HAMILTON –The Hamilton Tiger-Cats are set to host the Edmonton Elks on Canada Day at Tim Hortons Field.
Both teams are off to an 0-3 start and are looking to turn the corner.
Hamilton dropped their Grey Cup rematch with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers 26-12 in Week 3, while the Elks lost 30-23 to Calgary.
Ticats’ quarterback, Dane Evans threw for 237 yards but also had a pair of interceptions to bring his season total to six.
Evans has thrown four touchdowns and leads the league with 884 passing yards, so getting down the field hasn’t been the issue. However, limiting turnovers and getting into the end zone has been.
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“We need to figure out how to start executing,” Evans told ticats.ca. “I expect us to go to work. This is Hamilton, we don’t know any other way. We just need to pick it up. When we look back on this it’s going to be nothing but a memory.”
Many of Evans interceptions have come on tips, but don’t expect that to impact his confidence in attempting to get the ball into the hands of his talented receiving corps on Friday night.
“It’s been unfortunate, a string of bad luck,” said Evans. “I told Steve (Dunbar) on the sidelines that I’m not going to stop throwing to him. I think he’s got some of the best hands in the league. He’s been open and he’s going to get the ball, same with Bralon Addison.”
The Elks secondary will also need to keep tabs on wide receiver Tim White, who leads the Tabbies in receptions and yardage with 216 receiving yards on 19 catches. White also led the Ticats’ efforts against the Bombers last week with 78 receiving yards against Winnipeg.
The Ticats have rushed for a league low 132 yards through their three games, while the Elks have allowed a league worst 487 yards on the ground.
The Ticats defence is loaded with talent but has allowed an average of 308.7 passing yards against and 75.7 rushing yards per game.
Linebacker Javon Santos-Knox, defensive end Julian Howsare and defensive backs Alden Darby and Kameron Kelly all had a sack against the Bombers and will once again be called on to help lead the Hamilton defence against the Elks offensive attack.
They may be 0-3 but it hasn’t been all bad for the Elks. They’ve seen steady improvement in many facets of their game through the first three weeks. Their seven point loss to Calgary was their closest margin of defeat so far.
Head coach Chris Jones expects his team to show up and continue to compete when they travel to Tim Hortons Field this week.
“You have to show up every single time a game is scheduled,” Jones told GoElks.com. “In the CFL anything can happen so we have to keep on believing and doing the things were supposed to do. We’ve got a very good Hamilton team and we’ve got our hands full when we go out there. It’s a tough place to play.”
Arbuckle threw for 226 yards and a touchdown in the loss to the Stampeders. He connected with receiver Emmanual Arceneaux for the touchdown.
The Elks other touchdown came on a quarterback sneak from Kai Locksley. Locksley will line up as one of the Elks’ slotbacks, giving them three quarterbacks on their game day depth chart.
For Edmonton, it’s time to see what Ford can do with the majority of the snaps under centre.
In seven games as the starting quarterback with the University of Waterloo in 2021, Ford completed 139 of his 219 attempts, throwing for 1,770 yards and 12 touchdowns. The young Canadian also added 667 yards and three touchdowns on 66 rushing attempts for the Warriors.
The Ticats pass defence will have their hands full with the receiving trio of Arceneaux, Kenny Lawlar and Derel Walker, who can all produce game changing plays and will try to ease some of the pressure for Ford in his first start.
The Elks will be without dual threat, James Wilder Jr. in Friday’s game. He rushed for 45 yards and caught four passes for 34 yards a week ago.
Linebacker Deon Lacey was a dominant force against Calgary, collecting 10 defensive tackles. However, he will also be unavailable for the Elks, meaning that Jeawon Taylor, Brady Sheldon and Adam Konar will be asked to fill in for Lacey.
In the air the Elks have yet to intercept a pass but posses threats in defensive backs Jalen Collins and Treston Decoud. Both will have an opportunity to make plays on the ball against a Ticats team that leads the league in interceptions.
Taking care of the football will be a focus for both teams heading into the game and will be key to earning their first win of the season.
The Canada Day game will kickoff at 7:30 p.m. ET at Tim Horton’s Field and the game can be seen on TSN and ESPN+ and can be followed along on CFL.ca’s Game Tracker.
– With files from Ticats.ca and GoElks.com.