Ticats snack on depleted Alouettes in 31-7 win, still have work to do

Ticats snack on depleted Alouettes in 31-7 win, still have work to do

Friday's game in Montreal started out poorly for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, who trailed 3-0 after the first and only led the Alouettes 5-4 at the half thanks to a late safety and a 56-yard field goal at the buzzer. However, things got much better for them after the break, as they put up 14 third-quarter points and 12 in the final frame while holding Montreal to just three, giving them a dominant 31-7 win (in an ugly game that many probably wish they hadn't watched) and improving their record to 2-2. That final score shouldn't indicate that all of the Tiger-Cats' issues we've seen in their losses over the past two past two weeks are magically solved, especially considering how many key pieces the Alouettes were missing, but it is an important win for Hamilton, and one that feels like progress.

This was a particularly good showing from the Tiger-Cats' defence, and one they accomplished despite being hung out to dry by the offence in the first half. They got plenty of pressure on Montreal quarterbacks Rakeem Cato and Vernon Adams Jr., recording eight sacks on the night, and they also limited the run, holding Brandon Rutley to just 29 yards on 10 carries. They covered well downfield, too, holding Cato to 203 passing yards and Adams to 35. Adrian Tracy (11 tackles, two sacks), John Chick (three tackles, two sacks), Simoni Lawrence (five tackles and a sack), and Ted Laurent (three tackles and a sack) all particularly stood out, but this was a solid group effort. The Hamilton defence was okay even in losses to B.C. and Winnipeg, allowing just 28 points in both of those games despite being left on the field by the offence, but it was much better than okay Friday night, and that speaks well for both the talent they have and the work of defensive coordinator Orlondo Steinauer in putting his players in positions to succeed.

Of course, there are still plenty of concerns for Hamilton. Doubters of the defence will point out that they were playing against two quarterbacks with relatively little CFL experience (Montreal starter Kevin Glenn missed this one with an eye infection), a banged-up receiving corps missing two key starters thanks to injury (S.J. Green and Kenny Stafford), and a backup running back (thanks to Tyrell Sutton's injury). That's as may be, but they can only play against who the other team sends out there, so while this result doesn't necessarily make their defence world-beaters, it isn't easy to criticize on the defensive end.

The bigger issue is the Tiger-Cats' offence, which produced next to nothing for the whole first half, and only found some life after a Brandon Banks punt return for a touchdown in the third quarter gave Hamilton a 12-4 lead. Jeremiah Masoli's 19 completions on 27 attempts for 208 yards and an interception is an uninspiring stat line, and his inability to move the chains for much of the game was even worse. The Ticats' ground game wasn't great either, as C.J. Gable needed 17 carries to get his 61 yards. This offence is still very much a work in progress, and you can bet Hamilton fans will be counting the days until starting quarterback Zach Collaros can return to game action. Friday's game was a competent performance from the Ticats and gave them a much-needed win to get back to .500, but it was an ugly one, and one that suggests they still have issues on offence. Ugly wins still count, but there's a lot of improvement still needed in Hamilton.