September 2, 2014

Cauz: Ticats show their teeth in Labour Day win

Ahh Labour Day, a time to fret about the end of a lousy summer.

It’s that time of year where you shed tears about your children going to school, only to pop a bottle of champagne once they’re out of ear shot. It’s also a time to set up base camp on your couch and watch football.

This year was a bit more special for fans of the Tiger-Cats and Argonauts rivalry, who saw the return of the Labour Day Classic. Last season felt like the day that Labour Day died. In 2013 Hamilton was on the west coast losing 29-26 to the BC Lions while Toronto played on a Tuesday in a 20-9 loss to Montreal.

As an Argonaut fan, last year did not feel like Labour Day. No offence to Calgary and Edmonton who, represented the league with class in 2013, but it just didn’t feel right not having the battle of the QEW. 

So, despite the cruel twist of fate that on Monday the weather was gorgeous in Southern Ontario I was happy to be at home watching the Tiger-Cats and Argonauts do battle.

Zach Attack: Ticats QB Zach Collaros was solid in his return to action, completing 27 of 38 passes for 317 yards and a touchdown.

After suffering from a concussion in Week 2, you had to be impressed with the performance of Zach Collaros. His numbers at the half (14-18-187-TD) were even more impressive when you consider there were a couple critical drops including that Mossis Madu one at the goal line.

Collaros showed off his accuracy, athleticism and ability to read through his progressions. There was a reason why Hamilton elected to ship off future Hall of Famer Henry Burris during the off-season, and Collaros showed why Austin had so much faith in him.

Kent will need Collaros even more after witnessing Jeremiah Masoli fumble at the goal line. Nonetheless for those of us hoping for a better second half from the East much of it starts with a resurgent Tiger-Cats being led by Collaros.

On the flip side it was shocking how well Hamilton handled Ricky Ray and the Argonauts passing game. I doubt anyone thought it would take until 9:10 of the fourth quarter for Ray to finally pass the 50,000 yard mark.

Of course Ray is without his two best targets (Chad Owens & Andre Durie) and the majority of his receivers rank from “who’s that guy” to “I’ve never heard of him”.  

I was happy the pass that got him into the 50,000 club was an impressive deep ball to Jason Barnes and not some sort of cheapie three yard dump off. However that interception (quack, quack) he threw with under two minutes to go was the kind of play that probably sent that same medical staff over to see how Scott Milanovich’s blood pressure was doing.

Some other random thoughts.

– While it`s easy to rip the introduction of new uniforms I gotta say I was a big fan of the 3rd uniforms the Tiger-Cats were sporting. Looked sharp on TV.

– I’m going to have to start paying closer attention to Tiger-Cats linebacker Simoni Lawrence. Not only does he lead the team in tackles but the dude did the Miami Sharks celebration dance (See: `Any Given Sunday`) after tackling Steve Slaton for a loss of six yards.

– Swayze Waters may had the best first half I’ve ever seen from a Punter. Now to be fair I have not kept close records of `First-Half Punter Dominance Metrics` but he was the only guy keeping Toronto in the game in the first half. From long distance rouges (Chris Berman loves saying `rouge`!) to ridiculous back to back punts that he landed on the one yard line Waters put on a clinic while the rest of the Argonaut offence was asleep.

– The way the Argonauts were catching (or more accurately dropping) passes from Ricky Ray I was half convinced they were being paid off by Henry Burris to keep Ray from ever catching up to his passing numbers.

– What a play by Argonauts DL Tristan Okpalaugo to force the Masoli fumble on the goal line! Not sure what is more impressive the seven sacks Okpalaugo has collected from the defensive tackle position or Duane Ford being able to flawlessly pronounce `Okpalaugo` flawlessly. I would butcher that one every time.