THE CANADIAN PRESS
- With files from CFL.ca
HAMILTON -- The Hamilton Tiger-Cats are itching to get back on the field against the B.C. Lions.
Hamilton hosts B.C. on Saturday in a rematch of last week's game in Vancouver that saw the Tiger-Cats start slowly in the Lions' 29-26 victory.
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"We had a great opportunity in Vancouver,'' said Hamilton quarterback Henry Burris, who leads the league with 2,806 passing yards (including 14 TDs and seven interceptions). "But when you get out of the gates that slow and then you make the mistakes that we did down the stretch, that's what's going to happen. You're going to lose the close ones like that.''
The Lions held the Burris and the offence scoreless in the first quarter and never trailed. B.C. quarterback Travis Lulay had his best outing of the season, throwing for 359 yards, three TDs and rushing for another.
Tiger-Cats running back C.J. Gable said having back-to-back games against B.C. has made it easier for Hamilton to focus on what needs to be done.
"It's easier because you already know what you did last game, instead of waiting two or three weeks later when it's not fresh in your mind,'' he said.
Gable is tied for third in the league with seven touchdowns. He acknowledged he missed some blocking assignments and he's seen on the film the holes he missed running through.
"It's fresh in my mind what I did and what I saw so when I go back out there,'' he said. "I'm ready for what they're going to bring.''
Burris said he will be looking to establish a running game with Gable this week, something he said was hard to do last week when the Tiger-Cats found themselves in 1st-and-15 or 2nd-and-20 situations.
Hamilton rushed for only a combined 50 yards last week.
"We've got to utilize him early and often,'' Burris said. "We're definitely at our best when he's running the ball and mixing it up and getting him out of the backfield as a receiver as well.''
The Lions will reportedly be without one of their top defensive players, Solomon Elimimian (42 tackles), who is out after injuring his thigh in the last game.
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Offensively, the Leos are coming off their best performance of the year. It is not at the point that they are satisfied but it is progressing.
“We definitely had growth as an offence”, running back Andrew Harris told BC Lions.com. “When Travis throws for 300 yards…it was something that everyone was talking about so it was good to see him do that. For me, I’m still not where I need to be…I need to be more productive when the ball is in my hands”.
BC did their part in their part of the home-and-home but winning on the road is a different story and something that Harris agrees they need to do a better job of.
“It comes down to focus and a want-to”, the versatile back continued. “We need to win this game and we need to prove to ourselves that we can win on the road”.
Home-and-home contests are few and far between for CFL clubs but Harris insists that playing a team for the second time in 8 days only fuels the competitive spirit of both sides.
“It’s kind of fun playing the same team because you are familiar with them and there is definitely more of a fire in the second game”.
Schematically, Harris head coach, Mike Benevides, says that not much alters when you play a team twice in a row. Rather, he thinks that it just helps re-affirm that you are doing the right things if the outcome goes your way.
“You can change a few things. There is probably some things in our repertoire that we didn’t use but you have to stick to your core”, he said earlier this week. “They are going to have the same players and we are going to have the same players pretty much so we have to do what is best for us. There is a core belief in what we do well so lets go try and do that.”
Burris on the other hand, is well aware that this is Hamilton's chance to quiet the critics who claim they can't beat the league's best teams.
"Here we are, we get another chance,'' he said. "We can get back into first place, so I think playing for first place in a big game is nothing to criticize. ... If we want to beat a great team, here we go and here's our chance. We've seen what they bring to the table. Here's our chance to make amends for what happened in Vancouver. It's going to be tough. But here's a great opportunity for us to make the next step.''