Strong Hamilton roots on Esks’ staff
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.