The Hamilton Tiger-Cats begin life without starting quarterback Dan LeFevour, as the team hosts Toronto at Tim Hortons Field on Monday afternoon.
Back on Aug. 16 as the 'Cats were hosting the Calgary Stampeders, LeFevour suffered a torn ACL in his left knee, exiting late as his team suffered the 30-20 setback. The loss was the third in a row for a Hamilton squad that, despite being a meager 1-6 on the campaign, is actually listed as the second- place team in the East Division behind a Toronto squad that has three victories in nine opportunities.
With LeFevour on the shelf, it appears as though Jeremiah Masoli will step up and direct the offense, although nothing is set in stone. The Ole Miss product did come on in relief two weeks ago, converting 7-of-10 passes for 68 yards, but he also tossed a costly interception late in the meeting that sealed Hamilton's fate.
Not only are the Ticats missing out on LeFevour's arm moving forward, as he was 67.8 percent accurate with his passes, they also lose one of the top running quarterbacks in the league who was responsible for 314 yards and four touchdowns on the ground.
In addition to Masoli, who has thrown for 305 yards and has more interceptions (three) than touchdowns (two) in his brief CFL career, the Tiger-Cats also have Stephen McGee on the active roster as an option at quarterback. However McGee, who was selected by the Dallas Cowboys in the fourth round of the 2009 NFL Draft, has yet to see any game action north of the border.
Last week, the Argonauts fell behind 31-10 at the half against Edmonton on the road and while they made a late push to make the score more respectable, the squad could not overcome costly turnovers in the 41-27 final. With the setback, the team's second straight, they have a mere six points on the season, yet that's still more than enough to keep them in first place in the division.
Ricky Ray, who was under constant pressure as he aimed to become the latest quarterback in CFL history to reach 50,000 passing yards for his career, finished 25-of-43 for 277 yards and two touchdowns. However Ray, who now needs 92 more passing yards to reach a milestone only five others have previously; Anthony Calvillo with 79,816 yards, Damon Allen (72,371), Ottawa's Henry Burris (53,273), Danny McManus (53,255) and Ron Lancaster (50,353), was sacked five times and had two of his three interceptions returned for touchdowns.
In addition to five total turnovers, Toronto did not do itself any favors by being flagged for 12 penalties, amounting to a loss of 94 yards.
Giving the Argos some measure of hope during the contest was kicker Swayze Waters who finished with 14 points as he made all four of his field goal chances and delivered an 80-yard single in the fourth frame.
The Argos got Chad Owens back on the field last Saturday, and he recorded seven catches for a game-high 92 yards and a major, but he was hit awkwardly in the opening moments of the fourth quarter and did not return. While an MRI found no serious damage to the knee of Owens, head coach Scott Milanovich doesn't expect the sprite superstar to suit up this week.
In addition to Owens not seeing the field for the Argos, the same goes for defensive back Dwight Anderson who was released earlier this week. Anderson, a CFL West All-Star in four of the last five seasons, had registered 27 tackles, including three sacks.
The Argos are hoping they can make some improvements on the defensive side of the ball with a series of recent cuts, a necessary evil if the program expects to do better than giving up 27.7 ppg (second-most in the league).
Over the long-term relationship between these two squads, Hamilton owns a 125-91-2 advantage in regular-season battles reaching back to 1950. The Tiger- Cats won the most recent meeting last October by a score of 24-18 in Guelph, giving them two straight triumphs versus Toronto.
The teams have two more meetings on the books this season, with Toronto hosting on both Oct. 10 and 25.