MONTREAL — Coming off their bye week, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats will travel to Percival Molson Stadium on Friday to take on the Montreal Alouettes in hopes to get their first win of the early campaign.
Entering Week 4, the Tiger-Cats have yet to win a contest but it’s still only a few weeks into the year and as we know, it’s a long campaign and there’s plenty of football yet to be played.
While their attempt to climb the East Division standings will by no means be insurmountable, their first game will not be easy as they will take on Vernon Adams Jr. and the Alouette offence.
Adams Jr., 28, spent time with the Tiger-Cats organization during the 2018 season under then-head coach, June Jones. After being released by the Tabbies, the former Oregon Duck has since flourished in his Alouette threads. In 2019, Adams exploded onto the CFL scene. Recording 3,942 passing yards and 394 rushing yards for a combined 36 touchdowns, his mobility is something Tiger-Cats’ head coach, Orlando Steinauer acknowledged.
“You’re always going to prepare for your opponent and have a plan,” said Steinauer. “He’s playing confident. Khari is doing a great job of putting him in situations where he can digest and anytime you can ad-lib, that’s just on the player. He’s just a player who makes plays and we’re definitely aware of it, but if you spend too much time on that, you’re spending time less on things that you believe in and what you want to do so it has to be a nice balance.”
Tasked this week to contain Adams Jr. to the pocket will be the Tiger-Cats linebacking core of Kameron Kelly, Simoni Lawrence and Jovan Santos-Knox, who spoke about the challenge Saturday’s game brings.
“It’s a great challenge, he’s a great player,” said Santos-Knox. “He can extend plays and make average plays look great just with his skillset, so it’s a challenge as a defence and as a linebacker group, you know, it’s our job to try and bottle him in.”
Looking inward, Steinauer also took the time to speak about the play of his offensive line, a unit that has struggled so far.
“We haven’t been the same, it’s hard to gel on a bye week,” said Steinauer. “We’ve played two games, we’ve had training camp, but the way we look now is not what we looked like in training camp. We’re just working through it. We’re going to go out there and be a no-excuse football team and we’re going out there expecting to win just like every team does,” he added.
Behind that offensive line this week who will be Dane Evans. Evans, who will make his first start since the 2019 Grey Cup over the inured Jeremiah Masoli, talked about what they have to do differently this week.
“We have to be physical and we just have to play our game,” said Evans. We know what it is, we read the news, we started 0-2, but we’re finally being able to play in the East and we’re looking forward to it,” he added.
With just a pair of games played between the Als and the Ticats respectively, Montreal has gained 154.5 more yards of offence than Hamilton. Even though the Ticats’ offensive production is down relative to past seasons, Alouettes’ head coach, Kahari Jones is not taking them lightly.
“We know who they are and what they’re about,” said Jones. “We know they’re a good team, they still have a lot of those same pieces from a team that went 15-3. We’re preparing for a really good Hamilton Ticat team…it’s tough at the start of the season when you haven’t played in a year and you’re still kind of getting your bearings…we’re going to prepare for the best Hamilton Ticat team that they can be,” Jones added.
One area of their game that the Alouette defence will look to sure up this week is their discipline. After being flagged 16 times for a total of 171 yards against Calgary, Adarius Pickett knows the team has some work to do on that end.
“That game was tough, tough game, lot of penalties and stuff like that,” said Pickett.
Definitely got to be more disciplined, definitely got to listen to each other more and stuff like that,” he added.
Friday will also mark the first home game for the Alouettes, something that Chris Ackie can’t help but be excited about.
“The biggest thing that I’d say that I missed was the fans,” said Ackie. “We know in 2019 when we were pretty much the ‘comeback kids’, the stadium was electric. The fans were going crazy, the night games, they had their cell phones out with the white lights and just create a whole ambiance within the stadium. Probably looking forward to getting back to that and bringing football back to Montreal.”
Kickoff is set for Friday night at 7:30 p.m. ET on TSN and ESPNews. You can also follow along with all the action on CFL.ca’s Game Tracker.