CFL Preview - Hamilton (2-4) at Winnipeg (1-5)
From The Sports Network
By Gregg Xenakes, CFL Editor
DATE & TIME: Friday, August 16, 8:00 p.m. (et).
GAME NOTES: Losing football has become unacceptable in Winnipeg, so much so
that the Blue Bombers are taking the field on Friday night at home against the
Hamilton Tiger-Cats after making a series of changes off the field.
Last week the Bombers, who are all alone in last place in the Eastern Division
standings with just a single win in six opportunities, fired general manager
Joe Mack and also announced that Garth Buchko will no longer serve as CEO and
will be replaced by Wade Miller. Unfortunately, as is often the case with
administration taking too much of the blame for poor performances, the changes
were made in hopes of shaking up a crumbling club.
Winnipeg's lone win on the campaign came during the second week against
Montreal on the road, 19-11. Initially the victory was thought to be something
the squad could build on, but now that the Alouettes are a disappointing 2-4
after six games, the victory holds less weight.
Since that favorable decision on July 4, the Bombers have dropped four
straight outings, the latest coming on August 5 by a score of 27-20 at British
Columbia. Winnipeg trailed by just a single point at the break, 17-16, but
came out in the second half and scored just one and three points in the third
and fourth quarters, respectively.
Justin Goltz got the start at quarterback for the Bombers, but he converted
13-of-28 passing for just 112 yards, was picked off once and sacked two times
in the setback. Goltz did score a major on the ground in the first half
however, as did Chad Simpson, who finished with 83 rushing yards on 19
In an effort to kick the Winnipeg offense into gear, head coach Tim Burke
announced the appointment of Marcel Bellefeuille to the team's offensive
coaching staff on Monday. The timing of the move is somewhat ironic, given
that Bellefeuille's last job on the sidelines in the CFL was as the head coach
for Hamilton between 2009-11.
One of the first orders of business for Burke and Bellefeuille was to announce
that they had decided on yet another starting quarterback, installing Max Hall
under center. Hall, a product of BYU and a one-time member of the Arizona
Cardinals in the NFL, has yet to attempt a pass this season for the Blue
As for the Tiger-Cats, the weakest team in the league in terms of scoring
defense (31.2 ppg) and second-to-last in offense (21.5 ppg), they've got just
two wins to their credit this season. However, a 2-4 start to the 2013
campaign is good enough for a tie for second place in the division standings
The most recent of those triumphs came during Week 6 action against Edmonton
on the road in a narrow 30-29 final. The Cats led by double digits in the
fourth quarter of the meeting but almost let it slip away in the final
seconds. Luckily a 45-yard field goal attempt by Grant Shaw missed the mark.
Henry Burris converted all but six of his 26 pass attempts against the
Eskimos, compiling 293 yards and two touchdowns, while also tossing an
interception and being sacked three times. Greg Ellingson made just three
catches in the meeting, but two of those went for majors, giving the wideout
three TDs in the last two games.
Forcing Edmonton to use a total of three quarterbacks, the Ticats seemed to
have the contest well in hand, but 12 penalties for 138 yards kept the other
team in it.
Hamilton is now the third-most penalized team in the league with 63
infractions, yet the yardage lost (554) is four more than any other squad
after six games.
Also working against the Tiger-Cats is a secondary which has allowed the most
passing touchdowns on the season with 15, while the players closest to the
line of scrimmage have also struggled, logging only 11 sacks which is tied for
the fewest in the league. By comparison, Winnipeg is first in sacks with 24.
Another major issue for the Cats is that they've had to endure constant
pressure in the backfield on offense, resulting in a league-high 29 sacks
allowed. Even though Burris has taken the brunt of that, he still leads the
CFL with 1,803 passing yards. As a team, Hamilton is first in the league in
passing yards (1,842), while the Bombers are second from the bottom in that
category with just 1,321 yards.
These two teams clashed during Week 3 action, with Hamilton taking a 25-20
home decision. In that contest, Burris survived seven sacks as he threw
for 362 yards and two touchdowns for the victory, while Buck Pierce connected
on just 15-of-26 passing for 186 yards and was taken down behind the line of
scrimmage six times.
In addition to giving up 438 yards of total offense to the Ticats, Winnipeg
torpedoed itself by committing a ridiculous 19 penalties for a loss of 161
Despite the win, their second in a row over Winnipeg, the Cats still trail in
the all-time series by a count of 59-47, taking into consideration only
regular-season meetings since 1961.
Neither one of these teams is living up to expectations, but it is clear that
Winnipeg is at least trying to shake things up with changes in the front
office and on the sidelines. Putting Hall in the cross hairs might not be the
best option right now, but it really is a last resort for Winnipeg.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Hamilton 28, Winnipeg 24
08/14 10:34:55 ET
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