- Free Agency
THE CANADIAN PRESS
HAMILTON — The Hamilton Tiger-Cats are playing on a short week with a short memory.
That’s the approach they’re taking for their home game against the Edmonton Eskimos on Friday, just five days after being pummelled 43-13 in Montreal by the Alouettes.
“In this business, you have to have a short memory, whether it’s good or bad,” said Ticats defensive end Stevie Baggs. “Because if it’s good and you dwell on that, you’ll get humbled immediately. If it’s bad and you’re dwelling on that, you’ll be in a lull. So we’ve moved past that.
“We understand that we took one on the chin last week. And now, it’s time to move forward.”
The same could apply to Edmonton (6-4), which is coming off a 30-20 home loss to Calgary last Friday after dominating their provincial rivals 35-7 at McMahon on Labour Day. The Eskimos are currently second in the West Division, two points behind the front-running Stampeders (7-3).
“We essentially have to worry about us,” said Eskimos head coach Kavis Reed. “We truly control our destiny.
“We’re four points ahead of (third-place B.C.), six points ahead of (fourth-place Saskatchewan) and two points behind Calgary with the tie-breaker in hand. If we go play football the way we should go play football, I think we’ll be in good standing when the season is done.”
It’s been a swell of emotion for the Ticats (5-5) since their last home game when they beat Montreal 44-21 on Labour Day and thought they had finally come into their own having defeated the defending Grey Cup champs twice already this season.
But they had simply stirred a hornet’s net, and were certainly humbled by the Als at Molson Stadium last Sunday.
Now it’s Ricky Ray and the Eskimos, who beat Hamilton 28-10 in the second week of the season. But that was Edmonton was beginning to assemble its stirring 5-0 start to the 2011 campaign.
Edmonton comes in having won only once in its past five games. And Hamilton now boasts the second-most potent offence in the league, behind Montreal, and is 4-1 at home this season.
“We know playing at Ivor Wynne Stadium is going to be tough,” said Reed. “Playing a very tough football team in a difficult environment is going to make the challenge that much greater.
“But I think our football team is mentally prepared to go in there and make it a battle and see what happens at the end.”
Hamilton’s offence will have to contend with Eskimos defensive end Marcus Howard, who signed as a free agent with Edmonton on Aug. 1 and has registered sacks in four straight games.
“I would argue he’s one of the best defensive ends in the league,” Reed said. “He’s a very explosive young man, very cerebral and picked up this game very quickly.
“We were very worried from a mental aspect he would have some struggles but he did not have any and it’s showing with his productivity.”
Hamilton head coach Marcel Bellefeuille said his team will focus on Ray, who passed for 388 yards in their previous meeting with one touchdown pass and no interceptions. Edmonton running back Jerome Messam kept the attack balanced with 104 yards on the ground.
“When we really looked back and dissected that (Week 2) game defensively, a lot of their drives came off of explosions that (Ray) created,” said Bellefeuille.
“Either standing in the pocket, hanging onto the ball, making that throw late, or whether he scrambled around and made plays and kept drives alive with his legs. . . That’s item No. 1, keeping him in the pocket and try to eliminate those type of plays and eliminate the explosions on offence.”
Given Edmonton is also coming in following a loss, Ticats quarterback Kevin Glenn expects both teams will come out anxious to get back on the winning track.
“Both teams are coming off of a loss, so both teams are going to be amped up to get a win,” said Glenn, who now has a bobble-head doll that the organization is handing out to fans this game. “So I think the biggest thing is us coming out on fire.”
While Glenn said the Montreal loss has not been a talking point in the locker-room, he has felt a heightened energy on the practice field.
“It’s one of those things where you’re anxious to get back on the field to kind of redeem yourself and get a win back under your belt,” Glenn said.
NOTES: Members of the 1986 Ticats team will be on hand for Friday’s game as part of a 25th anniversary reunion of the squad. That year, Hamilton posted a 9-8-1 record and rallied from a 14-point deficit to beat Toronto in the two-game, total-point East final before registering a 39-15 upset Grey Cup win over an Eskimos team that had registered a league-best 13-4-1 record. Former Ticats Rocky DiPietro, Ben Zambiasi and Grover Covington, all members of
the Canadian Football Hall of Fame, are scheduled to sign autographs at Ivor Wynne Stadium prior to the game.