OTTAWA — The Hamilton Tiger-Cats hit the road to take on the Ottawa REDBLACKS on Friday Night Football at TD Place.
It’s a short week for Hamilton after they dropped their Labour Day Classic contest to the Toronto Argonauts on Monday.
Ottawa should be well rested and prepared given they were on a bye over the long weekend. The last time they took to the field they dropped a 30-20 decision to the Edmonton Elks, a loss that extended their losing streak to five games.
These two teams have already met twice this season and it was the Ticats who walked away with victories in both meetings.
Despite playing twice, quarterback Taylor Powell has yet to see the REDBLACKS defence as it was Bo Levi Mitchell and Matthew Shiltz making the starts in the previous matchups.
Powell heads into the third meeting coming off a 296-yard, three touchdown performance against the Argonauts in what was a strong offensive performance. Shiltz returns to the lineup this week and will be the third-string option for Hamilton while Kai Locksley will be the backup to Powell.
The Ticats receiving game continues to expand with multiple options. Tim White leads the way but Terry Godwin, Kiondre Smith, and Tyreik McAllister have all shown an ability to step up and make plays.
As well as he’s been playing, Godwin says his only goal is to pick up a victory each week.
“If my team doesn’t come out with the win, I’m not satisfied with my production,” Godwin told reporters. “My end goal is just like everybody’s on the team, we want to win.”
With the REDBLACKS surrendering a league worst 325.8 pass yards per game, Powell will certainly look downfield consistently. They’ll be met by defensive back Brandin Dandridge who has four interceptions and a forced fumble in eight games.
The REDBLACKS front held Ticats running back James Butler to 12 yards back on July 28 but he’s been playing better of late, as he has two of his three 100-plus yard rushing games over the last three contests. Against a strong Argos defensive front, he averaged 5.7 yards on 11 carries.
Much of his success can be attributed to his offensive line, led by Joel Figueroa who was a CFL honourable mention for his play against Toronto.
He’ll see another talented set of linemen and linebackers this week as the REDBLACKS have been second best against the run behind only Toronto, allowing 77.9 yards per game. Lorenzo Mauldin IV and Bryce Carter are responsible for containing Butler and not giving him space to get to the outside of the field. If they can do that, Jovan Santos-Knox and Douglas Coleman will be there to limit his yardage in the middle.
The aggressiveness doesn’t stop with stifling the running back, as the REDBLACKS front has 28 sacks on the season.
To get a win in the season series, and snap their five-game skid, Dustin Crum needs to be better in head coach Bob Dyce’s offence.
There’s no doubt Crum will look to use his legs as he has all season, including for 173 yards in the two games against the Ticats. Crum, along with Devonte Williams and Jackson Bennett have led Ottawa to 1,398 rushing yards this season, which is among the league’s top totals.
Facing a strong, multi-faceted run game is nothing new to Orlondo Steinauer’s bunch after taking on the Argos. Lineman Mason Bennett, who had a sack in the Labour Day Classic, and linebacker Jameer Thurman are tabbed with limiting yards on the ground.
While running the ball has been a strength, it hasn’t been when Crum puts the ball in the air. Ottawa is averaging a league low 202.7 yards via the pass. Justin Hardy led all of their receivers with 65 yards in their last meeting.
Attempting to stop the pass hasn’t gone overly well this season in the Steel City, but they did limit Chad Kelly to 201 yards. Javion Elliott and Stavros Katsantonis both had a pick and will try to make it consecutive strong games.
Steinauer is embracing the opportunity to get back on the field in a short week.
“The best way to get a taste out of your mouth is to play another game,” Steinauer told reporters. “The schedule is the schedule. We’ll be ready to go.”
With just two points separating Hamilton and Ottawa in the standings, there’s a lot at stake as Week 14 gets underway.