HAMILTON — The Toronto Argonauts and Hamilton Tiger-Cats square off for the second time this season on Friday night at Tim Hortons Field.
Both teams come into the game playing well, with the Argonauts sporting a four-game winning streak to open the campaign, as they remain the league’s only undefeated team, and the Tiger-Cats being winners of two straight.
The last time the two met, it was the Argos who walked away with a 32-14 victory in Week 2.
Being able to impact the game through the air and on the ground will put a Ticats defence to the test that allowed 473 net yards in their most recent win over Edmonton. Against a secondary that is near the bottom of the league in pass yards allowed and with only five interceptions, Chad Kelly will once again utilize his plethora of receivers to move down the field.
In their win over Montreal last week, Kelly connected with eight different receivers, led by DaVaris Daniels‘ 91 yards. Damonte Coxie continues to develop into a star and David Ungerer III is proving to be a reliable target.
If one of the many options isn’t there in the air, Kelly, AJ Ouellette and Andrew Harris are all capable of gaining yardage on the ground.
Head coach Ryan Dinwiddie is expecting to see some urgency from the Ticats given their slow start and subsequent bounce back the past two games that has left them four points behind the Argos.
“I think they’re a resilient group,” Dinwiddie told reporters. “They started slow but won the last two, they’re a confident group. We’re coming into their building and the fans will be excited about it and I’m sure they will be. We are, as well. It’s going to be a good game.”
Ticats defensive linemen Casey Sayles and Ted Laurent recorded sacks against the Elks and will need to apply significant pressure to limit the run game and force Kelly into quick decisions if the defence hopes to keep points off the board.
For the Ticats, it’s a different look on offence that the Argos defence will see compared to their Week 2 matchup.
Powell, who threw for for 47 yards and a touchdown in relief last week, has leaned on both Shiltz and Mitchell throughout the season to get him ready.
“I’m fortunate to have a quarterback room that I think is special with Bo and Matt who I’ve been able to learn from,” Powell told ticats.ca. “I’ve been ready. I’m grateful for the opportunity. I’m sure I’ll have some emotions before the game. I’m ready to play and I’m excited. I’ve been in a lot of locker rooms and this is one of the tightest ones I’ve had.”
Along with top playmakers in D’haquille Williams and Tim White, Tyreik McAllister and Richie Sindani have proven effective and will give Powell options. McAllister has totalled 99 yards over the past two games and was a target the Argos didn’t have to worry about the first time around.
Facing the little known Powell, defensive backs Qwan’tez Stiggers and DaShaun Amos will lead the secondary in shutting down his receivers.
The play of running back James Butler appears to be returning to his high expectations.
With two quarterbacks now out, the key to the offence very well could rest on the shoulders of Butler, something Steinauer likely feels good about after his running back rushed for 127 yards against the Elks.
The true test comes this week, however, as the Argos are tops in the league against the run and held Montreal to 86 yards on the ground a week ago.
Defensive linemen Dewayne Hendrix and Shawn Oakman both had a sack in that game and are tasked with keeping Butler in check.
While Butler is the key to the offence, the key to a victory will be the Ticats defence and their ability to shutdown the multi-faceted attack of the Argos.
There’s nothing quite like the QEW rivalry on a Friday night with both teams looking to extend their winning ways.
Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. International and U.S. audiences on can watch on CFL+ while Canadian viewers can watch on TSN.
– With files from Ticats. and Argonauts.ca