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HAMILTON — Saturday marks the return of Hamilton quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell as the Tiger-Cats visit the Saskatchewan Roughriders at Mosaic Stadium.
Despite being losers of four straight, the Roughriders can take another step towards the playoffs with a win.
As for Hamilton, they secured their spot in the post-season with a victory over Calgary last week.
On the offensive side of the ball for the Ticats, Mitchell will be seeing his first game action since his injury against Ottawa back on July 28. As he gets his timing down, he’ll rely on the team’s top receiving targets.
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Tim White, Kiondre Smith and Terry Godwin should again see the bulk of the looks and for good reason. White surpassed 1,000 receiving yards a week ago, Smith has caught 43 passes and Godwin has stepped up in recent weeks.
They’ll go up against a group of defensive backs looking to put the 458 passing yards they surrendered against the BC Lions last week behind them. Knowing it’ll take a collective effort to shut down Hamilton’s pass game, they need good performances from Jayden Dalke, Amari Henderson and Nic Marshall.
With the secondary focused on the receivers, the Riders front is responsible for closing gaps against running back James Butler. The talented back had 92 yards against the Stamps and is 58 short of reaching 1,000 for the second year in a row.
As a team Saskatchewan is giving up 122.7 rushing yards per game. Defensive linemen Pete Robertson, Christian Albright, and linebacker C.J. Reavis had a sack on Vernon Adams Jr. and will attempt to cause havoc for Butler and Mitchell.
Steinauer expects a hostile crowd but wants his team to stick to what they can control heading out on the road.
“You turn on the tape and they’ve got a lot of talent on the field,” Steinauer . “It’s always tough to play there. The crowds going to be into it, that’s always a factor. At the end of the day, like I say every week, we study our opponent, we game plan for our opponent but the majority of the focus always remains on ourselves.”
Quarterback Jake Dolegala leads the Roughriders onto the field Saturday night off a 409 yard performance in a losing effort. Aside from his two interceptions, it’s an effort head coach Craig Dickenson would gladly take again in an attempt to snap the team’s losing streak
The offensive playbook isn’t short on options in the pass game after Kian Schaffer-Baker and Jarreth Sterns proved they can lead the way with 206 combined yards. Add in their top playmakers in Shawn Bane Jr., Tevin Jones and Samuel Emilus, and Dolegala could be in for another big night.
Opposing quarterbacks have completed 65.6 per cent of their passes against the Tiger-Cats defence this season but they were able to hold Calgary out of the end zone in their latest performance, a positive they’ll look to build on.
The Riders pass game needs to be on point as running back Jamal Morrow works his way back from injury. He’s totalled 680 yards so far this season.
Riders head coach Craig Dickenson says it comes down to playing the right way heading down the stretch, no matter what other teams are doing around them.
“I will say this, we want to play our best football,” Dickenson told . “Regardless of where we finish in the standings, certainly you have to get into the tournament, that’s the goal, and our job is to get into the playoffs, but we also want to get in playing well. That’s been the point of emphasis. We want to certainly go 1-0 this week but the main thing is we have to play better football so when we get into the playoffs, because we think we will, that we’re playing good football.”
Saskatchewan needs wins in the final few weeks to feel comfortable with their position in the standings.
With a playoff spot already locked down in the East Division, Hamilton turns their focus to running down Montreal for second.
Kickoff is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. ET. International and U.S. audiences can watch on CFL+ while Canadian viewers can catch the game on TSN.
– with files from Riderville.com and Ticats.ca