No need for fancy phrases or motivational quotes ...
We know what this is ...
This is Toronto vs. Hamilton ...
Hogtown vs. Steeltown ...
Eastern Divisional Final ...
Let’s get right to it & start with the defensive side of the ball.
- Four-Four-Four Defense
- Force Frito Ray
- Frazzle Owens et. Al.
I’m sure after watching the tape of the EDSF & looking at the statistics throughout the year, Coach Milanovich & his staff will look to administer a very healthy dose of Norwood/Steele in an aggressive running attack. If they can get decent yards along the ground, between the tackles on 1st down & get into 2nd & short or 2nd & mid … The Argos will rack up the yards & points & control time of possession and quite literally run the TiCats out of Rogers Centre.
The 1st Defensive Key to me is to use a 4-4-4 defensive alignment on 1st downs & obvious run situations. The TiCats did this a little bit this past Sunday versus Montreal as Coach Steinhauer would bring in Plesius & Bowman at LB’s & substitute out Issac & Eric Davis & slide Rico Murray over the field corner. I fully expect to see more of this alignment & personnel grouping in the early going of this Sunday’s game as Toronto will most definitely try and establish the run & it will be integral for Hamilton to stop it & put the Double Blue into 2nd & long.
My 2nd Defensive Key is to Force Frito Ray into throwing downfield between the hash marks. I know this sounds crazy, why would the TiCats want Ricky Ray throwing into the heart of the defense? Well, because of exactly that, it’s into the heart of the defense where there’s support, clutter, traffic, disruption & more opportunities to put a knock on their receivers & break up plays & even get some much needed take-aways.
Ricky, within Milanovich’s offense, is a master at the dump-off in the flats while under pressure. He gets the ball into the hands of Andre Durie or the RB or Owens who then turn a little play into a much bigger one with YAC. (Notice once again … it’s YAC … Not YAC Yards … The Y denotes Yards … No need to say it twice!)
Of course the TiCats need to pressure right in the face of Ricky Ray. But they need to take his usual release valve away. They need a spy on Durie so that he doesn’t get that little dump off in the flat & then turns it up the sidelines for 20 or 30 yards after the catch. (See how I did that?) The TiCats need to force Ricky to throw over top of outstretched hands right up the middle. Make him put a little air under the ball. Make him go over the middle with passes that can be tipped or are a little risky. Make him go deep to other receivers. I think the TiCats match up well with their corners & DB's against guys like Chiles, Inman, Barnes etc, etc,. It's not them that are going to beat you.
Related to this point is my 3rd Defensive Key. Bump, rub, disrupt, knock … Get a hand, body, anything on Owens & Durie to knock them off their routes and really get under their skin … of #2 in particular. If you frazzle Owens, you take him out of the game. He’s also a fumble machine. You gotta get some sort of contact on him as he comes off the line of scrimmage off his waggle. Anything. A jam. A rub. Anything. Just get a body in his way & make him change his route. You get in Owen’s face & he’ll get frustrated.
Durie is a little different as he’s a calm, calculated pro & silent assassin. Still, you need to know where he is at all times. He’s not a huge fan of contact. He makes his living from the hash marks out to the sideline. Doesn’t like the middle of the field. So the TiCat defenders gotta be in his hip pocket & force him back inside towards pursuit. Can't let him casually walk out of bounds after a gain. You gotta tackle him and make him earn any YAC.
In Summary …
If the TiCats can stop Toronto from getting significant yardage on 1st down running plays & put them in 2nd and long & make Ricky go to receivers other than Owens & Durie … I like Hamilton’s chances … I Like It A Lot! (Read in Lloyd Christmas Voice!)
Four-Four Defense … Force Frito Inside … Frazzle Owens
Next we’ll take a look at the offensive side of the ball. Which will be much more difficult since with the creativity of Austin & Condell … we could see the return of the single wing or veer or wishbone … who knows with those two!