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July 6, 2024

No Lack of Effort in Black & Gold

June 16, 2024; Hamilton, Ontario, CAN; Saskatchewan Roughriders defeat the Hamilton Tiger-Cats 33-30 at Tim Hortons Field. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski

They’ve been playing real games for a month, and have yet to win one, but the roof hasn’t fallen in, the positive emotion hasn’t leaked away from the locker room, and no one has taken a swing at a teammate.

And this has not been lost upon Ticats head Scott Milanovich who is preparing the Tiger-Cats for a very difficult foe in the 3-1 B.C. Lions Sunday night’s opponents in the annual Made In the Hammer game at Tim Hortons Field.

After the Ticats wrapped up their week of full practices today—tomorrow is a pre-game walk-through without pads — Milanovich was asked to describe his team’s psyche, given the 0-4 start.

“I think it’s shockingly good, very positive,” he replied. “We seem to be doing a good job of mourning the loss for about a day and then by the time we get back to practice the attitude has been amazing.

“The energy has been better than ever, which is very hard to do. They’re putting their hearts and souls into it–everybody, coach and staff included–and haven’t been rewarded for it. I’m really pleased with the attitude and the professionalism and the demeanour, just the get back to work and focus on what we can control the type of thing. As of right now, I have zero gripes about those kinds of things.

A large part of it is the kind of character Ed (Hervey, GM)  and his staff have brought in. I think the leaders in the room are important–are they going to be pointing the finger? are they going to take ownership of mistakes?– and I think that filters throughout teams, throughout an organization. I think we have good ones when it comes to that.”

The Ticats are getting solid play in a number of places, among them at quarterback from Bo Levi Mitchell, at linebacker from Kyle Wilson, at receiver where rookie Shemar Bridges has scored a touchdown in each of the last three games, and in placekicking from Marc Liegghio who is 9-for-10 in field goals . But they also know they’ve got to do more to defeat the Lions who’ve won three straight since dropping their season opener to the Toronto Argonauts. The Lions can be fierce up front and are led by Vernon Adams Jr, currently the No. 1 passer in the CFL, just ahead of Mitchell.

“I like to think one win’s going to set us off on a heater,” Milanovich said today. “That’s a feeling that I have. We’re so close, we’re doing so many good things. We’re still doing things not well enough, obviously, in the critical times to get the win. I’m seeing enough growth, really, in all three phases that I’m optimistic that this is going to be a really good football team before the end of the season.

“Unfortunately we put ourselves in this hole and we can’t afford to keep dropping games. So the urgency’s there but the optimism is there as well.”

You can hear and see more from Milanovich and Bridges on Ticats Today.