Turnovers, turnovers, and more turnovers are the ongoing theme for the 2022 Hamilton Tiger-Cats. Over the last 3 games, turnovers have resulted in the Tiger-Cats opponent’s defence scoring touchdowns in the 4th quarter resulting in the Tiger-Cats losing the game. After Friday’s game head coach Orlondo Steinauer was asked about the turnover situation and his response was “we got that bug right now, sometimes the defensive back makes great breaks, sometimes we make bad reads.” Quarterback Dane Evans mentioned “I can’t turn the ball over I got to get better” and “I got to control the ball to the ground.” These are key elements to winning football games at any level but especially in the CFL.
In addition to the turnover situation, the Tiger-Cats find themselves in a position in which they need to find ways to get better and win games. Orlondo Steinauer said, “we are not executing at a level that needs to happen, it’s about execution and we have to be better.” The Tiger-Cats have a bye week in Week 5 and that gives them some time to find some solutions to the problems that they have faced so far this season. Admittedly, Steinauer acknowledged “we are looking at every position to get better.” So far in 2022 the Tiger-Cats have faced two opponents every week, the team they are playing against and their inabilities to execute at a high level. To better understand what the Tiger-Cats need to do to find significant improvement and give themselves a chance to win games, we will take a look at how the Tiger-Cats performed relative to the 5 Growling Questions that the Tiger-Cats needed to answer to win this game.
Growling Question #1 result
Can the Tiger-Cats defense pressure Elks QB Nick Arbuckle by getting 4 or more quarterback sacks?
The answer is no, but the situation did chance going into the game vs. the Elks. Going into the game Edmonton decided to give Canadian quarterback Tre Ford his first start of the season. Ford brought elements of athleticism that added some elements of difficulty for the Tiger-Cats defence. The result was that the Tiger-Cats were only able to produce 1 quarterback sack. Allowing Tre Ford to complete 15 passes on 26 attempts to gain 154 yards and score 1 touchdown. Ford’s athleticism allowed him to avoid pressure and pick up critical rushing yards. Ford rushed for 61 yards on 6 rushing attempts.
Growling Question #2 result
Will the Tiger-Cats defensive front be able to hold the Elk’s running game to less than 4.0 yards/carry?
The answer is no, and the Tiger-Cats had the advantage of not having to face the Elk’s leading rusher James Wilder Jr., which was added to the 6-game injured list the day before the game in Hamilton. Even with Wilder’s absence the Tiger-Cats defense gave up 130 yards on 22 rushes for an average of 5.9 yards/carry. The running game was carried by quarterback Tre Ford with 61 yards on 6 rushes, Ante Milanovic-Litre had 34 rushing yards on 4 carries, and running back Sherman Badie had 32 yards on 6 carries. The Elks also scored a rushing touchdown with backup quarterback Kai Locksley.
Growling Question #3 result
Can the Tiger-Cats find a way to score 3 touchdowns vs. the Elks?
The answer is no, but the Tiger-Cats did find a way to score 2 touchdowns. The first touchdown was a 21-yard touchdown throw by Dane Evans to Stephen Dunbar Jr. in the 1st quarter. And the Tiger-Cats second touchdown was a result of a 72-yard kick-off return by Lawrence Woods. In the 2nd half, the Tiger-Cats needed to find a way to score 1 more touchdown. But they were not able to execute at a level that allowed them to score that touchdown. Which ended up being the difference between winning and losing.
Growling Question #4 result
Can the Tiger-Cats offensive line protect quarterback Dane Evans by giving up less than 3 quarterback sacks?
The answer is once again no, and this was an area that the Tiger-Cats showed significant regression. In Weeks 2 and 3 the Tiger-Cats offensive line only allowed 2 quarterback sacks, 1 each week, but this week they allowed the Elks to sack their quarterback 3 times. Each week the Tiger-Cats offensive line has changed, and it creates chemistry issues each time personnel is changed along the offensive line. Quarterback Dane Evans is struggling with turnovers, and it would most likely improve the situation if the offensive could stabilize and provide more consistent protection.
Growling Question #5 result
Can the Tiger-Cats win the +/- turnover battle?
The answer is no, and this week the Tiger-Cats lost the turnover battle with a -2 ratio. Interceptions and fumbles have been crushing Hamilton’s chances of winning games so far this season. And they have a streak of 3 straight games in which they have allowed their opponent’s defense to score game-winning touchdowns in the 4th quarter. If the Tiger-Cats want to have a chance to win games and have an opportunity to make the playoffs, they will need to quickly find a solution to this turnover problem. It would also help the situation if the defense could produce some turnovers and assist the offence in scoring points.
After 4 weeks of football in the 2022 regular season, it is clear that the Tiger-Cats are not playing at a very high level. Linebacker Simoni Lawrence said, “we are not playing good enough team football to finish games.” The Tiger-Cats have not faced any team from the East Division yet, and so far the East is much weaker than the West Division. During the bye week, the Tiger-Cats need to find immediate ways to get better and give themselves a chance to win. The Tiger-Cat’s next opportunity to get their first win of 2022 will be on Saturday, July 16th when they host the Ottawa Redblacks.
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