Kyle Myers | Ticats.ca Staff
HAMILTON -- “We want to constantly be in the process of getting better.”
Those were some of the first words out of Kent Austin’s mouth Monday, after the Tiger-Cats first day of practice following a 37–18 victory over the Blue Bombers this past weekend.
“Not only as a football team,” he continued, “but for each individual player to learn their craft and be in that constant mode of improvement.”
One player who comes to mind when discussing terms like ‘improvement’ is C.J. Gable, the Ticats rookie tailback who has been an important part of the team’s offence since day one and is establishing himself more and more each week.
Gable scored his fifth touchdown of the season in Friday’s victory, a total that leads not only the Ticats but all CFL rookies. He also tallied a career-high 147 yards from scrimmage, putting together what was his best all-around performance so far this season.
“Everything is going really well right now,” Gable said. “Everything is making sense to me, the playbook isn’t just words and numbers anymore, all the concepts are coming together. I’m really getting a deeper understanding of what we’re doing here.”
What has made Gable such a valuable piece for the Ticats offence this season hasn’t been his proficiency in just one area of the game, it’s his versatility: his ability to excel in all the roles that a running back is required to take on.
“I’ve been a fan of C.J.’s since we worked him out,” said Austin. “C.J.’s a real pro. He really works at wanting to get better and wanting to be good, and he’s a complete back. You watch him protect the quarterback and make plays in the run game and the passing game, he’s a pretty good football player.”
Gable’s performances so far this season have turned some heads – his hurdling of a hopeless Eskimos’ defensive back in week six certainly comes to mind – but it’s his work on the practice field and in the film room which has most impressed Austin and the coaching staff.
“Back in college you have a set playbook for the year, with a few wrinkles in it week to week, but here I feel like I’m getting a new playbook each and every week,” Gable said. “I have to really pay attention and really put my work in, sitting down watching film, asking questions that on game day I don’t have any hesitation. I go full speed in practice and if I make a mistake, I ask them what I did wrong to the detail so I can get it right.”
With 364 yards from scrimmage and five touchdowns through the first seven games of his CFL career, Gable is starting to make some noise as a potential Most Outstanding Rookie candidate, though he claims the thought has never entered his mind.
“I’ve just been thinking about winning games,” he said. “For us it’s a team thing, so I’m worried about team first, individual second. We have to get on a roll right now, and if I need to score touchdowns for that to happen, so be it. Anything I can do to help this team win.”