CFL Preview - Winnipeg (4-1) at Hamilton (1-3)
From The Sports Network
By Gregg Xenakes, CFL Editor
DATE & TIME: Thursday, July 31, 7 p.m. (ET).
GAME NOTES: The Hamilton Tiger-Cats are set for their second home game of the
season on Thursday night as they host the resurgent Winnipeg Blue Bombers at
McMaster University's Ron Joyce Stadium.
Hamilton, which is 0-3 on the road thus far and a mere 1-3 overall, would
normally have to be worried about losing sight of the rest of the teams in the
Eastern Division standings, but surprisingly the club is actually tied for
first place with both Montreal and expansion Ottawa heading into Week 6
Last weekend the Ticats, playing a home game in Hamilton for the first time in
637 days, snapped a three-game slide with a 33-23 triumph over the RedBlacks.
In his first career start, quarterback Dan LeFevour passed for 361 yards and
ran for another 109 for the Tiger-Cats in the triumph. The only player in NCAA
history with at least 12,000 career passing yards and 2,500 rushing yards,
LeFevour carried the ball 13 times and converted 21-of-30 passing, leading to
one touchdown and an interception.
Running back Chris Gable ran for 62 yards and also caught three passes for
another 105 yards for the Tiger-Cats. Kicker Justin Medlock converted all four
of his field-goal attempts for the hosts as they went up against former
Hamilton QB Henry Burris, holding the signal caller in-check for most of the
Clearly the performance by LeFevour, one that earned him the CFL Offensive
Player of the Week honors, was an uplifting one. On Monday the Ticats
announced fellow quarterback Zach Collaros was heading to the six-game injured
list, due to issues with his head and back, opening the door for LeFevour to
gain even more experience.
As for the Blue Bombers, a team which won a total of just three games all of
last season as it wallowed in last place with the worst record in the league,
they have four victories already, starting the campaign with wins over
Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal, before bowing to Edmonton.
Last week Winnipeg bounced back from the dismal 26-3 setback to the Eskimos in
Week 4 by dominating British Columbia at BC Place, 23-6. However, the final
score might be a bit deceiving, at least from the standpoint of how well the
Bombers offense performed.
Winnipeg generated a modest 300 yards, but just 50 of those coming on the
ground. Drew Willy managed to converted 18-of-26 passes for 250 yards and a
score, but was also intercepted once and sacked two times. Really, the game
ball should have been given to kicker Lirim Hajrullahu who did it all for his
Hajrullahu not only handled all of the punting and kickoffs for Winnipeg, who
also knocked through all five of his field-goal chances and finished with 16
points, en route to being named the CFL Special Teams Player of the Week.
Hajrullahu is now second in the league among kickers in terms of points scored
with 51, having converted all but two of his 14 field-goal attempts. Because
of the efforts of Hajrullahu, the Bombers are the top scoring team in the
league after five weeks with 28.2 ppg, even though they are sixth with only
Also giving Winnipeg a lift is Nic Grigsby, who is second in yards from
scrimmage (447) and second in rushing, turning his 67 carries for 287 yards
into three touchdowns.
Hamilton may have new life with LeFevour, but he still has a lot of work in
front of him to turn this group around for good. The Tiger-Cats are second-to-
last in scoring (18.5 ppg) and a lot of that has to do with the fact that they
are also second from the bottom in terms of turnover margin with a minus-four.
The 'Cats have not only thrown six interceptions, they've also lost possession
of six fumbles.
Winnipeg leads the regular season series by a count of 59-50, dating back to
1961. However, the most recent matchup was an easy victory for the Tiger-Cats
in November of last season, 37-7, as Hamilton has won five straight over the
While Winnipeg may have the better record at the moment, the Bombers have to
remember that they don't have much tape to study on LeFevour and have to be
ready for almost anything. For LeFevour, he must minimize the number of
times Bombers defenders can get their hits on him if he wants to bring the
Ticats out victorious.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Hamilton 27, Winnipeg 23
07/30 10:31:07 ET
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