OTTAWA — The Ottawa Redblacks aren’t looking past the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, but can’t help but think about the opportunity that lies before them.
The Redblacks (4-6-1) will look to win their fourth straight and take control of the East Division with a victory over the Tiger-Cats (1-8-0) Saturday night at TD Place.
An Ottawa victory would give them a three-point cushion over the second-place Toronto Argonauts (4-7-0), who are on a bye week.
“We know where we’re at, but it doesn’t affect the way we approach anything,” said Ottawa quarterback Trevor Harris, who leads the league in passing yards (3,531). “We know we control our own destiny in terms of what we do and that’s all we control.”
The Tiger-Cats will be hungry for another victory after finally winning their first game of the season this past Monday with a 24-22 victory over the Argonauts.
It’s a feeling that the Redblacks know all too well after struggling to pick up their second win of the season until a 37-18 victory over Hamilton. That win helped them turn their season around.
Ottawa has no intentions of letting the Ticats enjoy a similar comeback.
“We’re going to want to go out and kill their spirit,” said Redblacks defensive back Jerrell Gavins. “I’m not being nice about anything and them being similar to us or anything. We’re going in with the intention of getting the victory and it doesn’t matter who we’re lining up against.”
Gavins doesn’t like to compare the Redblacks to the Tiger-Cats as he feels Ottawa was always better than its record, but just needed time to grow for all the pieces to come together.
“It was surprising for us to lose all those weeks as that wasn’t our expectation around here,” said Gavins. “I feel like we never really played bad ball, it was more that we were sloppy and once in a while we looked bad.
“We have one of the youngest teams in the CFL and now everyone is well acquainted and things seemed to have slowed down for us.”
After losing to Ottawa, the Tiger-Cats made a coaching change with Kent Austin stepping down and naming June Jones as his replacement.
Jeremiah Masoli replaced Zach Collaros at quarterback on Monday and was solid in the victory over the Argonauts going 19 of 33 for 219 yards. The Tiger-Cats are placing an emphasis on speed and Ottawa will need to keep an eye on Hamilton wide receiver Brandon Banks.
The Redblacks know they will need to keep an eye out defensively for Emanuel Davis and Richard Leonard.
“Personnel wise they’ve changed quite a bit on defence and they’ve changed their looks quite a bit in terms of what they’re doing on second-medium, second-long and second extra-long in the red zone,” said Harris.
“We need to make sure we’re prepared for those looks and we come out and execute our game plan because if we don’t, Hamilton’s a team that can really come out and bite you and get you.”
Ottawa will look for another solid outing from running back Mossis Madu, who had 14 carries for 64 yards last week against Montreal and was given the nod over William Powell.
“The coaches trust me right now and so I’m just going to go out there and keep doing what I do,” said Madu. “I just want to try and take advantage of this opportunity and do everything I can do to help us win.”
Notes: Ottawa will once again be without wide receiver Quincy McDuffie, but he’s expected to be ready next week.
Lisa Wallace, The Canadian Press