July 3, 2024

McKnight, Ticats Returned to the Hammer Wednesday Ahead of Sunday’s Matchup with BC

As the Tiger-Cats hit the field today, looking ahead to the hot B.C. Lions and not back to another disappointing Sunday night, a familiar voice resonated a couple of times around Tim Hortons Field.

It was Dennis McKnight, who was making it very clear to his new charges on special teams exactly what and how he wanted a few things done.

Just minutes before the Day 1 practice in preparation for Sunday night’s Made in The Hammer/Hometown Heroes Game at Tim Hortons Field against the 3-1 B.C. Lions the Ticats announced the hiring of McKnight as the replacement for Special Teams Coordinator Paul Boudreau, who was relieved of his duties on Tuesday.

McKnight spent 13 seasons as an offensive lineman in the NFL, including eight with the San Diego Chargers, before beginning his long off-field career as an offensive line coach and special teams coordinator.

He has done both jobs for the Ticats before. Head coach June Jones put him in charge of special teams for the 2017 season after Jeff Reinebold took over the defence, and in 2018 he became the offensive line coach under Jones and finished the 2019 season in that position before leaving to re-join Jones and the Houston Roughnecks of the XFL. They were also together last year with the Seattle Sea Dragons of the reconstituted XFL (which has now merged with the USFL). Last season, when Milanovich –by then the Ticats’ offensive play caller—was unable to attend a game in Saskatchewan.

Jones and McKnight have often worked together, including at the University of Hawaii and SMU, where the quarterback was Bo Levi Mitchell.

“I went to Katy (Texas) High School where on game day you wore a team polo; you weren’t allowed to have tattoos, facial hair, long hair, you weren’t allowed to have piercings,Mitchell was recalling today.Pretty strict when it came to the football program. Then I got to SMU under June Jones and walked out to practice and McKnight and Reinebold both had their shirts off, walking around with no socks, no shoes.What is going on right now?But just instantly I loved the character, the guy brings it every day. Same guy every day win or lose and I think that’s what we need right now. Win/loss he’s going to bring that energy. Definitely, a guy who’s been around —NFL, CFL, everywhere—coaches special teams and knows the offence as well. I know the guy well and I’m glad to have him here.”

Milanovich said today that the Ticats special teams are essentially being rebuilt and he’s impressed with McKnight’s approach.

“I spent a little time with him after the Saskatchewan game last year,Milanovich said.High energy, loves football; fundamentals, toughness, back to the basics. I think he’s a guy that the guys are going to rally around. I felt that today.

I think there’s an element of toughness and no-nonsense andlet’s keep it simple as we can and let our guys play ball’. He’s also obviously spent a lot of time, even in the XFL, as a special teams coordinator. He’s got a deep background in both. It was a good day.”

Milanovich didn’t want to discuss the dismissal of Boudreau too deeply, other than to say he felt for him and his family, wish him well and recognize him as a good person. He also said it is never a single situation—not even the squibbed final kickoff and subsequent long runback in Sunday’s loss in Ottawa, as some have assumed–that leads to a decision as difficult as removing a coordinator this early in the season.

For more of the Milanovich and Mitchell interviews please listen to Ticats Today on the Ticats Audio Network.

CATS CLAUSES: The Ticats signed Canadian DL Deionte Knight off the Toronto Argos’ practice roster and released former McMaster linebacker Enoch Penney-Laryea … James Butler, who missed the Ottawa game due to concussion protocol was practicing and the club in a limited capacity, will see how he reacts tomorrow to today’s workout … rookie OL Nate Dumoulin Duguay is in a walking cast and is out for a few weeks after being injured on a short-yardage play Sunday night.