October 3, 2012

Dunk: Ticats offence bringing the heat to Edmonton

Henry Burris’s right arm was so hot in Hamilton’s 41-28 win over the Alouettes, you could’ve mistaken the smoke in the air for the smoke stacks seen in the distance from the press box side of Ivor Wynne Stadium.

Henry’s on Fire

Henry Burris completed 88 per cent of his passes for 326 yards and five touchdown passes, earning himself Offensive Player of the Week honours in the process.

» View: Henry Burris’ Stats

The 37-year-old pivot carved up Montreal’s secondary to the tune of 326 yards and five touchdowns. More impressively, Burris completed 28 of his 32 pass attempts – only four incompletions meant he had more scoring strikes than misfires.

“My job is to drop back and make the right reads and give the receivers a chance to make plays,” Burris said.

Smilin’ Hank connected with each of his starting five receivers at least three times; with Andy Fantuz leading the way to the tune of seven grabs for 98 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

“I think we all expected that every time we stepped on the field it was just going to be easy, but we’re finding out that it’s not,” Burris said of adapting to the many new faces around him on offence this season.

“You can’t just bring guys together, you have to get on the same page, go through the growing pains and learn each others ins and outs.”

Hamilton has now won two of their last three outings, with the lone loss occurring when they were only able to register 12 points off four field goals two weeks ago against the Blue Bombers.

In the two wins, however, Burris and his array of aerial weapons have displayed signs of being an extremely explosive unit, much like everyone expected them to be during training camp in June.

“For us to come out and have that effort like we did against Edmonton, then to go out and lay a goose egg [in Winnipeg], it goes to show you that each and every time we step on the field we have to bring it,” Burris said.

As the offence heats up, so has the pass rush. Hamilton has registered 13 of their 23 sacks this season over its last four contests, with veteran Jermaine leading the way with six sacks over his last four games.

“I’m really getting a chance to play all over the field and make a name for myself in this league,” the 6-foot-4, 265-pound defensive lineman said.

McElveen spent his first four seasons with the Alouettes, before landing in the Hammer this past off-season, where he initially met Ticats coordinator Casey Creehan. Creehan was the Alouettes linebacker coach in 2008.

“Me and Coach Creehan go back to when he coached in Montreal,” the 28-year-old said. “I already knew what he expected of me. He lets me play all over the field like I like to do.”

McElveen has lined up at every defensive line spot this season in Creehan’s defensive scheme. From weak side end, nose tackle, three technique or strong side tackle to strong side end – a versatility not seen from many linemen in the CFL.
“I can play everything on the defensive line. I want everybody to get some of this,” McElveen asserted. “I’m quicker and more athletic than every offensive lineman in the league. So I feel if I get a one-on-one matchup I should beat him. That’s my mindset.”

Number 94’s four-game sack streak, which includes two games with multiple quarterback takedowns, has vaulted him up the CFL sack leaderboard.

McElveen’s six sacks place him tied for fourth among all pass rushers. Just three back of league-leader Keron Williams who has nine.

The next quarterback in McElveen’s crosshairs will be Eskimos starter Kerry Joseph. Hamilton travels to Edmonton on Friday night and will be looking for their first win at Commonwealth Stadium since 2006.

“It’s been that long,” a surprised McEvleen said, after hearing it has been over six years since the Ticats left Alberta’s capital city with a win.

Hamilton’s veteran pivot has made many a trip to Edmonton’s home field during his time with his former team, the Calgary Stampeders.

Burris knows it’s a tough building to play in, but stated the Ticats should have confidence after laying a 51-8 beating on the Eskimos in Week 12.

“My message to the team was, this is the same team we played a couple weeks back, but we’re playing them on a different surface,” he said. “What really changes, it’s still the same people.”

Of course the 43-point win over Edmonton came in the comfy confines of Ivor Wynne Stadium where the Ticats have enjoyed some success, winning four of their seven outings on home soil.

However, the Tiger-Cats are hoping their success at home can begin translating into some success on the road.

“We’re battling for a playoff spot with those guys,” Burris said about the Eskimos. “If we want to be on the next level and in the dance for the big one, we have to win on the road.”

“Our future, as far as this season, lies in Edmonton on Friday night.”

Notes: Burris has 32 scoring strikes so far this season and with two more he will set a new franchise record for touchdown pass in a single season…Kevin Glenn currently holds the record from when he threw 33 touchdowns in 2010… Chris Williams is three touchdowns away from setting a new Ticats single season franchise record currently shared by Tony Champion and Ronald Williams with 15