Tiger-Cats Game Day
Winless Hamilton takes on the perfect Eskimos
The storyline for Hamilton: They are 0-5, got hammered 60-1 last Saturday against Calgary, had a brawl in practice and hired a new assistant head coach this week. Other than that, things are just fine. Team CEO Scott Mitchell said this week that head coach Kent Austin’s job was safe, so if they are going to turn things around — and they are running out of time to do so — it will be with Austin at the helm.
Key injuries and roster changes: All-star linebacker Simoni Lawrence returns after missing one game due to injury, but halfback Abdul Kanneh, who played his first contest as a Ticat last week, has been put on the six-game injured list. Don Unamba, signed this week, starts at the boundary corner, while Will Hill moves from strong-side linebacker to safety. Dominique Ellis will replace Hill and Justin Capocciotti will start at defensive end to make the ratio work. Damarr Aultman makes his CFL debut, replacing Kevin Elliott, and American defensive end Adrian Tracy also sits.
Three funky Hamilton stats: 1. Of the 32 CFL clubs that have started the season 0-5 since 1948, just three have made the playoffs (9 per cent.) 2. Sergio Castillo is a perfect 9-for-9 through five games, the last kicker in the CFL to retain a perfect mark. He is also 3-of-3 beyond 40 yards and has a league-best 37.1 average kick. 3. The Ticats threw 37 passes last week and targeted Luke Tasker on 14 of them, a career-high. Since being blanked on July 8 with just two targets, Tasker has been thrown to 32 times and made 22 receptions for 173 yards.
The storyline for Edmonton: The league’s last perfect team, the Esks are trying to stay undefeated despite the loss of several starters due to injury. They earned a 31-28 victory over Hamilton at Tim Hortons Field two weeks ago, a game in which Hamilton led 25-13 after the third quarter. But three Edmonton scoring drives culminating in a Mike Reilly to Duke Williams pass with 0:23 to play made the difference.
Key injuries: The Esks, ravaged by injuries, have made a whopping 16 roster moves with six starters from last week’s win over B.C. out of the lineup, including running back Travon Van, receiver Duke Williams, kicker Sean Whyte, Canadian defensive backs Arjen Colquhoun and Neil King, as well as offensive tackle Joel Figueroa. Former Ticat Hugh O’Neill replaces Whyte, while the loss of King and Colquhoun have forced Edmonton to make a ratio change, adding Canadian receiver Chris Getzlaf to the starting lineup.
Three funky Edmonton stats: 1. The Eskimos are the 25th team in CFL history in start the season 5-0. None of those teams has missed the playoffs and eight have won the Grey Cup. 2. Reilly is No. 1 in the CFL’s quarterback rating system with a 91.1 mark out of 100 for 2017. 3. He connected with Vidal Hazelton for a 108-yard pass last week against B.C., the longest pass play in the CFL since a 109-yarder from Damon Allen to Alfred Jackson in 2002 when they were with the Lions.
TSN play-by-play: Chris Cuthbert and Glen Suitor
Referee: Dave Foxcroft
Weather: Partly cloudy with a 40 per cent chance of showers, winds out of the north at 15 km/h.
Ticats’ Simoni Lawrence returns after missing one game due to injury.