Kyle Myers | Ticats.ca
HAMILTON -- The Tiger-Cats entered the bye week on a high note with a 30–29 victory over the Edmonton Eskimos in Week 6.
For Head Coach Kent Austin, the win is an important part of the process his team is undergoing as they find their identity this season.
“When you get better, you want to see that rewarded,” Austin said after practice Sunday. “The risk you have is if you’re improving, but not getting rewarded, it can be deflating to a football team that’s trying to climb and get better. The players are seeing the tangible evidence on the football field, and then it gets rewarded with a victory.”
The Ticats entered the bye at what Austin feels was an advantageous time, as it gave a team with the most populated injury list in the CFL a chance to heal.
“Where it was scheduled for us this year was a good thing considering our health, so hopefully it’ll pay dividends here,” he said.
Receiver Andy Fantuz has been sidelined since suffering a leg injury in practice in Week 2 but has increased his workload over the last two days.
The seven-year veteran represents another potential weapon for a Ticats offence which has had no trouble producing without him, as the emergence of young receivers like Greg Ellingson, Bakari Grant, and Sam Giguere have given quarterback Henry Burris plenty of choices when he drops back to pass.
“In (Andy’s) absence, other guys have been able to step up and fill that void,” said Burris. “Him not being available has given guys chances to make a lot of plays. You can see the weapons that we have on offence.”
Burris also credits the offensive system under Tommy Condell for helping the Tiger-Cats endure the loss of their number one receiver.
“The good thing about our offence is that we spread the ball around,” he said. “It makes everybody a viable option. Defences can’t just key in on one guy, because if they do we’ve got five other guys out there that can make plays for us.”
Burris once again leads the CFL in passing yards after seven weeks, and the hard work of the Ticats has rewarded them with another victory. With the aid of a week of rest after last week’s win, Hamilton enters week eight much more consistent in terms of starting personnel, something that has been difficult to achieve with the number of injuries the team has suffered this season.
The victory also gives the Ticats an emotional boost, and Burris believes that the team’s success in Edmonton will carry forward into a two-game set with the Blue Bombers, which begins on Friday in Winnipeg.
“You always want to get some momentum going on your side, (the win) gets us going in the right direction,” he said. “Now it’s about us moving forward. We’re feeling good about things, but we need to maintain the urgency and the hunger to get better.”
“It makes you feel good to go into the week off knowing that there’s a bright future ahead for this team,” he continued. “Now it’s about putting in the work to get it done next week, and looking forward to two big ones against Winnipeg.”