1. Run defence
The Tiger-Cats boasted the CFL’s best run defence this year, giving up a paltry 77 yards per game. So the Grey Cup will feature the unstoppable force (Calgary running back Jon Cornish) against the immovable object (Hamilton’s front seven), and it should be quite the battle. The Ticats allowed an average of 4.6 yards per carry, which means opposing running backs barely got past their defensive line. If you want to drop a name or two to your buddy in Banff, mention Tabbies defensive tackle Ted Laurent or linebacker Simoni Lawrence as big reasons for Hamilton’s dominance in this department.
2. Brandon Banks
The diminutive kick returner was part magician, part contortionist in last week’s semifinal win over the Alouettes, returning two punts for touchdowns and having a third called back. The former Washington Redskins returner has a knack for coming up big in big games, and he can also be dangerous in the passing game. And if your aunt from Airdrie fires back by saying the Stampeders haven’t allowed a return touchdown this year, say this: “Neither had the Alouettes.?
3. Kicking game
Special teams are one-third of the game, and the Ticats have a definite edge in the field goal department. Hamilton kicker Justin Medlock connected on 88% of his kicks this season, while Calgary’s Rene Paredes struggled to a 73.3% success rate. And while Calgary’s Rob Maver has a three-yard edge on Medlock in the punting department, Medlock has a three-yard advantage on Paredes when it comes to kickoffs. Remind your client in Canmore that Paredes couldn’t even make half of his kicks from outside 40 yards this year and say, “Good luck with that 42-yarder to win on the final play of the game!?
If there’s one advantage the Ticats have over the Stampeders, it’s team speed. This is a big reason why the Ticats had 2,245 YAC, or yards after the catch, this season. Their little speedsters like Banks, Terrell Sinkfield and even Mossis Madu have shown the ability to make the catch and then make even bigger things happen. Calgary was way back in the pack with only 1,678 YAC in 2014. Tell your mom in Medicine Hat that she better look out for the hitch screen and the swing pass.
5. Passing game
Put a scare into your favourite Stamps fan with this statistic: The CFL is a passing league, and the Ticats had way more passing yards per game than the Stampeders. Sure, Calgary had Cornish running wild for it, but he played only half the season. Plus, if Hamilton can shut down Cornish on Sunday, then Calgary quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell is going to have to go to the air, where he and Stamps managed just 234 yards per game compared to 270 for Zach Collaros and the Tiger-Cats. Take that, all you Ticats doubters from Drumheller.