The Tiger-Cats are focusing on getting better each week, and they are treating each game as a test to show their improvement. In a post-practice interview this week by Alden Darby Jr. mentioned “we are focusing on making our plays, and keeping our eyes in the right spot.” This stands out as having a literal meaning about how the Tiger-Cats need to take care of business, especially in the 4th quarter, but also has a great more metaphorical meaning for the Tiger-Cats as a team.
A team does not improve by focusing on the past, the opponent you play against changes every week and cannot be what controls the way you prepare, and ultimately the team that controls the Tiger-Cats ability to be successful is themselves. With this in mind, let’s take a look at 5 statistical areas that can help the Tiger-Cats upset the Blue Bombers at IG Field this Friday night with our 5 Growling Questions.
Growling Question #1
Can the Tiger-Cats defense pressure Blue Bombers QB Zach Collaros by producing 3 or more sacks?
Coming into Week 3 they have only produced 1 quarterback sack and that was by safety Tunde Adeleke in Week 2 vs. the Stampeders. The Blue Bombers come into the game with one of the best offensive lines in the CFL, but they will most likely be missing their center Michael Couture due to an injury from last week. Zach Collaros has been one of the best quarterbacks in the CFL since he joined the Blue Bombers and has a 17-2 record as the starting quarterback for Winnipeg.
Collaros is also very efficient with a quarterback rating of 107.6, and he also has a very good group of receivers led by Greg Ellingson. The Tiger-Cats defense needs to find ways to disrupt Collaros and put him in positions to make poor decisions. After practice on Wednesday, Coach Steinauer said “sacks are a big play, minus yards from a statistical standpoint, sacks are a piece, but the bigger piece is winning.” In this situation, quarterback sacks would give the Tiger-Cats a much better chance of winning this game.
Growling Question #2
Will the Tiger-Cats defensive front 7 be able to hold the Blue Bombers run game to less than 4 yards/carry?
This is an area that the Tiger-Cats should be able to win in vs Winnipeg. Coming into the game the Blue Bombers’ offence has only averaged 3.7 yards/carry. With the absence of starting center Michael Couture, and with defensive tackle Dylan Wynn returning to the Tiger-Cats starting lineup, Hamilton should have a chance to limit the production of Blue Bombers running backs Brady Oliveira and Johnny Augustine. If the Tiger-Cats can limit the Winnipeg running game then they may be able to force the Blue Bombers to become more one-dimensional on offence which would be a big advantage for Hamilton.
Growling Question #3
Can the Tiger-Cats offensive line protect Dane Evans by allowing less than 3 quarterback sacks?
In Week 2 the Tiger-Cats were able to accomplish this goal. But this week they are missing left guard Brandon Revenberg, and Kay Okafor will be starting at left guard. The rest of the offensive line from last week is still intact with left tackle Tyrone Riley, center Jesse Gibbon, right guard Travis Vornkahl, and right tackle Chris Van Zeyl. Last week’s offensive line adjustments along with a focus on using more quick passes allowed QB Dane Evans to have a much better game than in Week 1. But the Bomber’s defensive line is regarded as one of the best in the CFL, so it will be critically important that this version 3.0 of the Tiger-Cats offensive line protects their quarterback well.
Growling Question #4
Can the Tiger-Cats offence score on 100% of their trips to the red zone?
The most common statement made all week by the Tiger-Cats is ‘we have to finish’. This applies to the offence in the red zone. Every time Hamilton gets a scoring opportunity they need to make they score points. Now it would be ideal to score touchdowns every time they are in the red zone, but most likely that will not be realistic. So they need to make sure that every possession that gets them into the red zone equates to field goals or touchdowns. What helps the defense finish better in the 4th quarter? The offense scoring more points and making good field position pay off with points.
Growling Question #5
Will the Tiger-Cats be able to win the +/- turnover ratio?
This has been a recurring question each week for 2 reasons. First, winning the turnover battle gives a pathway to a much better statistical chance of winning the game. Second, the Tiger-Cats offence has been a turnover machine in weeks 1 and 2. Turnovers give teams a big boost in energy, can result in a better field position, and takes a scoring opportunity away from their opponent. If the Tiger-Cats can win the turnover ratio then they have a very good chance to upset Winnipeg.
The Tiger-Cats have shown significant improvement in the first 2 weeks of this season. The Tiger-Cats have been hearing about finishing since the 2021 Gray Cup championship game when they gave up a lead to the Blue Bombers and lost the championship game to Winnipeg for the second consecutive time. If the Tiger-Cats want to focus on the future, then they have to be able to show growth. We have shown a statistical pathway that would allow them to beat Winnipeg this Friday night. Can the Tiger-Cats answer these 5 Growling Questions on the field?
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