GUELPH -- The Stampeders and the Tiger-Cats meet for the second and final time this season on Saturday afternoon, as a a crucial matchup unfolds at Alumni Stadium in Guelph.
The last time they met resulted in a thrilling back-and-forth win for the Stampeders, who rallied with a late fourth-quarter touchdown to earn a 26-22 win at McMahon Stadium. Two weeks later the Ticats look to even the score, only this time it’ll have to be against Kevin Glenn, who has since returned from injury.
“He’s a good quarterback with a lot of experience, he’s played a lot of football,” Tabbies’ Head Coach and General Manager Kent Austin told Ticats.ca. “He’s accurate, he plays well within their system as their other quarterbacks do.”
“They’re a good football team, we’ve got a pretty big challenge ahead of us.”
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Bo Levi Mitchell earned the start and the victory the last time out and looked composed in just his third career start, completing the comeback with an eight-play, 85-yard drive in 2:05 that culminated with the game-winning touchdown pass to Marquay McDaniel.
The Ticats bounced back from their missed opportunity with a spirited 28-26 win over the Alouettes a week ago during Touchdown Atlantic in Moncton, and now with their sights on top spot in the East Division hope to put together consecutive wins.
Trailing the first-place Toronto Argonauts by four points and about to head into a stretch of five straight divisional games to close out the season, getting two points at home against the Stamps becomes ever so important for the Ticats if they’re going to make a run.
“Eliminate the big mistake, that’s primarily it,” said Austin when asked what it’ll take to earn two points against the league’s top-ranked team.
“Whether it’s a physical error, or more importantly a missed assignment and a lack of understanding of how to execute a particular defensive or offensive play.”
“That’s the biggest thing, we played well enough for most of that game (two weeks ago in Calgary) to have an opportunity to win it, we did not play well enough at the end of the game to win it.”
Yet while Austin is focused on the finer details, the Ticats are making a statement to the rest of the league, mostly with their perseverance. Few teams have been more hampered by injuries, yet Austin’s club has been able to overcome constant lineup changes to remain a contender.
While last week Neil King won over fans in Moncton with an admirable performance as an injury replacement, earlier in the season Greg Ellingson earned his big break thanks in part to a dinged up receiving corps.
Whereas Ellingson has put up an outstanding rookie season, now sitting third in the league in receiving yards with 800, he is now forced out of action with a lower-body injury and suddenly once again it’s next man up.
Entering the equation will be Luke Tasker, the quick and shifty receiver that Austin coached during his time at Cornell University.
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“I’m confident in the young man,” said Austin. “Obviously it’s a different game, but if anyone can pick it up quickly it’s him. He’s very bright and he knows our offence, so that’s a huge leg up.”
Austin compared Tasker to the breakout star Ellingson, particularly in the sense that they could both learn the offence so quickly.
“I’d say there was a similarity there, for sure,” said Austin. “They both have very good ball skills, they’re both really bright, they can play more than one position which is really helpful and important on our offence to be able to move guys around and pair them properly according to what they’re doing.”
“Those are some similarities, Greg is a taller receiver and probably has a little bit better all-out speed when he’s healthy, Luke’s probably a little bit quicker in his first step.”
While the Ticats have dealt with their injuries admirably, the Stampeders have faced similar pitfalls, but at the quarterback position. All three quarterbacks on the roster have started and won at least one game, helping the Stamps remain the league’s top team with an impressive record of 9-3.
Yet the Stampeders enter Saturday’s contest in somewhat of a bitter mood, despite having Glenn back under centre after missing a couple of starts, in the wake of a 33-27 loss at home to the Argonauts. The Stamps surrendered a 10-point lead in that game, and in the end couldn’t hold off more late-game magic from Zach Collaros and the Boatmen.
A week after having their home winning streak spoiled, it’s back to business for the Stampeders, who look to respond to a tough loss at home with continued dominance on the road.
|The last time they met|
Friday, September 13, 2013
Calgary 26, Hamilton 22
Bo Levi Mitchell hit Marquay McDaniel for a 15-yard touchdown pass late in the fourth quarter, as the Stamps earned a thrilling 26-22 win over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats on Friday night at McMahon Stadium.
» Read more.
“Our guys go on the road and treat it as a business trip,” Head Coach and General Manager John Hufnagel told Stampeders.com. “Winning football games is very important to them and they don’t see the difference between playing at McMahon Stadium or on the road.”
“As long as they get themselves ready to play, they have a good chance to succeed. We don’t always win, but we play hard and try to win.”
The Stamps appeared to be on track to improve to 10-2 on the season last weekend, but were outscored 18-9 in the second half and could only muster two points in the fourth quarter on a pair of singles.
The peak of frustration came on the game’s second-last possession, when Glenn and the offence seemingly struck on a long touchdown pass to Brad Sinopoli, only to have the play called back on a penalty for offensive pass interference.
Still, Glenn wasn’t about to make excuses as the team looks to improve before Saturday’s game. Like the Ticats, the Stampeders also have a remaining schedule loaded with divisional opponents, with the final four games of the season coming against the West.
“Too many mistakes, penalties, turnovers took us out of some drives,” Glenn told the team’s official website. “Those kinds of things, this is professional sports, we can’t consistently do that and it caught up with us.”
“As a team we can’t get complacent and keep riding the wave, we’ve got to make sure we come out every week and get better.”
As for finding a way to shut down Burris and the explosive Hamilton offence, Hufnagel said all aspects of the defence will need to be firing on all cylinders.
“We need a lot tighter coverage,” said Hufnagel. “We gave some throws [in the first meeting] and we have to contest some of those throws.”
“We have to be disruptive, get into the offensive backfield, put some pressure on [Burris] and also get some good jams on the receivers to shut down their timing.”
The Stamps currently hold just a one-game edge for top spot in the West, with the Roughriders and Lions a close second-place.
Kickoff is at 6:00 P.M. ET, and can be seen on TSN or followed live via Game Tracker on CFL.ca and CFL Mobile.
- With files from Ticats.ca/Stampeders.com