Strong Hamil­ton roots on Esks’ staff

The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTS - DREW ED­WARDS ded­wards@thes­ 905-526-2481 | @scratch­ing­post

ED­MON­TON — The sto­ry­line for Ed­mon­ton: The Eski­mos hired Ja­son Maas (a for­mer Ti­cat) af­ter for­mer head coach Chris Jones and his en­tire staff de­parted for Saskatchewan fol­low­ing the team’s Grey Cup win last sea­son.

Maas has sur­rounded him­self with a vet­eran staff — in­clud­ing ex-Hamil­ton coaches Mike Gib­son and Casey Cree­han — and play­ers say the rookie head coach has tai­lored his style to fit an ex­pe­ri­enced club with plenty of vet­eran lead­er­ship. Key in­juries: Start­ing Cana­dian re­ceiver Nate Coe­hoorn suf­fered a con­cus­sion on the third day of prac­tice. And that means Natey Ad­jei — who has once ca­reer CFL start — gets the nod. De­fen­sive back John Ojo is out for the sea­son with a torn Achilles. Five funky Ed­mon­ton stats: 1. Af­ter fall­ing be­hind 13-3 last week against Win­nipeg, the Eski­mos ral­lied for a 20-16 vic­tory, mark­ing the fifth straight time the Eski­mos have won af­ter trail­ing by 10 or more points. That ties a CFL record.

2. The Esks (and the Ti­cats) won on the road last week, the first time the vis­i­tors have swept all four games since Au­gust 2014. Home teams have a win­ning per­cent­age of just .219 so far, the low­est mark in the league’s his­tory

3. The Eski­mos have gone seven-for-seven on third down with two yards or less to go, while teams across the league are con­vert­ing at a 78.7 per cent rate, up 3.5 per cent from last sea­son.

4. Quar­ter­back Mike Reilly has just two in­ter­cep­tions on the sea­son and that fol­lows a league-wide trend that had picks at an all-time low: There have been just 18 in­ter­cep­tions thus far, rep­re­sent­ing 1.5 per cent of all pass at­tempts. The low­est-ever mark was 2.8 per cent in 2014.

5. This will be Reilly’s sixth start against the Ti­cats and his quar­ter­back rat­ing of 81.4 is his low­est against any CFL club. The sto­ry­line for Hamil­ton: The Ti­cats will be look­ing for a bet­ter start of­fen­sively af­ter man­ag­ing just five points in the first 30 min­utes in last week’s win over Mon­treal.

The de­fence and spe­cial teams units, how­ever, have been mostly ex­cel­lent this sea­son. The Ti­cats would be look­ing to head into their bye week on a high note, part of an odd stretch of sched­ule that will see them play just one game in 20 days. Key in­juries, ros­ter changes: Cen­tre Mike Filer is out with an an­kle in­jury suf­fered late in last week’s win over Mon­treal, so sec­ond-year man Mathieu Gi­rard gets his first ca­reer start. Re­ceiver Ter­rence To­liver, who has missed the last three games with an up­per body in­jury, re­turns to the lineup. Five funky Hamil­ton stats: 1. With their two road vic­to­ries this sea­son, the Ti­cats have now won six of their last games away from Tim Hor­tons Field.

2. Last week against Mon­treal, Hamil­ton limited the Alou­ettes to just 239 yards of net of­fence, while forc­ing 10 two-and-outs and five turnovers.

3. Th­ese teams split the sea­son se­ries in 2015 with both road teams earn­ing vic­to­ries: Hamil­ton dis­man­tled Ed­mon­ton 49-20 on Aug. 21; then lost 25-18 on Sept. 19, the game in which quar­ter­back Zach Col­laros tore his ACL.

4. Hamil­ton is now 5-7 since Col­laros’ in­jury (in­clud­ing play­offs.)

5. Hamil­ton and Ed­mon­ton have split each of the past four sea­son se­ries, and nei­ther side has swept since 2011when the Eski­mos took both games.

TSN play-by-play: Chris Cuth­bert and Glen Suitor. Ref­eree: Kim Mur­phy Weather: Mostly sunny, 22, winds out of the west at 18 km/h.


Ed­mon­ton coach Ja­son Maas is a one-time Tiger-Cat quar­ter­back.

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