HAMILTON — The confidence the Hamilton Tiger-Cats say they have in the locker room is dying somewhere on the way to the field.
There was zero swagger in the Ticats last night at Tim Hortons Field, only more fragility, as the club was crushed 39-12 by the visiting Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
The Ticats are 0-7 to start the 2017 Canadian Football League regular season, the faint hope that they can make the playoffs because they play in the weak East Division taking a kick squarely in the teeth.
Before an announced crowd of 23,517, the Bombers scored three touchdowns off Hamilton turnovers, including two in the fourth quarter.
Quarterback Zach Collaros, a day after stressing the Ticats had plenty of faith in themselves, was sacked five times and intercepted once.
It’s rather obvious that June Jones, who has been hired to turn the offence around, will need more time. And there’s no guarantee of it happening fully.
“I want to be careful in a public forum because I might say something and turn around tomorrow and regret I said it after I watch the film, honestly,” Ticats head coach Kent Austin said, referring to what he needs to see from Collaros as the offence evolves under Jones.
“I have been there before. (But) we need better play out of that position. I think June can bring that, I really do. We need to give him some time to continue to work with that group and I think you will see the fruits of that, hopefully soon.
“This is a team game and we need execution from everybody.”
Collaros completed 21 of 33 passes for 216 yards. He led two touchdown drives, but otherwise the offence was inconsistent and was booed off the field at one point.
“I need to do better,” Collaros said. “It’s tough to win in any league if the quarterback is not playing well.
“I thought we had a good week of practice and we did not carry it over to the field. For me and June, we need to continue to be around each other, and like I have said all week, I will be a sponge and learn what he likes to do and go out there and execute it. I wish I could give you a better answer than that.”
Hamilton on Friday plays host to the Ottawa Redblacks, who are almost as bad with a 1-6-1 record, before a bye in Week 10. Still, there’s no reason to suggest the Ticats will break the goose egg in the win column when the Redblacks visit.
Hamilton’s worst start to a season came in 2003, when it was 0-12 before winning.
Justin Medlock was good on six of eight field-goal attempts for Winnipeg, his longest coming from 57 yards (one yard short of his career high) during the third quarter.
Damarr Aultman scored a 29-yard touchdown for the Ticats in the third quarter, mostly because of bad tacking by the Bombers. A two-point convert attempt failed. In the second, backup quarterback Jeremiah Masoli plunged in from one yard for the other major.
Winnipeg was ahead 19-6 at the half, building a lead on four Medlock field goals and a six-yard touchdown pass by Julian Feoli-Gudino from quarterback Matt Nichols.
In the second half, the Bombers, who improved to 5-2, buried the Ticats, outscoring them 17-0 in the fourth quarter.
“We have to put it all together,” Hamilton linebacker Simoni Lawrence said.
“We have to play great on all three phases, we have to play complementary football, the offence, the defence, the special teams.
“We are a very good team and we just have to go out there and show our record says we are 0-7, we are still in it.
“We can be soft and just fold, or we can put our pants on and come to work every morning and figure a way to get out of this hole.” @koshtorontosun