To start the 2022 season the 1-4 Tiger-Cats have been their own worst enemy. Turnovers, pass protections, and red zone scoring plagued Hamilton’s season so far. But even with these issues, the Tiger-Cats were able to steal a win against the winless Redblacks. Hamilton will have to play a much better game this week if they intend on getting a victory against Nathan Rourke and the BC Lions.
Along with their bad habits, the Tiger-Cats will have to overcome their trend of struggling on the road and playing poorly against West division teams. Can the Tiger-Cats get their second of the season with a win at BC? Let’s take a look at what Hamilton must do to make this a reality with our 5 Growling Questions this week.
Growling Question #1
Can the Tiger-Cats defense find a way to pressure Lions QB Nathan Rourke and produce four or more quarterback sacks?
This is an area that the Tiger-Cats defense has struggled with in 2022. Defensive end Julian Howsare had a big game with 3 quarterback sacks against Redblacks QB Caleb Evans during his first start of 2022. The Tiger-Cats need to find ways to apply more pressure to opposing quarterbacks and that will go a long way to getting stops and producing turnovers. This is even more important this week with Nathan Rourke coming into the game with a QB rating of 130.1. If Hamilton gives Rourke time, he can dissect the Tiger-Cats defensive secondary.
Growling Question #2
Will the Tiger-Cat’s defensive front seven be able to contain a Lion’s rushing attack led by James Butler by holding the BC running game to less the 4.0 yards/carry?
Lions running back James Butler comes into this game with an average of 4.9 yards/carry. That along with the running ability of Nathan Rourke has allowed their offence to control the tempo of most games this season. The exception was when the Lions played against the Blue Bombers which did not allow the Lions to control the game.
The Tiger-Cats defense needs to be able to find ways to limit this rushing attack, ideally using their front seven. If the Hamilton defense can make the BC offence play a 1-dimensional game their chances of success improve significantly.
Growling Question #3
Will the Tiger-Cats offensive line be able to protect Dane Evans and Matt Shiltz by allowing 2 or fewer quarterback sacks?
Pass protection and the offensive line have been an ongoing weakness of the Tiger-Cats. Last week they surrendered 5 quarterback sacks including in the 3rd quarter in which Evans was also stripped and fumbled the ball on their 1-yard line. Hamilton will not be able to have a chance to beat the better teams in the CFL unless they can protect their quarterbacks consistently.
On a positive note, the Tiger-Cats are starting the same offensive line for two weeks in a row, which is the first time that has happened so far this season. That consistency in personnel should make a positive impact, and improve the Tiger-Cat’s pass protection and running game.
Growling Question #4
Can the Tiger-Cats find a way to score 3 or more touchdowns?
Last week the Tiger-Cats were able to accomplish this goal including their final touchdown which allowed them to win the game. Looking back the Tiger-Cats had two other scoring opportunities within the Ottawa 10-yard line, and they failed to generate points on either of those possessions. When the Tiger-Cats are in the red zone they need to be scoring touchdowns.
The Tiger-Cats special teams also could generate some points with the kick and punt returner Lawrence Woods III. Woods nearly had a punt return for a touchdown in the 4th quarter last week. It would also be helpful if the Tiger-Cats defence could produce a defensive touchdown off of a turnover.
Growling Question #5
Can the Tiger-Cats protect the ball and win the +/- turnover battle?
A large percentage of games in the CFL are decided every week by teams that win or lose the turnover battle. If the Tiger-Cats can find a way to get more takeaways than turnovers then they will have a great chance to win. So far in 2022 turnovers have been their greatest downfall.
It could be argued that the Tiger-Cats would be 3-2 this season if they could eliminate their second-half turnovers. If Hamilton can protect the ball, and force the Lions to turn the ball over then the Tiger-Cats could find themselves leaving Vancouver with their second win in 2022.
For the Tiger-Cats to beat a solid team like the BC Lions, they will need to control what they control first and foremost. They will also need to play aggressively and force the BC Lions to make mistakes. If they are unable to limit their mistakes and find ways to score, this game could get away from them early.
All the Tiger-Cats need to do to upset the BC Lions is to play their best game of the season. If they can secure this win they would suddenly have a huge momentum boost when they return to playing East division opponents for their next six games.
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