June 12, 2024

The Ticats, Tagovailoa Are Back at Practice Ahead of the Home Opener

The 1999 Grey Cup Champions Will be Honoured Ahead of the Home Opener

One of the contrasts between the inside of a football organization, and the outside, is on full display this week as everyone beyond the walls of Tim Hortons Field—in football blogs, podcasts and chat rooms across this country and, even more prolifically the country to the south of us—is talking about Taulia Tagovailoa being signed to Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

To the Cats, however, this is pretty well CFL business as usual, although they do recognize that being the brother of Miami Dolphins star Tua Tagovailoa does have a certain aura to it. And there’s also the interesting link between him and his head coach. Scott Milanovich held most of the University of Maryland Terrapins’ all-time records before Tagovailoa rewrote the bulk of them.

Obviously the guy was a Big Ten all-time passing leader,Milanovich said todayI‘ve watched his film, he’s talented, he’s a passer with an ability to move and create and escape. What he becomes I think is still out there to be determined.

“Taulia knows he’s going to have to prove himself on the field, earn the opportunity. Names get the same chance as everyone else does. That’s one of the things I love about the CFL. I have no doubt that he can play but it is a process.”

The Ticats are far more focused on the quarterback of the present—their No. 1 starter Bo Levi Mitchell–and the No. 1 quarterback of the past, Danny McManus who will be one of at least two dozen members of the 1999 Grey Cup team who will be honoured on the 25th anniversary of their title year, in a ceremony before Sunday night’s home opener against the confident Saskatchewan Roughriders.

Mitchell, as all good leaders do, did welcome Tagovailoa to the quarterback room and said the newcomer was there this morning at 5:15 with the other three pivots. He did recognize that people will always notice his last name first, butthe kid got here on his own merit.”

Mitchell, who was much stronger in the second half of the narrow 32-24 loss in Calgary Friday night, than he was in the opening two quarters, reviewed his own play and repeated what he’d said immediately after the game: that he started slowly, but after being hit late the in first half, he felt like he was into the game, and the season.

“Sharp with my feet, training camp did a great job getting my feet worked out the way I wanted them,he said today.A couple of bad habits fell back into play there, as you get tired and conditioning takes effect. Backing out of drops rather than taking a real drop, things like that.”


McManus is the last quarterback to lead a Ticat Cup winner, and he played behind a line which in 1999 allowed just seven sacks….for the whole season. There were times before and since when, every CFL club, including the Cats, have surrendered that many in a game.

On the Ticats Today video and audio podcasts, Dave Hack –one of the key members of that front five –Hack and big, quiet Seth Dittman at tackles, the undisputed leader of the line Carl Coulter at centre, and guards Chris Burns and Tim Prinsen–spoke about that incredible line, what it was like to win a Grey Cup for the long-waiting Ticat Nation, the symbiotic relationship between the line, running backs, McManus, and the elite corps of receivers.

And, it seems, the connections to Milanovich never stop. Hack and the Ticats head coach played together at Maryland in the early-to-mid-1990s!

“Having Danny Mac as our quarterback, obviously he was a special player, was great,Hack recalls.Because Danny threw the ball quickly because that’s what he does right? He’s going to throw the ball fast and make decisions and we had two backs with Ronald Williams, our big bruising back and then you had Eric LaPointe who was a burner. I don’t think people realize how fast Eric was. So we had the one-two punch with those two guys and our receivers were great, too. You had Andrew (Grigg), you had Mike Morreale, Darren Flutie, Corey Grant, Tony Aikens and Archie Amerson.  And we had a really good group on defence too.”

Two members of that defence, outspoken and talented linemen Mike Campbell and Mike Philbrick, will join Ticats Today’s podcasts tomorrow. Catch them at Ticats.ca/listen.

CATS CLAUSES: *Correction, an earlier version of this article had Tim Fleiszer listed as a guard on the ’99 team…The Ticats signed two more Canadians: defensive back Siriman Bagayogo, and former Argo defensive lineman Benoit Marion, who played with current starting defensive linemen who played with current starting defensive linemen DeWayne Hendrix and Brandon Barlow in Toronto … a legion of Ticats staffers and interns were distributing flags to homes around the Stipley Neighbourhood today … Tim Fleiszer, who will be here with the ’99 team Sunday was the first player to win Grey Cups with four different teams … Former Ticat quarterback Frank Cosentino passes on the sad news that Dr. Dan Dulmage who played defensive tackle for the Ticats in 1973-74 and was a member of Western’s first Vanier Cup champion under Cosentino passed away this week. He attended his third and fourth years of dental school while playing for the Ticats.