June 14, 2024

Wilson, Ticats Ready For Riders’ Challenge in Home Opener

June 23, 2023; Hamilton, Ontario, CAN; Montreal Alouettes defeat the Hamilton Tiger-Cats 38-12 at Tim Hortons Field. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski

With six starters who were brand-new to the team—and another who didn’t start most of last year–the Ticats’ defence understandably had some issues of unfamiliarity in the season opener in Calgary. 

The Stampeder offence scored on each of their first five possessions, although only one of those scores was for a touchdown, indicating a stiffened resolve by the Ticats to limit Calgary’s successful drives mostly to Rene Parades field goals.

Middle linebacker Kyle Wilson started for half of the regular-season games two years ago, but usually played weakside linebacker (WILL)  replacing Simoni Lawrence, who’d been injured. Friday night, he made five tackles but feels he could have made more and says he will make more in Sunday night’s home opener against Saskatchewan.

“It was not bad for our first run,Wilson said of the linebacking corps, in which he’s flanked by new Ticats Ray Wilborn on the boundary side and Destin Talbert on the field side.Of course, we’re a new group We will definitely get better. (Being new to each other) definitely affects play. Little things like not wanting to ask questions, it all connects together.

“You have to anticipate. Sometimes you look next to you and see a guy kind of unsure.  So I just take it upon myself to give them a reminder, help guys out.

“I noticed the difference, that being my first game starting at MIKE (middle linebacker). I was definitely more involved communicating with the D line and also just being in the trenches, battling with the other team’s O line. At the WILL I was communicating more with the defensive backs.”

On Sunday the Ticats will be facing a Roughriders team which has gained confidence and momentum after outscoring the Elks 21-3 in the fourth quarter of a comeback 29-21 road win in Edmonton. They’re led by quarterback Trevor Harris, who’s had some excellent games in his career against the Ticats and played for Ticat head coach Scott Milanovich in Toronto, and power back AJ Ouellette, who also came over from the Argonauts. Their new head coach Corey Mace won a 2022 Grey Cup ring as Toronto’s defensive coordinator.

“I think they’ve got a lot of emotion,Milanovich said of the Riders.It appears that they’re playing a similar style of defence to what Corey did last year in Toronto. Obviously, I know Trevor very well. He’s going to get the ball out of his hands, he’ll be highly accurate. They’ve got a power running back. They’ve got an elite returner (Mario Alford). We’re going to have to play well, we’re going to have to really worry about what we’re doing and just improve on the things we made mistakes on last week.”

Check out Ticats Today  for further analysis of today’s practice and, a lengthy, rambunctious, discussion with tough Ticat defensive linemen MikeJuneCampbell and MikeBrick”, who were important contributors to the 1999 Ticat Grey Cup champions who will be honoured before Sunday night’s kickoff. 

Here’s a teaser, from Philbrick, of what they had to say about the 1999 Grey Cup win over Calgary.

“That game is sort of the gemstone,Philbrick said of the defence which didn’t allow a Stampeder first down until midway through the second quarter. At the end of the day, the defence of that team was forged in ‘97 when we spent 57 minutes of every game on the field (when the team went 2-16). To me, that’s the crucible. That’s the furnace that forged the steel of that defence, if you will, putting it in Hamilton terms.”

Go here to listen to the entire roundtable in Ticats Today.