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The 5 Most Important Things to Watch for in the Tiger-Cats vs. Redblacks Pre-Season Matchup

Tiger-Cats Pre-Season Game #1

Location: Tim Hortons Stadium, Hamilton, Ontario

Game Date: Saturday, May 25th, 2024

Time: 2:00 PM EDT

Where to Watch: CFL+ on

As the second week of training camp ends for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, the Tiger-Cat’s first opportunity to showcase their overhauled roster is against the Ottawa Redblacks in their first pre-season game in 2024. According to Steve Milton of the Ticats Audio Network, Hamilton plans to play their starters for a significant amount of time against the Redblacks. The primary focus for Tiger-Cats head coach Scott Milanovich is to see several players step up and take a leadership role for the 2024 season.

Coming into the 2024 season, Milanovich has preached a change in philosophy. Milanovich’s vision for Hamilton is to become a much more physical team and play a more fundamentally sound style of football than Tiger-Cats football’s recent history. That philosophy has resulted in a commitment to adding playmakers and depth to both the offensive and defensive line, more size and physical play at the wide receiver position, and a youth movement on the defensive side of the ball that is stacked with young, hungry players looking to make an impact in the CFL.

Today, we will examine five elements of the Tiger-Cats’ new roster, indicating the progress made by the roster overhaul coming into the 2024 CFL season.

Leadership Starts at the Quarterback Position

In 2023, the Tiger-Cats signed veteran CFL quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell with the expectation that he would bring his championship experience and lead the Tiger-Cats to an appearance in the Grey Cup championship game. Mitchell’s performance during the 2023 season fell short of those expectations due to multiple injuries that knocked Mitchell out of several games for the Tiger-Cats. In January 2024, the Tiger-Cats and Mitchell restructured his contract to reduce his salary, but the expectations are still high for Mitchell. Look for Mitchell to come out strong and lead the Tiger-Cats offence with authority.

Elevated Wide Receiver Play and Improved Perimeter Blocking

Several personnel moves by Scott Milanovich and the Tiger-Cats involved upgrading the wide receiver position with more physical and taller receivers. Tim White will still be the leader of the wide receiver group after re-signing with the Tiger-Cats this off-season, but outside of White, there have been intentional decisions to bring in taller receivers. Milanovich has communicated that their focus on larger receivers is improving the perimeter’s blocking.

More Emphasis on Offensive Formations Using Tight Ends

A consistent message from the Tiger-Cats players and coaching staff during training camp is that Hamilton needs to be a more physical team on the offensive side of the ball. Milanovich has signed several players who could step in and be a well-rounded tight end to accomplish that goal. Earlier this week, Milanovich mentioned that finding the tight ends he desires has been a challenge. Milanovich said, “One of the things we talk about is availability. It’s one of the ways we assess players, and there hasn’t been a ton of availability for the tight ends.” Look for Michael Ezelke, Jevoni Robinson, and Camren McDonald as the tight ends Milanovich has been looking for during training camp.

Chemistry Between a Young Defensive Line and Linebackers

A massive difference between the 2023 and 2024 Tiger-Cats will be seen in their defensive front seven. During free agency, the Tiger-Cats made several moves to get younger and more hungry on the defensive side of the ball. The result is several new faces on the Hamilton defensive front. The Tiger-Cats defense will face a significant challenge against a Redblacks offensive unit that has been a massive point of emphasis for Ottawa, including signing former Winnipeg Blue Bombers quarterback Dru Brown.

The Rise of Playmakers in the Defensive Backfield

Like the Tiger-Cats defensive front seven, the Tiger-Cats have made several adjustments in their defensive backfield. The Tiger-Cats defensive backfield should be one of the best units in the CFL after adding Jamal Peters and re-signing Stavros Katsantonis. In the Tiger-Cats 2023 season, adding new personnel to a defensive unit does not guarantee the expected performance level. With that in mind, the Tiger-Cats must start strong and perform well against a Redblacks offence featuring highly sought-after free-agent wide receiver Dominique Rhymes.

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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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