Hamilton has a crucial back-to-back set with East-leading Toronto coming up on the schedule, a pair of games that will ultimately decide the regular season East Division champion.
It’s certain the Ticats will lean on their highest paid receiver, Andy Fantuz, who happened to have his best game of the 2013 campaign in the Tabbies season-opening close loss to the same Argos. Fantuz had season highs recording 10 catches and 155 yards, an impressive showing from the 2010 Most Outstanding Canadian.
In such a big home-and-home series against the Argos, it seems fitting to revisit Fantuz’s performance in Week 1 at the Rogers Centre. Odds are if Fantuz produces another 150-plus-yard effort, Hamilton will leave Toronto with a much-needed victory.
Andy Fantuz's Week 1 Receptions Log Against Argonauts:
1 – 8:33 left in first quarter. Fantuz lined up as the fourth and inside receiver in a 4-1 receiver set. He runs a sit down route in the underneath hole in zone coverage. Gain of eight yards on first down. A perfect example of the time and space awareness head coach Kent Austin talks about when describing what Fantuz does well as a receiver. It’s just the beginning of Fantuz wreaking havoc on the Argos zone defence in this game.
2 – 1:12 left in first…Fantuz lined up as the second and inside receiver in a 2-1 receiver set with a tight end lined up on the strong side. Fantuz releases outside of the strong side defensive halfback, nobody even lays a hand on number 83 and Henry Burris steps up into the pocket to buy some time. Safety Matt Black loses track of Fantuz and he makes Toronto pay for the coverage bust with a 64-yard touchdown reception right down the seam.
3 – 13:18 left in second. Fantuz lined up as the second and inside receiver in a 2-3 receiver set. Burris breaks the pocket to the right and at the same time Fantuz is working back to his quarterback and finds a hole in the zone defence. He throttles down and makes a sliding catch for a 10-yard gain to convert a 2nd and 6 into a first down. Fantuz did a great job of working behind the strong side halfback into the open hole in the zone. Time and space awareness at it’s best for Fantuz once again.
4 – 10:54 left in the second. Fantuz lined up as the second and inside receiver in a 3-2 receiver set. He runs another sit down route, a hook. He curls behind the strong side halfback, finds the open hole again, jumps and catches the ball to convert a 2nd and 10 into a first down for Hamilton.
5 – 7:23 left in the second quarter. Fantuz lined up as the third and inside receiver in a 3-2 receiver set. Burris hits Fantuz on a simple flat out route for 5 yards.
6 – 2:41 left in the second quarter. Fantuz lined up as the third and inside receiver in a 3-2 receiver set. Locked in man coverage Fantuz runs a deep in route at about 14 yards and creates enough separation to make the catch and convert a 2nd and 8 into a first down.
7 – 7:33 left in the third quarter. Fantuz lined up as the third and inside receiver in a 3-1 receiver set. He runs an out route and Burris hits him in rhythm for a 9-yard gain on first down.
8 – 1:21 left in the third quarter. Fantuz lined up on the line as a flexed tight end and the fourth and inside receiver in a 4-1 receiver set. Fantuz runs an out route against man coverage and with Burris moving in the pocket, he works back to his quarterback, makes the catch and dives to pick up a first down.
9 – 14:41 left in the fourth quarter. Fantuz lined up as the third and inside receiver in a 3-2 receiver set. Running a deep in route, Fantuz finds yet another hole in the defensive coverage and gains 14 yards to convert a 2nd and 10 into a first down.
10 – 10:03 left in the fourth quarter. Fantuz lined up as the second and inside receiver on the weak side in a 3-2 receiver set. Fantuz, against man coverage, runs a beautiful out route, stemming and creating separation to gain 9 on first down.
Six of Fantuz’s 10 catches in the game resulted in either first downs or a touchdown and even after making six catches in the first half the Argos couldn’t stop him as went on to grab four more passes in the second.
Increased attention or not, Fantuz is capable of producing at a high level and the Ticats will need him to play at that elite pace in the first of two straight meetings against the Argos with the East Division regular season title hanging in the balance.