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“Don’t Call it a CrumBack”, Redblacks Lose Another to Ti-Cats

Just like LL Cool J once said, “Don’t Call it a Crumback, I been here for years” the Redblacks have lost another to the Ti-Cats. The Redblacks have in fact been in this position for years, per, they have lost nine straight games against Hamilton dating back to the their final match up in the 2018 season. Having lost their ninth straight game to Hamilton, the Redblacks will play Saskatchewan next week who stands an identical to the Redblacks 3-4 record. 

Week Eight Review

After a 43 point outburst in week 7, I was a firm believer that the Redblacks’ offense with Crum under center would continue to play well, and make most games a shoot out. That thought was quickly proven wrong, as in week 8, the final score was 16-12 with Hamilton on top. The Redblacks continued to run the ball well with over 140 yards as a team on the day, however the passing game certainly lost it’s stride.

Hamilton outpaced Ottawa by nearly 100 yards of total offense, while the two quarterbacks both made their fair share of mistakes, the Hamilton passing game still managed to drag it’s team to victory totaling 353 yards on the day, to just 24 yards rushing or 2.2 yards per carry. The ironic part about this loss for Ottawa, is there is a lot to like about what they were able to do in this game.

Run Game Stays the Course

Running the ball more than they passed it, Ottawa had 26 carries for 144 yards on the day, an average of 5.5 yards per carry as a team. This keeps them on par with what they have produced since Dustin Crum entered the lineup just 4 weeks ago.

This led the Redblacks to win the time of possession battle 32:12 to 27:29 over Hamilton, while averaging a full 3.3 yards per carry more than their offense as well. It didn’t help that the offense couldn’t manage to convert on 2nd down, going 4 of 21 on the day. Part of the reason this looks so bad, is that Ottawa had 7 plays that resulted in 37 yards lost, as well as 3 penalties for 35 yards, 72 yards lost on these factors alone.

The Redblacks made two trips to the red-zone, and both times they faltered missing their chance to put 6 points on the board. Had they managed to convert either of these trips near the goal-line, they would have come out with their third straight win. Hamilton to their credit did not have these same issues, they had just 2 negative plays for 7 yards lost. They did have penalties, 6 in fact, but lost 46 yards, just 11 more than Ottawa despite having twice as many penalties.

Defense Snags Five Interceptions

The Redblacks defense had an interesting performance on the day. They stifled the run game, allowing just 24 total rushing yards, and forced the Tiger-Cats to throw the ball 40 times. This resulted in the defense intercepting five passes on the day, but still allowing 8.8 yards per attempt on the day. To be fair, this should have been enough to claim victory, and I don’t put the blame on the defense, when the offense couldn’t get out of it’s own way. Hopefully they can repeat this performance in week nine against the Roughriders.

Week Nine Preview

The last time these two teams faced each other early in 2022, Saskatchewan won the game 28-13, as Ottawa watched Jeremiah Masoli get injured ending his season. This time the Redblacks do not have Masoli available, and the Roughriders also have a new quarterback. Could we see the Redblacks come out on top in this one?

For what it’s worth this season Ottawa is 3-1 when facing the teams coming out of the West division, and Saskatchewan has lost it’s only game against an East opponent. Saskatchewan is also 1-2 at home, and actually has a better away record at 2-2. Ottawa is 1-2 on the road, and 2-2 at home. One of these teams will be able to add a victory to one of these columns after this weekend’s game.

Offensive Keys to the Game

Priority one has to be getting Dustin Crum in a groove early. Even if it is strictly dump offs and bubble screens Ottawa has to make him feel comfortable. As long as they are gaining 3-5 yards a play on first down throwing the ball stick with it, and continue to show trust in your young gunslinger. Doing so will eventually open up running lanes for Crum and the rest of this offense which managed 5.5 yards per carry despite very little help from the passing game against Hamilton. Saskatchewan’s defense allows the second lowest completion rate in the league currently.

We could see a lot more of the intermediate and short passing game in this game in an effort to keep Crum confident and keep the offense moving down the field. I expect this to be a big day for Nate Behar. Behar was very quiet since back-to-back big games against Winnipeg, and Calgary catching just two passes for 16 yards against Hamilton, a trend they had also managed in their previous match-up as well. Find ways to get Crum’s favorite target Behar involved early and often, exploiting the secondary wherever possible. Behar has 31 receptions through 7 games but 18 of those came in Crum’s first two starts. Justin Hardy has also been an asset alongside Behar.

Running Game, and Play Action

As I discussed earlier, regardless what the passing game has done, Khari Jones has the running game humming each week now. After a slow start due to many injuries at the position it seems like they have worked out a good rotation that keeps each back healthy, and effective. Ottawa now leads the league in rushing yards, despite sitting behind Winnipeg in rushing attempts. They lead the league in average yards per carry by a full yard over second place at 6 yards per carry.

If they can keep this up against Saskatchewan it should result in passing lanes, and help get Crum back on track. The Roughriders defense has given up an average of 89.9 rushing yards per game. The Redblacks also need to utilize play action as a way to protect Crum, they have given up the second most sacks in the league behind only…Saskatchewan at 27, and 28 respectively. However, Saskatchewan has produced just 12 sacks so far this season perhaps this is a bounce back game for the Redblacks offensive line.

Defensive Keys to Victory

Currently the Redblacks are 2nd in the league in interceptions, partially because of their pass rush which has produced consistent pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Mason Fine has thrown his fair share of interceptions, but with Dandridge potentially not playing in this game, and Fine leading the league in completion rate I am concerned about his ability to complete high percentage throws against a weakened secondary.

Field position is key and no one has been better this season at flipping the field than Richie Leone as these stats show. On the season he has 47 punts for an average of 47.9 yards per punt. He has also handled kick off duties for Ottawa for the last five seasons. This year he has 19 kickoffs for 60.4 yards per kick off just slightly his career average. He has helped this defense on several occasions.

Injury Report

It seems as if for every player that returns to the line-up, we lose another. Brandin Dandridge is trending toward not playing in this weekend’s game which could be a huge blow to this secondary. They did just sign Tobias Harris to the practice squad should they need to call up extra depth for this week’s game. Anytime you lose a player who has the second most interceptions in the league, your defense will feel that loss. Could Fine come out and play his best game yet against the Redblacks if Dandridge misses this game?

I am also curious to see how big of a role Bralon Addison has after finally practicing this week. He could be an x factor for this offense moving forward if he is 100%, and I think that is what the Redblacks are counting on. Why wait this long to play him, if he is still going to be limited in his first game back anyway?

Predictions and Betting Odds

Most betting outlets have this as a split decision a +1 slide to one team or another. Per Draftkings it is in Saskatchewan’s favor by 1 point, with an over/under of 44.5 and a 120 money line for Ottawa, 100 for Saskatchewan. I personally lean Saskatchewan in this game as well. Although I think the gap will be more than 1 point by the end of the game. I’m predicting another low scoring affair in this one with lots of turnovers once again.

20-16 Saskatchewan

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@SamShadySports Reporter
I began writing years ago out of an obsession with the NFL. I never intended to take it anywhere but after watching so many others succeed as freelance writers I decided it was worth a shot. I jumped I and have loved every minute of it. I have expanded my content to include YouTube, as well as Twitter Spaces, SoundCloud, and should be launching on Amazon Podcasts soon.
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