June 16, 2023

Ferguson: Ticats, Argos provide a big Week 2 stage

Jonathan Kozub/CFL.ca

It’s no secret that this season in Hamilton is packed with expectations. Of course, similar to potential, all that term means is you haven’t done anything yet.

In Week 1 one the Tiger-Cats had an opportunity to do something; something big. They had a chance to go into Winnipeg and set the tone for their season with a victory. Even a convincing loss would have meant the world to Black and Gold fans who are champing at the bit to throw themselves into a full on frenzy while hosting the Grey Cup again this season.

Of course at the front of this discussion is Bo Levi Mitchell. The November-acquired pivot with CFL legend status regardless of his final few chapters took to the field in Winnipeg and very much looked like a passer attempting to throw to new colours for the first time in a decade.

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Mitchell stuck to his deep ball tendencies and hammered away at the Bombers’ stout defence, attempting to find the crack in their armour. With his accuracy not where the veteran quarterback wanted it, Hamilton missed chance after chance, after chance, to send a lightning bolt through their sideline offensively.

Then something funny happened. Blink, and you might have missed how what looked like a total blowout at 24-3 was suddenly a one-score game late. How? Hamilton played complimentary football and worked its way back into the game. Special teams plays followed by defensive stops and increasingly better offensive execution as the game wore on all played their part.

In a game which felt over before it began thanks to Bombers QB Zach Collaros’ three first quarter passing touchdowns, the Tiger-Cats might have unintentionally showed you a preview of their 2023 efforts to be crowned champions at home in November.

When Mitchell was acquired, the whole narrative was that he has a championship aura that would permeate throughout the Tim Hortons Field home locker room and lift all areas of the team, as everyone knows they have a starting quarterback capable of making any throw at any time.

With that came the notion that Mitchell would find a different level to his game and that the revenge tour would be sweet and swift with multiple big passing days as the standard. If it happens moving forward, disregard every word in this article, but I believe the real secret to Hamilton’s plan moving forward is the overall team depth and talent at multiple positions, not just the one guy who stands in shotgun to receive the snap.

All of this will take time to decipher, but at 0-1 and after an opening quarter like what we saw in Winnipeg, we all know urgency is heightened at Ticats headquarters. Add in a Week 2 matchup against their arch-rival Argos and there is a storm brewing along the QEW headed into Sunday.

Toronto will start Chad Kelly, the much hyped nephew of Buffalo Bills’ icon Jim Kelly. Chad has the potential to blow the doors off the CFL according to those who see his game on the regular at Double Blue practice.

Do you think Bo Levi Mitchell, the man who has been the standard bearer for Canadian football quarterback play is going to stand idly by and watch a newcomer dominate the same grass he walks on, especially after Week 1? I don’t think so either. The Argonauts haven’t laid down any film yet due to their Week 1 bye and this is just the first of several matchups this season of course led by the OK Tire Labour Day Weekend, but Hamilton-Toronto has a shiny new ring to it.

Argos versus Tiger-Cats is now Kelly vs. Mitchell. For Mitchell and Hamilton, going into Toronto and getting a win would erase all memory of Week 1 in Manitoba, but a loss won’t help the outside perception of this club heading into their home opener June 23 against Montreal.

It’s easy to say this each time these two clubs meet, but there really is so much at stake for just a Week 2 game. Perhaps the complimentary football that got Hamilton back into the game last Friday will be the difference as Bo Levi Mitchell continues to feel out his role in new colours.

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