In last Friday's pre-season debut at the Rogers Centre, the Tiger-Cats clearly showed some things on offence and defence that collectively contributed significantly in their 31-3 win. Hamilton employed its starting offence at the outset, while Toronto didn't put in its projected starting unit until one play before the end of the first quarter. And Hamilton's defence played with an intensity and specific purpose, blitzing often.
That totally rattled Toronto's quarterback, Spergon Wynn, who is in his first year with the team and just learning the offence, along with many of the players who began the game. A touchdown on a series after a Wynn interception contributed to the opening points, while sloppy tackling on defence contributed to the second major.
But what became apparent throughout the game is that Hamilton wanted to play a tough, physical and meaningful game to perhaps make a statement that it is not the pushover of a year ago in games against Toronto.
It will be interesting then to see what happens tonight at Ivor Wynne when Part Two of this bizarre opening three-game series commences at 7 p.m. at Ivor Wynne Stadium.
"We're going to do a little bit more in a couple areas," Toronto offensive co-ordinator Kent Austin said yesterday. "I'm not going to let them get our stuff on (game) film to prepare for the first week. We play them three times in a row. That's stupid (to show what you're going to do).
"What we do in the pre-season will only be part of what we do in the first game. The other part of it we're not going to show. I don't care what the score is. We're playing for the regular season, not the pre-season."
Austin said he was not surprised Hamilton showed some things in the first game rather than play what is often called vanilla, meaning a basic package.
"We talked about it at length. I was just surprised they did it as much as they did it. You put on a pre-season game out in Halifax (last year) and the third play of the game they blitzed us, so it's actually good for us. It helps our guys get reps live and not just the quarterback, but our guys up front and our backs and protection and blocking the right guy and sorting it all out. All that helps us. We were very happy they did that."