First of three against Al­berta power

The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTS - DREW ED­WARDS ded­wards@thes­pec.com 905-526-2481 | @scratch­ing­post

The sto­ry­line for Hamil­ton: Well, the Ti­cats are 0-3 and much of the con­ver­sa­tion this week cen­tred on whether there’s ten­sion be­tween head coach Kent Austin and quar­ter­back Zach Col­laros. Hamil­ton is start­ing a three-game stretch against West Divi­sion pow­er­houses Ed­mon­ton and Cal­gary, mak­ing that first win — which Austin ac­knowl­edged would ease the mount­ing pres­sure — a daunt­ing task.

Key in­juries and ros­ter changes: Line­backer Will Hill is back at SAM line­backer af­ter sit­ting out a week due to a sus­pen­sion for grab­bing an of­fi­cial, so Keon Lyn moves to cor­ner and Ter­rence Fred­er­ick joins the sec­ondary as the ex­tra de­fen­sive back. Ethan Davis and Aaron Berry are off the ros­ter. The 12 starters on of­fence re­main the same. Five funky Hamil­ton stats: 1. Af­ter av­er­ag­ing 208 yards of net of­fence in their first two games, the Ti­cats gained a sea­son-high 424 yards against B.C. last week and scored twice on their first four drives.

2. A loss would drop the Ti­cats to 0-4 on the sea­son. The last time they started a year so poorly: 2007, when they fin­ished 3-15.

3. With 225 re­ceiv­ing yards, first-year Ti­cat re­ceiver Jalen Saun­ders is 13th in the CFL, de­spite play­ing in just two games. He has av­er­aged a league-best 20.5 yards per re­cep­tion.

The sto­ry­line for Ed­mon­ton: The Esks are 3-0 but their wins have been by a to­tal of nine points — they aren’t blow­ing peo­ple out. Still, they have Mike Reilly at quar­ter­back and one of the CFL’s best de­fen­sive lines.

Key in­juries: Hav­ing al­ready lost run­ning back John White and lineback­ers J.C. Sher­ritt and Cory Green­wood to sea­son-end­ing in­juries, Ed­mon­ton is now with­out all-star re­ceiver Adar­ius Bow­man and Cana­dian line­backer Adam Konar, who filled in ad­mirably for Green­wood. Na­tional Blair Smith will make his first CFL start for Konar, while Bryant Mitchell takes over for Bow­man. Three funky Ed­mon­ton stats: 1. The Eski­mos have vis­ited Hamil­ton 46 times since 1961 and are 26-19-1 over than span. The 26 wins by Ed­mon­ton over Hamil­ton are the most by any West Divi­sion club over an East­ern ri­val in league his­tory.

2. The Eski­mos have only six points in the first quar­ter this sea­son but have a 30-12 edge in the sec­ond stanza. All three of their wins have been by four points or less and by just nine points in to­tal.

3. Quar­ter­back Mike Reilly comes into this game with 17,099 ca­reer pass­ing yards to rank No. 39 all-time and trailing Eski­mos head coach Ja­son Maas by just 27 yards.

TSN play-by-play: Rod Black, Duane Forde

Ref­eree: An­dre Proulx

Weather fore­cast: Partly cloudy, 24 de­grees (feels like 32), winds out of the north­west at 15 km/h

CANA­DIAN PRESS FILE PHOTO

QB Mike Reilly has 17,099 ca­reer pass­ing yards to rank No. 39 all-time in the Cana­dian Foot­ball League, trailing Ed­mon­ton Eski­mos head coach Ja­son Maas by just 27.

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