The Hamilton Tiger Cats 2019 season opener is here. There’s no shortage of storylines heading into Thursday’s game. From the usually beginning of the season excitement, to the return of a familiar foe, there is surely plenty of things to talk about.
The best part, however is that come 7 p.m. all the talking stops, at least for a while. We can just sit back and enjoy the return of Tiger-Cats football.
Making the trip east are the Saskatchewan Roughriders. They were fairly successful last season, finishing 12-6 before bowing out to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in the West final. In order for the Ticats to get into the win column earl, they’ll have to follow these 3 Keys to the Game.
1.Get the TigerTown faithful into it early.
The atmosphere is going to be electric at Tim Hortons Field, so it’s going to be important to get the hometown crowd loud and rowdy early. A few quick points or a defensive stand and the ground may start to shake around the stadium, making things incredibly difficult on the Riders’ offence.
Hamilton was able to do this last week in their preseason finale against the Argos. Jeremiah Masoli picked up right where he left off after his career year in 2018. He and the Ticats offence opened up the game with an 11 play, 70 yard drive that was capped off with an 11 yard touchdown pass to Bralon Addison. Another quick start like that and it should be deafening at Tim Hortons Field.
2.Limit the run game.
Saskatchewan loves to pound the rock. Last season they were second in the CFL with 111.9 rushing yards and 21.5 attempts per game. Tre Mason, the team’s leading rusher, suffered an injury at the end of last season and was released in May. However, the Riders acted quickly in the offseason and added William Powell on the first day of free agency. Powell spent last season in Ottawa, where he finished second in the CFL in rushing yards but first in yards per game. Former Ticat, Marcus Thigpen, will also play a factor in Saskatchewan’s run game.
In the days leading up to the game, Head Coach Orlondo Steinauer stressed the importance of his team worrying about themselves and not about the opposition. However, he did note the importance of limiting both Powell and Thigpen.
“Each week you can’t give a team the ability to run the ball at will. Putting people in second and medium and second and short, it’s tough to call defence that way.” Said Coach Steinauer.
In each of Saskatchewan’s six losses last year, they were held to 100 yards or less on the ground. Look for the Ticat’s front seven to try and smother the run game, before it even gets going.
3.Spoil Collaros’ Return and get Coach O his first Win.
Zach Collaros is making his first start at Tim Hortons Field since the Ticats traded him to the Saskatchewan last January. You know there’s nothing he’d like to do more, than put a damper on the Home Opener.
Tiger-Cats fans know how good Collaros can be when he’s healthy. And the coaching staff is well aware of that too. Coach Steinauer said when he’s healthy he’s one of the better quarterbacks in the league. Hamilton will likely try and make things difficult on him by showing him a bunch of different looks and making him move his feet.
Many of the Ticats players mentioned how they were looking forward to getting the opportunity to go up against Collaros. Should one of the Ticats get the chance to pick him off or sack him, not only will Tim Hortons field go crazy, but it will go a long way to spoiling his return to the Hammer.