HAMILTON — The second of four games in five weeks between the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and Toronto Argonauts is set to take place at Tim Hortons Field on Friday night.
In the Week 9 meeting between the two rivals, it was the Argos who came away with a 34-20 victory on home field. Entering Week 10 the Ticats will now try to even the series with the always roaring Ticats home crowd on their side.
Quarterback Dane Evans completed 29 passes for 303 yards and a touchdown in Week 9, but won’t be making the start on Friday as he has been ruled out with a shoulder injury.
Hamilton’s Matthew Shiltz will be relied upon to take over for Evans and lead his team from under center on Friday. Shiltz has completed 16 passes for 125 yards in the backup role this season, but has also helped out the offence in a variety of ways this season. Shiltz has 110 rush yards and a touchdown on 22 attempts, with a long of 56 yards.
Despite attempting only 24 passes through nine week of the 2022 season, Shiltz does have valuable CFL experience. He spent his first four years in the CFL with the Montreal Alouettes before joining the Ticats. Appearing in 58 career games Shiltz has completed 161 passing attempts for 1991 yards and eight touchdowns.
In Friday’s matchup, the first year Hamilton pivot will rely heavily on receivers Steven Dunbar Jr. And Kiondre Smith, as well as running back Don Jackson, who all had at least 30 receiving yards a week ago.
Winnipeg will also need to be aware of receiver Tim White as a downfield threat for Shiltz. Despite having only 6 targets for 21 yards over the last two weeks, White is second among Hamilton receivers with 58 targets and his two receiving touchdowns are the second most. Having multiple playmakers becomes even more important after Bralon Addison left the Week 9 matchup with and Achilles injury.
Losing Addison and Evans is a significant blow to the Ticats offence. They’ve passed for the second most yards per game (294.3), a high bar for Shiltz to meet. He’ll try to do so against an Argonauts team that allows an average 277.9 yards in the air.
Head coach Orlondo Steinauer is hoping to see better execution in the red zone from his team’s offensive unit this week.
“You have to score touchdowns when you have those opportunities,” Steinauer told Ticats.ca. “It’s something that’s addressed, we work down there all the time. We have to make plays, that’s the bottom line. It’s not any bigger than that.”
To go along with his 67 receiving yards a week ago, Jackson also rushed for 47 yards on 10 carries. His ability to be productive from multiple positions within the Ticats offensive scheming will go a long way in helping to ease the sting of the losses of Addison and Evans.
Leading 14-6 at the half in their first meeting, the Tabbies defence seemed to be in control of the Argos offence, forcing multiple two and outs in the game’s opening half.
Unfortunately for the Ticats they couldn’t sustain the momentum they had begun to build in the opening half. Surrendering 28 points in the second half to the Boatmen as they came away with the Week 9 win.
Hamilton’s defence has been strong against the pass, holding opponents to a second-best 257 yards per game. When it comes to stopping the run, they rank fourth with an average of 86.3 yards.
They failed to intercept a pass last week but found a way to sack Argos quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson three times. Those sacks came from defensive tackles Dylan Wynn and Ted Laurent, and defensive back Kameron Kelly.
It was the Argos defence that led the charge to victory. Defensive back Chris Edward’s pick-six and defensive lineman Benoit Marion’s blocked punt turned touchdown provided a much needed jump for the Boatmen. Finding offence through their defence will be a theme to keep an eye on entering the meeting this week.
Argos head coach Ryan Dinwiddie knows it’s an important stretch of games for his team, with three more remaining against the Ticats.
“It’s a big month,” Dinwiddie told Argonauts.com. “We have to get it done again. We can’t just feel like were going to walk into their stadium and get it done. It’s a tough place to play and the fans are going to be rowdy like they always are. It’s going to be a great environment.”
Bethel-Thompson will look to build on a performance that saw him throw for 230 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Having now seen the Ticats defence should help the Toronto pivot with reading the defensive coverage and exploiting openings through game planning.
Toronto receiver Cam Phillips caught his team’s lone touchdown pass and has emerged as one of the primary targets for Bethel-Thompson. In addition to Phillips the receiving room of Brandon Banks, Markeith Ambles, DaVaris Daniels and Kurleigh Gittens Jr. should helping in providing options to attack the Hamilton secondary.
In speaking with team media, Phillips said he feels like he’s starting to settle in and is looking forward to the coming weeks.
“The quarterback and the other receivers make it easy for me, believing in me,” Phillips told argonuats.com. “Things are starting to slow down for me. I’m trying to catch my stride so I can do my job and help my team.”
Andrew Harris will once again handle the rushing responsibilities for the Argonauts ground game. He’ll go head on with a strong Ticats run defence that held him to 47 yards in Week 9.
The Ticats need a win to keep the Argos within striking distance, while Toronto plans on pulling away from the East Division pack with a victory.
Kickoff from Hamilton is set for 7:30p.m. ET and the game can be seen on TSN, RDS, ESPN+ and can be followed along on CFL.ca’s Game Tracker.
– With files from Argonauts.ca and Ticats.ca.