Tonight the 5-5 Riders are in Hamilton to face the 2-8 Ti-Cats. A few weeks ago this game seemed like a free space on the bingo card and that we would abuse them like a Jason Maas headset. Turns out the whole Austin firing himself thing seems to be working as the Cats are now on a two game win streak and have passed the “dumpster fire” baton to Montreal. Personally I still wonder if it was John Chick holding them back. Fact remains that Hamilton is undefeated without him and Edmonton is winless with him (birthrates at the Chick household are at an all-time low as a result). Thanks to the wonderful mess that is the East division the team that started 0-7 has a legit shot at a first round bye, while a team that is currently .500 is at risk of missing the playoffs.
All the talk all week in Riderville has been about Kevin Glenn’s hand. Photos of him signing autographs were more highly analyzed than evidence in a criminal trial. As of right now Glenn is a game time decision. My gut says it’s unlikely he plays but if he’s even close to able to go, you know he’ll be in there. While his presence certainly changes our offensive game plan, his absence is not debilitating. Bridge is a step down from Glenn but not enough that it should be problematic. First and foremost we need a heavy dose of LaFrance. With Ted Laurent still out, I would attack them on the ground a lot. If Bridge plays I would utilise his legs to attack as well. He’s not the precision passer Glenn is but his mobility can certainly compensate for that and open up his receivers down field. Even if you just included their 2 games under June Jones, Hamilton would still have the 7th ranked pass defense. Don Unamba is manning one of their corners. Can’t tell me we can exploit that with one of our receivers. The Ti-Cat defense has been playing far better these past 2 games (allowing 22 points per game as opposed to the 35 they were accustomed to) but remember that one of those games was against the back-up QB (Ott) and one of those games they almost lost because they couldn’t execute a kneel down properly (Tor). We should not fear this defense even with Bridge in. Be aggressive, control the line of scrimmage, run the ball, push downfield with Carter and Roosevelt. Limit the turnovers and we should be fine.
Much is being made of the impact Masoli has had on rejuvenating the Ti-Cat Offense. First off the Ti-Cat offense didn’t really exist through the first 8 games so anything beyond falling backwards is technically an improvement. Second, their offense still isn’t very good under Masoli. 7th in scoring, 9th in passing yards. So yeah “not very good” is an improvement over “utterly embarrassing” but it’s still not very good. Foster and Knox will play and I expect Foster to have a huge impact even though he will go largely unnoticed in the game (which is exactly what we want). A big concern is Masoli’s mobility. He ran for 73 yards last week and that’s a dimension to their offense that we can’t allow. A lot of it will boil down to re-establishing dominance in the trenches. We got zero pressure on Nichols last week but the Hamilton O-line is not as good as the Winnipeg to the same extent that my quarterbacking skills are not as good as Tom Brady’s. I have no clue what kind of shape he is in but I am very intrigued to see TJ Barnes play… all 6’07 355 pounds of him. I mean I’m sure Jones will have him dropping into coverage but when he does rush he may just eat a Ti-Cat in the process… literally. Overall we need to take away the ground game and force Masoli to beat us through the air. We need to put pressure on him because Masoli is prone to big mistakes…. He has 13 interceptions and 5 fumbles over his past 10 starts. Time for a bounce back game for our D.
I get that Hamilton is not the pushover they were at the start of the year but this is still a game that we should win. We need to prove that the Edmonton road game wasn’t an anomaly and play solid ball on the road for a second time this season. If Glenn plays, I say we win by 2 scores. Assuming Bridge plays, I’m still going Riders but with a smaller margin of victory.
Riders by a Roosevelt TD