July 24, 2014

Dunk: Ticats seem primed to turn the tide


In Hamilton’s last two outings it’s been a classic case of inches being the difference between winning and losing.

Back in Week 2, with the Ticats down by four, on the last play of the game, Dan LeFevour came up just short of the goal line on a quarterback draw call. And just a week ago, Hamilton trailing by three, LeFevour led the team into field goal range late in the game when holder Luke Tasker had the ball slip on him and no kick was even attempted.

Just two plays, if executed successfully, could have potentially seen the team with two wins after three games.

“You can say we could have won, we should have won or we had a chance to win, but until you pull it together you can’t say anything,” Ticats receiver Bakari Grant said.  

For the first time in 637 days the Ticats will play a regular season game in the Steel City. Last time Hamilton’s beloved football team did so was back on October 27, 2012.  Saturday will mark the first ever regular season Canadian Football League game at McMaster’s Ron Joyce Stadium – a place the Ticats are comfortable.

With just 10 catches for 76 yards so far in 2014, Bakari Grant knows he needs to contribute more offensively.

“It’s an advantage for us with the fact that we practice here every day,” Grant said.

“It will be nice not to travel to be honest – be able to sleep in our own beds. It will be good to be home,” quarterback Dan LeFevour said.

After taking the majority of first teams reps during the week of preparation for the Ticats home opener against Ottawa, it seems likely LeFevour will start at quarterback for Hamilton.

“I’m preparing the same as every week since I’ve been here and that’s all I can do,” LeFevour said.

“You just have to be ready to go no matter what my role is. I study like I’m playing. It’s what you have to do no matter where you are on the depth chart.”

If indeed LeFevour does get the nod to lead Hamilton’s offence on Saturday, it will be well earned. He learned the nuances of the CFL game in 2012, saw action in certain packages last year and been efficient so far this season.

LeFevour has completed 17 of 22 passes for 146 yards and put the Ticats in a position to win or tie in each of the teams last two contests. Seeing LeFevour possibly start and get an entire 60 minutes to show what he’s capable of will be intriguing to watch.

More than four years have passed since LeFevour went into a game as the starting quarterback. Back on January 6, 2010 LeFevour threw for 395 yards to lead Central Michigan University to a thrilling double overtime 44-41 GMAC Bowl win over Troy University. A result Hamilton would certainly be pleased to get on Saturday.

Plain and simple whoever lines up behind centre for the Ticats needs to be more productive for the team to have a legitimate chance at a victory. Hamilton is averaging less than 200 yards passing per game so far this season, the second lowest amount in the league.

“We have to get more consistent at the quarterback position,” LeFevour said. “We have to make more plays.”

“The biggest thing is letting them know that they don’t have to come in and take over the game by themselves. They have the support of the receivers, running backs and offensive line,” Grant, Hamilton’s leading receiver in 2013, said. “Once they understand they have that support and once they get comfortable in their shoes, I think we’ll be fine.”

Grant believes Hamilton’s offence is close to finding its way out of some early season struggles.

“I just think we have to work out a couple kinks, get that game time experience and get rolling,” the 27-year-old pass catcher said.

“When you come into [training] camp defences seem to fly around and you’ve seen it across the league defences are being very successful right now because it takes time to jell as an offence. It’s one of those things that once our offence develops and once it starts clicking it’s going to be tough to stop.”

What better time for the Ticats offence to begin showing its claws then in a return to their hometown lair.