that separates them from getting their first win of the season? First, Tiger-Cats quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell has turned back the clock and is playing great football early this season; Mitchell must stay healthy and keep making the throws that a big-time CFL quarterback needs to make for their team. Second, the Tiger-Cats pass rush was exceptionally effective last week, sacking Roughriders quarterback Trevor Harris four times and three sacks by defensive lineman Brandon Barlow.

The difference between winning and losing this week lies in the fine details. Hamilton failed to establish its running game last week, making it difficult for the Tiger-Cats to control the game’s pace when it had a significant lead. Defensively, it needs to continue to hold down the Roughriders’ running game. If the Tiger-Cats can force the Roughriders to live with their passing game, there is a better chance that Hamilton’s defence can produce turnovers and take away possessions from Saskatchewan.

With these game plan aspects in mind, let’s examine three areas the Tiger-Cats need to win in if they are to break through and pick up their first win of the 2024 season.

Hamilton Tiger-Cats Depth Chart

Saskatchewan Roughriders Depth Chart

Keys to Victory

Key to Victory #1: Can White get it Right?

It’s not an overstatement to say that the Tiger-Cats’ 0-2 start can be partially attributed to wide receiver Tim White. White, a key player in the team’s offence, has been one of the most productive receivers for the Tiger-Cats in the past two seasons. His ability to step up in crucial moments has been a game-changer for the team.

So far this season, White has not been able to make those plays. White dropped touchdown passes several times, which would have made the difference between winning and losing against Calgary and Saskatchewan. Head coach Scott Milanovich is sending the message that they will keep feeding White the ball and allow him to play through his current slump. If White can make the adjustments needed this week to make those catches, Hamilton could be able to pick up their first week of the 2024 season.

Key to Victory #2: Pressure the Passer

Last week, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats’ defensive line flat-out dominated the game against the Roughriders. The Tiger-Cats’ defensive front produced four sacks against Roughriders quarterback Trevor Harris, and the team shut down Saskatchewan’s running game, holding running back AJ Oullette to 32 yards on 11 carries and not allowing him to get into the endzone. This week, Hamilton needs to reproduce this effort on the defensive side of the ball.

The outcome of Hamilton’s defensive strategy last week was that they forced the Roughriders to rely solely on their passing game. However, the Tiger-Cats’ defensive secondary faced a setback as Roughriders wide receivers Jerreth Sterns and Kian Schaffer-Baker had a field day with over 200 yards receiving and two touchdowns, allowing the Roughriders to compensate for their issues on the line of scrimmage. Despite this, the more the Tiger-Cats can keep Saskatchewan under pressure to pass the ball, the higher the chances of Hamilton forcing the Roughriders into turnovers.

Key to Victory #3: Establish the Running Game

A missing aspect of the Tiger-Cat’s and the Roughrider’s offensive performance last week was the inability to establish their running game. If one of these teams can take over the line of scrimmage and run the ball effectively, the dynamic between these teams could change. If Hamilton can run the ball with running back James Butler, they can rely less on getting the ball to their receivers, who have been dropping passes. If Saskatchewan can establish their running game, they will likely be able to protect Harris more effectively and allow him to get to the ball to his weapons on offence more efficiently.

While both teams may find comfort in relying on the passing game, it’s crucial to remember that the most successful CFL teams are those with the ability to run the ball effectively. If either of these teams aspires to be true championship contenders, they must find a way to dominate the line of scrimmage and steer clear of 2nd and long situations. The team that dedicates the effort to establish their running game this week will gain a significant advantage in their quest to establish themselves as a contender this season.

Injury Report

According to the Week 3 Injury Reports, the Tiger-Cats and Roughriders come into this matchup with most of their offensive and defensive weapons available for their Week 3 matchup. The Tiger-Cats will be missing Sam linebacker Carthell Flowers-Lloyd (hamstring) and defensive lineman Dewayne Hendrix (hamstring), and linebacker Trevor Hoyte (ankle) is questionable. Saskatchewan will be without offensive lineman Phillip Blake (thigh) and defensive back Rodney Clemons (Achilles), and offensive lineman Peter Godber is doubtful after missing practice all week due to personal reasons.

Game Analysis

During the Roughrider’s first two games this season, they have gotten down to their opponent and then stayed the course on the offensive side until their opponent made critical mistakes to allow them to steal the game. This week, if Hamilton can put the Roughriders back in that position again, they need to take control of the game’s tempo and get the ball in the endzone when the opportunity is available. For Hamilton, dropped passes have defined their failures so far this season, and if they can fix that problem, they may become more explosive on offense. Conversely, if the Roughriders can establish their running game and protect Harris this week, they could become an excellent team. The biggest question for this game is, which team can step up and prove they can play a complete game?

Game Prediction: Hamilton Tiger-Cats 34, Saskatchewan Roughriders 27

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Aaron Sauter Reporter
Aaron Sauter is a 23-veteran high school football coach that is also an fan of all levels of football. He is especially interested in alternative football leagues like the CFL, UFL, and IFL. Aaron enjoys analyzing innovative schemes on offense and defense during his free time.
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