Jerry Glanville seems to be getting the hang of this Canadian football thing.
The long-time NFL head coach is in his first season as the Hamilton Tiger-Cats defensive co-ordinator. And through 11 games Glanville has adjusted nicely to the longer, wider field, extra man and unlimited motion.
Hamilton (6-5) heads into its home game Saturday afternoon against the Calgary Stampeders (9-2) with the CFL’s stingiest pass defence and the league’s second-ranked unit in fewest offensive points allowed (21.2 per game) and net yards allowed (31.4.7 yards per game).
Veteran cornerback Delvin Breaux, back in Hamilton after three seasons with the NFL’s New Orleans Saints, said one key to Glanville’s success has been keeping things simple.
“He’s just basic, man,” Breaux told the Ticats’ website. “That’s what I love about him.
“He sticks to what he does and we just go out there and play fast. It’s simple for him because he knows what he wants to do … He puts a certain game-plan in for each week and each team and I think he’s handled it well.”
Saturday’s game is an important one for Hamilton, which has won three straight to grab a share of first in the East Division with the Ottawa Redblacks. But the last two have come against the idle Toronto Argonauts (3-8) and the Ticats are 3-4 this season versus the West Division, one of those losses being a 28-14 decision in Calgary on June 16.
“This is a big test for us as an offence as well to keep rolling and keep putting up points,” said veteran centre Mike Filer. “We’re not treating it any differently.
“We’re treating it as the next game and next opportunity for us to correct our mistakes and get better as a team.”
Hamilton’s offence was rolling in the club’s Labour Day sweep of Toronto. The unit scored 78 points in the two games and quarterback Jeremiah Masoli completed 44 of 60 passes for 692 yards with seven TDs. He has thrown for 300 or more yards in a game a club record-tying nine times this season.
Receiver Brandon Banks was big for the Ticats, registering a combined 15 catches for 288 yards and four touchdowns. Banks has recorded eight 100-yard games this season, four short of the league record.
Hamilton’s offence is first in the CFL in net yards (429.8 per game) and second overall in passing (329.8 yards per game).
But Calgary’s offence wasn’t exactly chopped liver in the club’s last game, rolling up 591 yards in a 48-42 shootout loss to the Edmonton Eskimos. Quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell completed 25 of 46 passes for 491 yards and four TDs and nearly had a fifth as Juwan Brescacin had a late Hail Mary pass in his hands but couldn’t come down with the ball for the game-winning TD.
Calgary defensive back Emmanuel Davis, a former Ticat, said the Stampeders are anxious to get back on the winning track.
“In my eyes, it was a tough loss for the team,” he said. “But we’ve got a lot of veteran guys in the locker-room who were ready for the next week, ready to play and ready to get that taste out of our mouth.
“Once we went to practice we watched the film, corrected the mistakes and got back to work. We look at Hamilton as another opportunity to get better.”
Running back Roman Morris, who rushed for 95 yards on seven carries against Edmonton and added five catches for 62 yards and two TDs, said Calgary must start fast against Hamilton.
“That’s something we haven’t done in the last two, three weeks,” he said. “We have to come out and hit them in the mouth before they hit us in the mouth.”
With a victory, Calgary would reach double-digit wins for the 11th straight season.
At halftime, the Hall of Fame class of 2018 — Paul Brule, Frank Cosentino, Scott Flory, the late Tom Hugo, Hank Ilesic, Brent Johnson and Barron Miles — will be honoured.
CALGARY STAMPEDERS (9-2) at HAMILTON TIGER-CATS (6-5)
Saturday, Tim Hortons Field
KEY MATCHUP: Stampeders QB Bo Levi Mitchell vs. Ticats QB Jeremiah Masoli. Mitchell threw for 491 yards and four TDs in Calgary’s 48-42 loss to Edmonton last week but also had three interceptions. Masoli has recorded a club record-tying nine 300-yard passing games this season and had seven TD strikes in Hamilton’s Labour Day sweep of the Toronto Argonauts.
THE BIG NUMBERS: 3 — Number of games Hamilton has won in a row; and 5-0 — Calgary’s record versus East Division teams this year.
WHO’S HOT: Hamilton receiver Brandon Banks has registered consecutive 100-yard games and a CFL-high eight this season. In the 21 games since June Jones took over as head coach, Banks has 128 catches for 1,992 yards and 14 TDs.
WHO’S NOT: Calgary on the road. The Stampeders have lost their last two games away from McMahon Stadium: a 40-27 decision to Saskatchewan on Aug. 19 and last weekend’s 48-42 contest in Edmonton. Their last road victory was a 34-22 verdict in Regina on July 28.
Dan Ralph, The Canadian Press