The Hamilton Tiger-Cats have begun their journey without CFL all-star Jeremiah Masoli and the team has shown promise. Clearly, Dane Evans has a lot to prove but he is starting to settle in with the offence and offensive coordinator Tommy Condell. It takes time for players and coordinators to develop a relationship, but Evans and Condell are on their way.
Masoli and Condell developed a successful relationship, but after Masoli ‘s knee injury, Evans was projected into the spotlight. The Tiger-Cats have shown production through all phases. But, will they manage to continue their success as the CFL season continues?
Since losing Masoli to injury the Tiger-Cats have gone 1-1. Both games were competitive and gave the league a chance to see new starting quarterback Dane Evans. The B.C. Lions game allowed Evans to show what he is capable of.
Playing in front of an energetic fan base, he put up some reasonable numbers and threw for 260 yards and two touchdowns. Brandon Banks returned from injury and played another sensational game. Banks is currently leading the league in receiving yards and second in receiving touchdowns.
Banks is not the only playmaker amongst the wide receiving core. Bralon Addison has accumulated 412 yards receiving and Jaelon Acklin is a solid possession receiver. Luke Tasker has struggled as of late, but do not be surprised if he plays a bigger role deeper into the season and in the playoffs.
Losing Maleek Irons for six games hurts the Cats. Cameron Marshall, Irons’ replacement, debuted against B.C. last week and had seven carries for 40 yards.
The offensive line held the Lions to zero sacks. Unfortunately, Darius Ciraco was placed on the one-game injured list and didn’t play against B.C. Ti-Cats fans hope to see him back within the next couple games as he is a vital component of the offensive line.
Hamilton needs consistency in their ground game in order to relieve the pressure off Dane Evans. As the season runs deeper, the Tiger-Cats offence could become much more dangerous as they already are. It will also be intriguing to see how Evans game develops.
Defensively, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats lineup with a high caliber defence, highlighted by their defensive line.
Ja’Gared Davis was a massive addition to there d-line this year. He is currently tied for second in the CFL in sacks with six and has recorded 37 tackles, which is eighth-most among the league. The seven above him are either linebackers or defensive backs. Leading Hamilton in tackles is middle linebacker Justin Tuggle with 40.
The secondary has young players such as Frankie Williams and Tunde Adeleke. Delvin Breaux is a member the Tiger-Cats want back in there secondary as he was put on the one-game injured list and did not play last week against B.C. Overall, the Tiger-Cats have a highly skilled defence on paper, but last week’s outing showed weaknesses and this Saturday’s game against Ottawa will be important to gain some lost confidence.
Jeff Reinebold continues to show why he is in the conversation as the best special teams coordinator in the CFL. The Tiger-Cats special team units are never overlooked by there opponent.
Leding the league in punt return yards and fourth in kickoff return yards, Frankie Williams is becoming a respected returner in the CFL. It also doesn’t hurt when you can put Brandon Banks — who leads the league in field goal missed return yards with 235 — in the end zone when the opposing team is attempting a field goal.
But what makes all this work is the coaching of Jeff Reinebold. He puts together schemes and plays that virtually make these speedy returners untouchable. Great blocking and exceptional return play make for a dangerous return game.
If the offence can stay consistent, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats will be in this year’s Grey Cup. Their defence has some of the top players in each positional group and their special teams groups are explosive.
Losing your starting quarterback and running back to season-ending injuries is often diminishing to any football team. But head coach Orlondo Steinauer has managed to create an environment that brings players together and ultimately leads to continuity among all. The Tiger-Cats play this Saturday in the Nation’s capital.
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