August 13, 2014

Ticats have a good problem in return game

Adam Gagnon

Isaac Owusu | Staff

HAMILTON — His teammates call him “Speedy” and his big-play ability draws a Hall of Fame comparison from his coach.

Watching week seven’s CFL Special Teams Player of the Week, Brandon Banks, evokes memories of legendary CFL returner Henry ‘Gizmo’ Williams for Ticats special teams coordinator Jeff Reinebold.

“They both have that personality that great returners have, where they believe on every ball that’s kicked to them that they could get a ‘house call’ [touchdown],” Reinebold said.

“It’s interesting, when he gets going during a game, he’s just like Henry. I would go to Henry and say ‘Henry, what do you want?’ and I’ve done the same thing with Speedy.

I go ‘Speedy, where do you want to take it?’ and they get a feel, and once you put in their hands I think it’s a special thing, and both of those guys have the ability to change the game” the coach added.

Banks, who serves as a receiver and return man, is the smallest Ticat in stature at 5-foot-7 and 153 pounds but has come up large in many occasions for the team. He was especially electric during last Friday night’s game against the BC Lions.

The Ticats have two punt return touchdowns in as many weeks by two different players, including a 66-yarder
by newcomer Quincy McDuffie against the Blue Bombers in Week 6.

With the team down 17-3, Banks provided a burst of excitement by collecting a punt, making a number of opponents whiff, then sprinted to the end zone for a 97-yard touchdown.

For Banks, hearing his coach make the bold comparison along with receiving the league’s weekly award represents a culmination of his off-field performance.

“I appreciate it. It means my hard work is paying off, that’s just my mentality of the game. I appreciate it,” he said.

For him, being a difference maker in the return game is a process, but it starts simple.

“Just catch them first so I can be on the field,” Banks said with a laugh.

“Just catching it and making a play for my team. I think punt return is the first play for an offence every series. I try to get a jump start for the offence and get momentum to put a long drive together, or quick drive, or whatever is needed,” he added.

Banks’ 202 combined return yards, including the touchdown, earned the team their second special teams award in as many weeks. The week prior Quincy McDuffie, who filled in for an injured Banks, won the award for his 152-yard performance, which included a 67-yard punt return.

“I’m a team player. He’ll give me pointers and I’ll give him pointers,” Banks said of his relationship with McDuffie.

He also credits much of his, and the duo’s, successes to their coach.

“He is one of the greatest special teams coaches that I have been around. He’s a player’s coach, he asks me what I like, things I like to do and things like to see. So I’m all in for that coach,” Banks said.

“It it’s about the players, it’s always about the players,” Reinebold said

“We don’t beat anybody on scheme, that’s just the way it is, its the players that make the plays and when you sit in our meeting room and talk to these guys, the things you will to see and hear from you them is guys is that they believe so much in ‘Speedy’, and they believe so much in (McDuffie) that all they need is just one block, and those guys can break the other team’s heart,” he added.