CFL Preview - Ottawa (1-2) at Hamilton (0-3)
From The Sports Network
By Gregg Xenakes, CFL Editor
DATE & TIME: Saturday, July 26, 7 p.m. (ET).
GAME NOTES: Thanks to their very first win in 2014, the Ottawa RedBlacks find
themselves atop the East Division standings, as they enter Week 5 action
against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats at McMaster University's Ron Joyce Stadium on
After losing the first two games on the schedule to Winnipeg and Edmonton, the
newest members to the CFL took the field at home versus Toronto last week and
squeezed out an 18-17 victory. While that may not sound all that significant,
with a mark of 1-2 right now the RedBlacks actually find themselves leading
the pack in the division, mostly due to the fact that every other squad in the
East (Montreal, Toronto and Hamilton) already has three defeats.
Much of the credit for the Ottawa win goes to kicker Brett Maher who knocked
through a clutch 27-yard field goal in the final minute to give the team the
victory in its home debut. Not only did Maher connect on the most crucial of
kicks in the meeting with Toronto, he actually accounted for all 18 points for
Ottawa with successful field goals from 48, 32, 30, 26 and 22 yards out.
Needless to say, Maher was an easy choice for the CFL Special Teams Player of
Maher, who now has nine field goals on the campaign, picked up the slack for
an Ottawa offense that struggled to find a rhythm. Quarterback Henry Burris
managed to convert 17-of-30 passes for 216 yards, but was sacked five times.
The top target for Burris was Kierrie Johnson who registered six receptions
and 91 yards, both of which were game highs. Running back Chevon Walker tried
to give the group a boost on the ground, but managed just 60 yards on 12
Walker, who played with Hamilton the last two seasons, has already eclipsed
his entire rushing total from a year ago when he posted 193 yards in limited
Defensively, the RedBlacks limited Toronto to a respectable 371 yards, but it
also didn't hurt that the Argos crippled themselves time and time again with
12 penalties that amounted to 132 yards of lost field position.
The RedBlacks are now in the middle of the pack when it comes to points
allowed, permitting 26.7 ppg, while Hamilton is just in front of them at 23.0
As for the Tiger-Cats, losers of the 2013 Grey Cup versus Saskatchewan
(45-23), they are still waiting to work their way into the win column here in
2014. The campaign began with another loss to the Roughriders, 31-10, followed
by a 28-24 setback to Edmonton and a narrow 10-7 defeat at the hands of the
Calgary Stampeders last week on the road.
Last in the league in scoring at just 13.7 ppg, Hamilton is also all alone at
the bottom of the division standings, although even a single game could turn
the tide for the 'Cats at this early juncture.
Kicker Justin Medlock accounted for all seven of his team's points versus the
Stamps, thanks to a pair of field goals and a 91-yard single, but even with a
standout performance by the Hamilton defense, it still wasn't enough to get
the visitors into the win column for the first time this season.
With starting quarterback Zach Collaros on the sidelines due to injury, it was
up to the tandem of Jeremiah Masoli and Dan LeFevour to make something happen
and it just wasn't meant to be. Masoli converted nine of his 20 pass attempts
for 107 yards and an interception, while LeFevour missed on only two of his 11
throws as he recorded 76 yards and was sacked twice.
Hamilton struggled to produce 254 yards of offense and didn't do itself any
favors with 12 penalties for a loss of 90 yards, but Calgary was just as
sloppy while being flagged a dozen times as well for 120 yards.
The quarterback play for the Ticats has been dismal through the first three
games, even worse than that of Ottawa which is tied for last in the league in
passing scores with just two on 89 pass attempts. Hamilton has by far the
lowest efficiency rating at the position (57.8 percent), due to the fact that
it too has just two aerial majors, coupled with five interceptions on 54.5
Also working against Hamilton in the early going is an excessive number of
turnovers, 12 to be exact. Compare that to the six takeaways the program has
through three games and the Ticats are easily last in the league in turnover
margin at minus-six.
Because they reside in the same division, these two squads will meet up two
more times during the regular season, although it will be close to three
months before Hamilton again hosts the RedBlacks in Week 17. Two weeks after
that Ottawa will serve as the home team.
As difficult as it is for a team to break into a league these days, at least
the RedBlacks have been competitive for nearly every minute they have been on
the field, which is more than can be said for Hamilton right now. With the
rotating door at quarterback it would not be surprising to see the 'Cats come
out on the losing end yet again this weekend.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Ottawa 27, Hamilton 21
07/23 11:44:35 ET
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