Hamil­ton des­per­ately needs win to save sea­son

The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTS - DREW ED­WARDS

The sto­ry­line for Hamil­ton: The Ti­cats have in­stalled a new offensive sys­tem un­der the di­rec­tion of new as­sis­tant head coach June Jones; de­moted de­fen­sive co-or­di­na­tor Jeff Reinebold in favour of lineback­ers’ coach Phillip Lol­ley; re­leased their sec­ond-lead­ing tack­ler in Will Hill for a “lack of com­mit­ment;” and are start­ing their fourth dif­fer­ent right tackle in the first seven games. Oh, and they are 0-6 and des­per­ately need a win to save their sea­son.

Key in­juries and ros­ter changes: The Ti­cats are fi­nally start­ing to get (kind of ) healthy, with all-star de­fen­sive back Emanuel Davis, Cana­dian safety Craig But­ler, re­ceiver Gio­vanni Aprile, de­fen­sive tackle Evan Gill and back up quar­ter­back Everett Gol­son all mak­ing their sea­son de­buts. New­comer Tony Washington starts at right tackle af­ter be­ing signed this week. Hill, who started five of six games this sea­son at safety and line­backer, was let go. Three funky Hamil­ton stats: 1. The Ti­cats had nine sacks and 33 quar­ter­back pres­sures in their first four games, but have just one sack and eight pres­sures in their last two con­tests.

2. Only one team in CFL his­tory has ever started the sea­son 0-6 and made the play­offs (B.C., which went 5-11 in 1969.)

3. Last week Hamil­ton ran the ball just six times at Ed­mon­ton, a sea­son-low and the fewest by any CFL club since 2008 (Montreal with five rushes for 13 yards against Saskatchewan).

The sto­ry­line for Win­nipeg: The Bombers are 4-2 on the sea­son, but have needed some late-game hero­ics to get there and aren’t con­sid­ered in the up­per-ech­e­lon of West Di­vi­sion teams — at least not yet. To get there, they’ll need to take care of busi­ness against an Eastern op­po­nent that is a col­lec­tive 2-16 against the West, and start win­ning some in­tra-di­vi­sional games (they have Ed­mon­ton next week.)

Key in­juries: The Bombers’ start­ing lineup has been the most con­sis­tent in the CFL this sea­son with 18 of a pos­si­ble 24 play­ers hav­ing made all six starts thus far, and 23 play­ers hav­ing made at least four starts. They have just four play­ers on the in­jured list, though three — re­ceiver We­ston Dressler, line­backer Ian Wild and de­fen­sive line­man Tris­tan Ok­palaugo — are starters. Three funky Win­nipeg stats: 1. Win­nipeg has over­come deficits of five, eight, 12 and 14 points to win this sea­son. The last time that Win­nipeg had back-to-back wins over­com­ing an eight-point deficit at least in each game was in Au­gust 1996.

2. Quar­ter­back Matt Ni­chols has now led three fourth quar­ter gamewin­ning drives in 2017 and has en­gi­neered eight in his last 15 starts. Over­all, Win­nipeg’s record is 10-5 in that stretch.

3. The Bombers are 9-3 on the road in their last 12 starts com­pared to a 6-6 home mark since the start of 2016. They have had at least an even or bet­ter road than home record in five of the past seven sea­sons.

SCOTT GARD­NER, THE HAMIL­TON SPEC­TA­TOR

Ti­cats head coach Kent Austin, left, and new de­fen­sive co-or­di­na­tor Phillip Lol­ley go over changes for Satur­day.

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